Friday, 1 April 2011

Feeble attempt to make Terra Preta

I am using the charcoal that I have marinaded in comfrey liquid all winter to put into the planting holes of both the sweet peas and the potatoes.  I also used it for the Oca too.  I am hoping to produce Terra preta like soil on the allotment.  Last years charcoal can still be seen in the soil so I think that cumulatively over the years I will build up a black soil even if it is not exactly like the Amazonian soils.  

I planted all the Restormel sweet peas but I have 5 plants left over.  They were watered in with comfrey liquid and had a pinch of mychorrhizal fungi to help them on their way.  I hoed the whole of the sweet pea bed with the swoe.  I like using this tool because it is lighter than the hoe and easier to get in between the canes.  There is a remarkable number of weed seedlings which have germinated over the last couple of days.

The Oca was put into the potato bed with the Kestrel potatoes.  I like to use three tools to prepare the ground for planting or for seed sowing.  First I go over the ground with a heavy duty hoe to take out any weed seedlings.  Then I use the three pronged cultivator to smooth the ground out and start to remove any large stones.  Finally, I use the rake to make a fine tilth.  This is what I did to prepare the potato bed.

I got some more charcoal out of the dustbin and crushed it with a bull hammer until the largest pieces were no more than one or two centimetres square.  I used this to put into the planting holes for the potatoes.  I only got three rows planted before I had to think about going home for tea.

During the morning I worked on the new allotment.  It is in an awful state.  I am putting in trenches three spits deep and finding horse tail in the third spit.  There are places on the allotment where the horse tail and bindweed rhizomes are matted together.  This allotment is a seriously long term project for someone else.  I will continue to clear it off but not as seriously as I was doing.  To show you how annoyed I was getting with it, I was seriously thinking about using weed killer.  I will attempt to get some black plastic to cover the allotment but getting rid of the horse tail and bind weed will take a few years.  So, apart from the serious water logging in the winter, the very poor soil that is more builder's sand than soil, the mare's tail and bindweed and the piles of rubbish, I think that this could make someone a very good allotment.

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