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Grow Your Own #8

We gathered at the garden today on a crisp autumnal day for the September Grow Your Own course with Kai. As Cardiff prepares to enter lockdown for a second time, it was nice to meet in person and spend time (in a socially distanced way) together in the garden.

This session was all about seed-saving and composting.

We began the session with a garden walk, where we observed seasonal changes in the garden. The dry weather and sunshine of the last few weeks have made ideal conditions for gathering seeds to dry over the winter, ready for next year. We harvested Calendula, Cardoon, Chamomile, Phacelia and Yarrow. The seeds will be stored in paper bags in the greenhouse to dry, ready for processing on a rainy day.

Cardoon and Chamomile

After lunch, we turned the two compost heaps at Global Gardens. The lack of rain over the last few weeks has resulted in quite dry heaps, so we poured around 8 buckets of water over the heaps to moisten them and support the kind of microbial activity we need for the composting process. We then covered the heaps with top soil dug out by Good Gym for the classroom soak-away. Kai explained how the soil creates a kind of warm blanket over the heap, keeping moisture in and raising the temperature.

Kai explained how creating the conditions for a healthy compost will in turn support healthy plant growth. Keeping the balance between moist and dry is key - if it gets too dry, pour a few buckets of water over it. If it gets too wet, cover it with a carpet or other thick material, which will reduce moisture entering the heap.

Once we had turned and covered the heaps, we applied the biodynamic preparations: #502 Yarrow, #503 Chamomile, #504 Nettle, #505 Oak, #506 Dandelion finishing with a covering of #507 Valerian stirred and brushed over the heap. To find out more about the biodynamic preparations check out the resource from the Biodynamic Association UK here.

Each of these preparations plays an important role in supporting different components of plant growth.

Yarrow is connected to plant sensitivity and can help plants draw in substances. It is connected to potassium and sulphur processes of the soil.

Chamomile is connected to plant needs and can help support plant growth and stabilise plant nutrients. It is connected to calcium processes.

Nettle has a relationship to iron and helps develop sensitivity in the soil and promotes the formation of humus in the soil.

Oak bark increases plant resistance to diseases and fungal attacks. It is calcium rich.

Dandelion is connected to silica processes and activates the influences of light in the soil.

Valerian acts like a protective skin, creating a warmth sheath over the compost heap. It is connected to phosphorous.

September Tasks

Now is the perfect time for preparing beds, ready for sowing green manures such as Broad beans and Phacelia in October.

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