Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Backyard Project - Sharing the Fruit and Other Ways of Encouraging Life in the Soil

We have so enjoyed a small crop of figs off our newly planted trees but we left this one for the ants. The ants are working hard at breaking down and mixing the soil in the new Hedge bed.

The results of a fun morning at our local nursery. Now to plant all of these in the beds without straw covers. There are plants that grow lots of leaves, have large leaves, or have lots of biomass in the soil - mesclun, squash, sweet potato, mullein, artichoke. Also, there are lupins to plant around the new trees, with each tree getting 4 of these nitrogen-fixing plants. There are plants for the Gravel bed garden - all medicinal or culinary. 

Willow Water
I pruned the willow tree outside my studio window then cut the prunings up finely and left them to soak in a tub of water. I have since read I need not have put the leaves in the water. Indole butyric acid (IBA) and Salicylic acid (SA) leaches out of the cut willow and into the water. These 2 chemicals act as a natural rooting hormone and prevent infection in new roots. 
I soak each root ball in the willow water before planting and give the new plants a followup drink of willow water. And I talk to them to help them settle into their new home. It all works.

Gardening rule - "One must plant all purchased plants before going back to the nursery to buy more." My sister says she has never heard of this rule and never will. And if there was such a rule it wouldn't apply to all of those cuttings and plants from friends waiting to be planted.
Following the rule, I am now allowed to go back to the nursery for more.

The nasturtiums are doing well growing next to the hot rocks. Hummingbirds and many different insects visit them. I snack on the leaves and flowers while out gardening.

Time to turn the studio beds again.

I take off the straw cover, lightly fork over the soil, give it a good watering...

...and put the cover back on so the soil can continue cooking with renewed vigour.
I am pleased with my decision to leave some beds fallow because it is so much easier to continue adding layers as the soil builds up. On the other beds, I am using plants to do most of the soil building work.

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