Monday, 8 February 2010

The Soil

So we went up to take a soil sample the other day and had a look at the soil profile. The results you can see in the photos.
The soil is quite sandy and also has some rather large bits of clay in along with some red lumps we think might be brick. Considering it was used by horses previously it doesn't seem that compacted nor does it seem that well manured... curious... However, it does seem to be reasonably well structured IMHO just lacking in organic matter and, more importantly, worms! I am investigating the addition of worms at the moment and dreaming in a surreal fashion about some sort of Great Worm Hunt.

In the meantime, we come to our first hot debate... I think that it's a good idea at this stage- bearing in mind the speedy vegetable garden part of our plan- to dig some compost into around three beds to help the soil out and get planting. The rest of the land can be laid to mulch or developed further as we go. this allows us time to be thoughtful and wise about the overall permaculture plan. I know that there are arguments for no dig and, if you look at the synergistic gardening model, no compost but I think both of these are plans for when you have already established a plot and got the soil in good heart.
I think Marcus would prefer to be purist about it and have a no dig system right from the start but I am concerned about getting good productivity straight away. Also, I have elected to get in some municipal compost which is not guaranteed organic but it makes sense to me because it is cheap and reusing the waste product of our local area and we currently don't have a steady supply of compost. i am looking into the Community Composting Network and we are, of course, wanting to set up a compost bit on the land but these things take time. i don't want to sacrifice our principles for expediency but I do want to be balanced... What do you think?
Further soil analysis to follow :)

1 comment:

  1. Check out the Global Gardener Series with Bill Mollison from the vids I sent, specifically: "Global Gardener 3 - Cool climates" and watch from 17:35. He visits a farmer who takes him out on the land and shows him how he employed worms (for free!) to build new soils. Alibophorus Calliginosa are the ones you want. Watch his technique - it's a great start for the site here, amongst other things that can be done.