Friday, 21 December 2012

Using brushwood

It has long been known that adding lots of carbon to the soil will deplete it of nitrogen.  What people forget is that adding lots of nitrogen will deplete the carbon.  Adding air will deplete both.

I have been cutting back the hedge in the back garden, which has become quite overgrown.  This is producing a lot of woody material.  The hedge on the new allotment needed cutting back too.  This has given me a lot of brushwood.

The hedge in the back garden is mostly cherry laurel Prunus laurcerasus  and the hedge on the new allotment is hawthorn  Crataegus monogyna and these plants have deep roots that penetrate well into the soil bringing up nutrients and incorporating them into their structure.

To burn or bin this rich source of nutrient is unnecessary when they can be buried in a trench to rot down over the year.  Burying them deeply means that they do not interfere with the top soil and cultivation can continue without being  interrupted by meeting brushwood while digging or forking over.

So the brushwood is being bagged up and taken down to the allotment to add to the tripple digging trenches.  This will help with the drainage, raise the soil and possibly heat up the soil a little while the brushwood decomposes.  

200 new bamboo canes came yesterday and these will probably be used for the sweet peas.  The scaffold  netting 2m x 50m came today.  I have been given some blue water pipe and these will be used as supports for the scaffold netting. Either this will be put over the brassicas or cover the onions. 

Even though the allotments are run on completely organic principles, there is still a need to protect crops from disease and pests.  The only way open now is to use barriors and the most effective one I have found is using scaffold debris netting.  This will let a lot of light through while preventing all but the tiniest pest from getting to the crops.

Debris netting  is a little unsightly so  I  am endevouring to use them only when the adult pests are laying eggs.  There are some pests such as the cabbage white which seems to be laying eggs for most of the summer and this encourages me to leave the nets on all summer.

I would rather not have to have  the barriors up all summer because I want the allotment to look good as well as produce lots of food. It also means that weeding is that much more difficult.  I like to bury the edges of the netting in the soil to anchor it and prevent the pests from finding a gap to get in.  This means  that every time  I weed I have to rebury the edges again.  A little time consuming.

The best pest protection is the gardener's shadow.  I will go over the brassica  plants carefully removing any pests that I find.

I sowed some cabbage,  cauliflower and broad beans today.  Probably far too early but I have plenty of seed so I thought I would give it a go.

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