I like to use compost tea to soak seeds, and to water seeds in when planting, especially in modules. At this time of year the temperature is too low to create a decent compost tea, so how do we achieve the same results?
I pre -germinate all of my larger seeds by soaking them for up to 12 hours, and then setting them on damp kitchen paper. That allows me to only use seeds that have shown themselves as viable. This saves empty spaces in pots and modules.
Pre germinating Soy beans by soaking
I prefer to use actively aerated compost tea in the soak water, to get a healthy bunch of soil microbes coating the seed and root prior to planting out. For smaller seeds I tend to use compost tea to water the seeds initially to achieve the same effect.
mustard seedlings germinated using compost tea
For a really basic explanation take a look at the Compost Tea Link. Alternatively there is a lot of information about compost tea in the archives.
Small Scale Grain Growing is an integral part of my vegetable and grain polyculture experiment, which featured in an article in Permaculture Magazine. I have described what I’m trying to achieve in earlier posts, and on my Sustainable Grains, and Vegetable/Grains pages, but I wanted to show some pictures of my current research. That’s especially true as the last time that I posted an update was at the end of October (2012). This was a post about some of my Research, as opposed to the work itself. I will address that now.
After a year of growing grains, it became clear that I needed to create a more formal research strategy for my Small Scale Grain growing Experiments. I have carried out quite a bit of research, and have devised a plan that should enable me to do this more effectively.
Again, actual progress with my experimental polyculture has been slow, whilst my thinking has continued to evolve. In the vegetable beds, Broad beans have now been planted. These are a great example of the Permaculture principle ‘every element should perform more than one function’. They are a food crop, provide bee forage, fix nitrogen, yield a lot of biomass, and keep plants in the beds over Winter (green manure). As a food crop, you can eat the young shoots, the whole pods, the seeds young, or dry the seeds for storage. Not bad from a single crop.
Today was wet and blustery, and I couldn’t force myself out to do some serious work, so I sat and shelled Broad beans instead. it took about four hours, and I ended up with three piles. One for storage, one with insect damage for eating now, and then the really trashy ones, which will be fed to the ducks. The picture below gives you an idea of how much I got from a patch of about 8ft x 4ft.
Broad (Fava) Beans
Here they are spread out on the windowsill, to finish drying.
Broad (Fava) Beans 2
The repetitive work gives me time to think, and as I was working with beans, and this years beans arrived in the post, I was thinking about their place in my polyculture experiment. It occurred to me that my choice of bean was made using the same process that I would undergo when I am consciously using Permaculture Principles, but without me actually thinking about it. Permaculture thinking.