Page 30 - ALG Issue 1 2022
P. 30

                                 readers articles Climate emergency
 How can our allotments be part of
the solution instead of being part of
the problem? We can change many of our ways, so that we keep the carbon stored in the soil and plants, instead of releasing it as CO2. Every time we dig or rotavate the soil we release carbon and water into the air. Learn how to grow with minimum soil disturbance. Don’t let the sun shine on your soil. As soon as you have cleared a crop, if you can’t start a ground cover plant (annual weeds can be useful so long as you cover them before they flower), cover the soil with cardboard. This prevents light reaching the soil so no seeds will germinate. It traps moisture so the soil remains soft and crumbly. The worms will eat it and create a layer of nutrient- rich compost.
We can use shredded paper, autumn leaves, grass cuttings, chopped up comfrey – just about anything you’d put on a compost heap. Just put cardboard on top and no weeds will come. When you want to plant the area, just cut through the cardboard, and make a hole for your plant. As the cardboard gets consumed you can add chicken manure pellets, potash, lime, whatever your plants need – then more cardboard. You can foliar feed with extract of comfrey, which you can produce yourself, so no need to buy a plastic bottle full of liquid feed. You will rarely need to water so that’s another saving for the climate. You are recycling lots of material; the worms do all the digging.
Also, as soon as a crop comes out, put another one in... an overwintering
green manure plant such as field
beans will add nitrogen to the soil as
it grows, provide humus at the end of
its life. I grow the bean plants till about February, cover them with cardboard, and cover with black plastic for a couple of weeks leading up to planting time... Roll up the plastic and plant through the cardboard.
Every time we burn something we
add to the CO2 in the air, so ban fires completely. If it grew it will compost. When I prune raspberries etc., I chop the old wood into short lengths and
let them lie in the bed. This provides a mulch to keep the bed damp, and feeds will penetrate between the sticks. If you have a lot of woody prunings create a “dead hedge”; it’s a great insect hotel and can be a useful wind break too. All you do is drive two rows of sticks into the ground about 10cms apart and lay all the other wood between the rows.
Shredded paper has another benefit once plants are strongly established. The white paper reflects light back to your plants so they can photosynthesise more and grow bigger, and it keeps the soil cooler so the roots are happier in summer.
Grow comfrey on any bit of land you can spare. Cut it to ground level just before flowering. Suspend a large container with a hole in the bottom over a jug. Fill container with comfrey, add a brick or two to push the leaves down, and cover with a black plastic bag. After a week or so, rich comfrey liquid will be dripping into the jug... Your very own high potash
After a week or so, rich comfrey liquid will be dripping into the jug... Your very own high potash food to dilute and apply as a foliar feed to just about every plant you grow
food to dilute and apply as a foliar feed to just about every plant you grow. This method avoids that smell of fermenting comfrey so many of us love to hate.
The series of photos shows natural materials being used as mulch while the land is resting, if a green manure crop fails. All these materials will be turned into soil by the worms etc. and can be planted through. Soft fruit is mulched by its own prunings, even brambles... feed can be watered
         30 Allotment and Leisure Gardener

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