This is the World Organic News for the week ending 16th of March 2020.
Jon Moore reporting!
Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
In reference to last week’s episode #206 Two Different No Dig Garden Systems, I called for any listeners who understood the carbon drawdown effects of lasagna gardening structures I was talking about. A big thank you to Peter McCarthy for his response.
As far as your question about how the lasagna system works as regard nitrogen drawdown (which is a concept I don’t believe is a long term problem in any case assuming u have a complex biodiverse system that is going towards abundance 😉). My observations are that with this system when freshly layed and planted IE the layers have not yet become good soil, is that the plants roots can find the nutrient throughout the layers as the plant needs them. The fresh chicken manure that when fresh would ‘normally’ burn roots, doesn’t in the lasagna system since the roots 5 cm above are nitrogen deprived in the straw/leaf layer. The plant can pick, choose and adjust the soil environment. This is a hypothesis based on observation not proven by science. We as humans don’t have to understand the mechanisms… It makes us feel stupid but often plants know best. Lasagna beds work a treat. And have the bonus of training the stupid human to continue adding simple layers on top and avoiding our temptation to dig it over.
Good advice. Thanks Peter and thanks for your kind words re this podcast, very much appreciated. I am guilty of overthinking again, rather than observing results. Knowing is nice, productive gardens are probably of more use. Just don’t dig, simples.
To this week’s topic, speed. Now I normally advocate for the agricultural speed of life. Everything in its season, in its own time. We are, however, in unusual times. If we are forced to self isolate, stay at home, in other words, and we have a few spare square meters of space, now might be a good time to start a no-dig garden. Things are moving quickly and the weather where you are might not be ideal for growing, say corn but that’s ok. Corn takes at least 90 days so it’s not much use in the current situation.
What I’m suggesting is some leafy greens to supplement your diet. I would and come Monday/Tuesday will be, so plant the following: cress, rocket (that’s arugula for our North American friends) and silverbeet. Cress will be producing harvestable food in a week, two to three weeks for the rocket and a month for the silverbeet. Meanwhile the cress can be cut weekly through the growing period and the rocket after it reaches 10-15 cm. The silverbeet can be plucked from the outside and it will continue to produce new leaves for as long as you leave it in the ground. This may be a little monotonous but not if you’re actually hungry. I’ll also be planting carrots, beetroot and broccoli for later. Who knows how long this will last. Beetroot tops are edible, carrot thinnings are too. Broccoli takes time but I’m sure the leaves are edible. Oh and kale. It’s fairly quick too. I’m not a big fan but food is food. If people are going to panic buy toilet paper and cans of creamed rice, then it can’t hurt to have our own continually growing food supply.
Probably some Chinese cabbages would be a good idea too. They’re quick.
The other part of our plan is to have 100kgs of potatoes on hand. If all else fails, potatoes with some dairy does create a complete dietary option. Again this might be boring after a few days (not for me) but having food is better than not. And the other bonus of having food is we then don’t need to go shopping. That way we can avoid other people, the primary cause of infection, currently.
Of course, all the other things people are hoarding would be useful: flour, yeast, rice and so on. There are any number of websites out there teaching the gentle art of breadmaking, if that’s a thing you eat. I’ve been making bread for years and it is easy. Time is the greatest ingredient and if you’re stuck in self isolation, it could be a good time to skill up. Start a sourdough starter today and it’ll be ready for when you need it. A week to ten days normally.
The point I’m making, or trying to make, is that you can still eat well, have fresh greens and something to do as a bonus if you are confined to your home. Even an apartment dweller can grow sprouts as we all can, I suppose and thereby have access to real food. Food without preservatives, that you’ve grown yourself.
Let me be blunt. The COVID-19 pandemic could be horrific. The footage out of China and now Italy does not make for comforting viewing. We may yet have time to get some food in the ground. Don’t waste the opportunity. COVID-19 may prove to be less virulent than it currently appears to be, in which case you’ll have your garden well and truly underway. Win/win.
If you need more help drop over to WorldOrganicNews.com, pop your email and first name into the form on the front page and I’ll send you a copy of the World Organic News No-Dig Gardening eBook, for free.
And speaking of free, I’m also presenting a series of mini seminars on the topic live on the World Organic News Facebook page from the 18th or 19th of March depending on your time zone, for five days. This is as I said a free event. I’d love to see you there with any questions you may have on the gentle art of no-dig gardening. Link in the show notes, of course.
Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
Thank you all for listening and I’ll be back next week.
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