Like many people here in the UK I’ve been sowing seeds. I give myself extra work by growing almost all of my early plants in modules. This keeps my plants away from slugs, voles, birds, and the worst of the weather, and allows me to give the optimum tmperature for germination using electric propagators. In fact if I had been sowing seeds outside this Spring I’m not sure how many would have made it. As well as needing a bit more work, sowing seeds in modules, rather than sowing them directly in the ground, creates the need for a suitable growing medium. I had read a book which suggested that mixing dried cow manure and river sand makes a good seed sowing compost, but I don’t have either to hand. In the past I have relied on bought in ‘multi purpose’, sieved and mixed with sand, but with the volume of seedlings that I grow, and the trees and shrubs in pots, this is expensive, not particularly ‘green’, and may in fact be responsible for creating some of the disease problems that seedlings suffer from. This year I have made some changes to the way that I go about sowing seeds.
I wanted to write a short post to keep up to date with my vegetable/grain polyculture experiments. The overall aims and objectives are described in my vegetable/grain polyculture design, but the page is really a number of linked projects. This post updates a couple of those polyculture projects.
The word Permaculture was originally formed from the words Permanent Agriculture. What may surprise you is that the words Permanent Agriculture appear in the titles of at least three books, and predate ‘Permaculture’ by about sixty years. I am currently reading one of those books for the second time, and thought that it would be interesting to discuss all three in the same post.
My Chicken Scavenging System is designed to feed my Chickens using insects living on the floor of a type of Forest Garden, to reduce the amount of wheat and other grains that I need to feed to them. I described this Permaculture system of my own design, in my Chicken Scavenging System Design that was written up as one of the ten portfolio designs for the Diploma in Applied Permaculture Design. The Scavenging System is designed to build up a deep litter of leaves and rotting wood, which is an ideal environment for insects, on which the chickens can feed.The problem is that this will take years to develop, so I am using another Permaculture technique called ‘Chop and Drop‘ to speed the process up.
I’m using a wet day to take the time to commit to writing my thoughts on soil fertility and soil building.
I’ve not made a secret of my belief that the ‘digging is bad for the soil’ argument is too simplistic. I liken it to the way that you warn a child about fire by repeatedly saying ‘HOT’. Eventually your child will need to know how to make and use fire for themselves. In gardening terms the argument that digging is harmful is fine as a general warning, and for people who are happy not to delve deeper into soil and its’ workings, but once you have a decent knowledge of the subject it is possible to be more specific.