The more organic matter in the soil the better it retains moisture. Each 1% of organic matter in the soil will retain 168,000 litres per hectare. That’s of course hard to visualise. What it means is 4 cubic meters for a standard 10 pole allotment or 14 kilos per square meter. So 5% organic matter in the soil will hold 70 kilos of water per square meter. Substantially more than the body weight of a model like Kate Moss.
Sheet Mulching is a technique useful in converting grass or flower beds into productive ground. We are using it as a technique for building our forest garden by using it as part of the sequence towards perennial planting. Basically you cover the ground with something organic and rottable that the weeds can’t get through. Old Carpets and rugs made from natural fibres like cotton and wool are good as is cardboard.
This whole approach to designing a functioning ecosystem from day one is something that we really should be looking at more given that I’m beginning to suspect that what we think of as conventional farming is uncomfortably dependent on cheap oil.
For those who like doing things for themselves, one way of feeding the plants is to make your own liquid fertiliser. You can do this quite simply by using deep rooted plants like comfrey and nettles. These not only are high in potassium and nitrogen but also concentrate trace minerals from the subsoil. It’s really quite easy. You can buy one or more of those 50/75 litre waterbutts they have in B&Q or Homebase plus a tap for them. Fill it up with freshly cut roughly chopped comfrey and nettles (we sometimes put thistles in ours too) and then fill it up with water. Leave for 3-6 weeks – then dilute and use
In order to grow effectively plants need to be able to get adequate supplies of nutrients and water so that they can develop without a check. Let’s face it as gardeners or indeed as commercial growers, a lot of what we do is aimed at making this so. Adding nutrients to the soil (or hydroponic… Read More »