Today, we held the March Grow Your Own course via zoom due to the Coronavirus lock-down. Although different from gathering at the garden, it was nice to see the faces of those doing the course, particularly amidst these times of social distancing!
We began with a check-in - it was nice to hear lots of people spending time at their allotment or in their back garden. Kai then introduced the theme of the session: soil cultivation.
Autumn and spring are key times for cultivation.
Kai highlighted the importance of air, moisture and soil life for healthy soil.
Challenges to achieving healthy soil include compaction (caused both machinery and human treading on soil) and weather conditions (particularly very wet weather and very dry spells).
Kai emphasised the importance of developing a fine tilth following primary cultivation. The finer the tilth of the soil, the more moisture and air can circulate and flow within the soil.
You can support soil tilth by loosening the soil with a fork and raking. This is particularly important immediately after primary cultivation and during dry spells.
Raking can also support moisture retention in the soil. So everytime you rake the soil in dry weather, it is like watering the soil!
Biodynamic planting calendar
Kai highlighted the importance of waiting until the soil is warm before planting out a lot of crops - especially potatoes. Generally, according to the biodynamic calendar, potatoes are planted out around easter. This year, the 6th April is considered an optimum time to plant out potatoes, as a root day before the full moon.
We spoke about northern transplanting time as the optimum time for planting out seedlings. To find out more about the Biodynamic planting calendar, go to the Biodynamic Association UK. You can buy the 2020 calendar here. There is also a Biodynamic planting calendar app which you an download on your phone.
Beetroot, radish, parsnip and carrots can also be sown outside in prepared beds, aided by a fleece or some form of protection.
Most hardy annuals can also be sown outside in April (like calendula, borage, nasturtium, poppies, nigella) and
Other crops can be sown undercover include:
LEAF CROPS: lettuce, spinach, chard, brassicas, leeks.
FRUIT CROPS: cucumbers, courgette, squash, pumpkins.
FLOWERS: half hardy annuals can be sown under cover in April (like helichrysum, snapdragons, zinnias).
A sunny windowsill can work for such crops, particularly if you can use a cover or even a transparent plastic bag or glass to retain heat.
Amidst these social distancing times, sowing seeds can be a nourishing thing to do. Kai encouraged us to investigate the growth formations of seedlings and the root structures.
We invite you to join us - #seedlings with your seed-sowing explorations!