Soil Fertility

Winter is when the work happens in horticulture

A lesson learned this time last year as part of the Growing Green Fingers gardening course at the National Botanic Gardens is that the off-season is when the heavy lifting gets done. Put in to practice at Glencullen Farm, we’re in fencing mode! When it comes to landscaping, the trick is to strike a balance between disruption and preservation. To improve the allotment facilities, a certain amount of collateral damage is inevitable as we remove old fencing and dig new fence lines, but we’re trying to keep it to a minimum. “Min till” is a buzzword in agriculture and organic farming these days, as is “no-dig”. Minimum disturbance to the soil structure. While we’ve had to make some compromises to clear overgrown derelict spaces and wield a spade at times, we’re trying to do it sparingly and only as necessary. One upside to our excavation activity is that we get to see what lies beneath, and it’s pleasing to discover that there is an abundance of earth worms. This is manna from heaven for the kitchen gardener, a sure sign of soil health at our allotments, and hopefully the worm forgives the plough!

GrowVeg recenly posted a video advocating the merits of no-dig gardening which we thought we’d share with you.

Furthermore, a quirky video blog produced by Way Out West publish some excellent clips from their little farm in the West of Ireland. This particular video challenges conventional thinking about “good soil” and suggests that there’s as much a place for infertile soil to encourage biodiversity.

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