This is The ChangeUnderground for the 13th of February 2023.
I’m your host, Jon Moore
Decarbonise the Air, Recarbonise the Soil!
A big shout out and even bigger thank you to Jeay Love for the coffee you sent me through the “Buy Me A Coffee” link on the website and in the show notes. The notification came through as I was queuing to purchase one such beverage so the timing was perfect, thanks again.
Late mid February and there’s a tinge on the paddocks around these parts that hints at an early Autumn. It could be the week or so on south west to southerly winds blowing over this part of the apple isle but it really does feel like an early Autumn. This is probably a good thing. I’ve come to terms with the mediterranean climate we have here by not growing much over summer other than perennials. Pears, apples, raspberries and some persistent blackberries.
The raspberries came in early this summer. For the first time in the last four years we were picking before christmas. As the raspberries come to an end the blackberries are ready or thereabouts. This day I picked the first hatful of the year. The apples will be a month away and the pears are problematic for me. I can never be sure when they’re ready but this year, instead of receiving 4-6 fruits from each of our three trees, we will be picking in the hundreds so I can afford to test some, even if I’m early.
Working on the idea of an early start to Autumn, the clover seed, buckwheat and winter wheat will all go in together in the next fortnight. The clover is planned to be a living mulch, the buckwheat as a cover crop to scavenge as much phosphorus as they can and then seed off to wait for next Spring. The wheat will be the main crop for our bread needs and some chook feed. Maybe all our chook feed if things grow well. The main aim is to cover the bread flour needs which should be covered by 50 kg of grain. Two half kilo loaves a week is sufficient. I’ve been experimenting with no knead, slow ferment and even some sourdough versions and the bread is really good, even with commercial flours. I can’t wait to try flour I’ve milled in the ten minutes before I start the baking process.
Once the clover, buckwheat and wheat are in I’ll have time to expand the raspberries. There’s plenty of shoots coming up around the periphery of the patch and these will do nicely to expand the production. I am really enjoying the raspberries this year. Last winter we had a wind storm roll through here one night that put us in a brownout for a week while the crews worked on more urgent cases where trees took down power lines, roofs, cut roadways and generally made life less than ideal. While we were waiting everything with a motor in it was turned off, on the advice of TasNetworks. We still had some light, full interwebs, tellie and recharged phones/laptops. No running water though. We do have bathing facilities at work so it wasn’t too bad. But the freezer was turned off and eventually 75% of last summer’s raspberries were lost. Shop bought raspberries are a tasteless disappointment. Everything in season, I guess but I’ve still filled the freezer with about 9 kilos worth.
The great advantage of not trying to grow annuals over summer and I am grieving the corn crop, maybe a small, irrigated patch next year, maybe, the advantage is the savings in water use and the resting of soil in the oversized gardens/undersized fields, let’s call them sowing areas, ready for a minimum till and sowing the trio of seeds mentioned above. The decision has also freed up thinking time, bandwidth, if you like, creative space, I think you see what I mean.
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And while I’ve been leaving it alone the soil has been doing its thing. I have grassed walkways between the sowing areas that’s never min-tilled as a safety buffer against unexpected heavy rain between the min till and the germination of seeds. They haven’t been needed for that but I keep them. The point is these strips have dried out becoming rather hard underfoot whilst the sowing areas where I’ve allowed them to regrow in their own ways are soft and yielding underfoot. I try not to walk on them but did the other day out of interest. It is very pleasing to see the positive effects of growing a variety of things on an area and observing how different it is along a straight edge between sowing areas and pathways. Not that I use the pathways often, once a week maybe to sit and observe what’s going on or not. The major differences between the paths and the sowing areas is the sowing areas have been, well, sown. The chooks have scratched around for fallen grains and generally had a ball in oats I left to reseed into their patch, if the chooks have left any seed that it. And the pathways have been mown. The chooks have spent some time on these but seemed to prefer the sowing areas, that’s where the food was, so it makes sense.
Change of Season
An early Autumn here might mean an early Spring on the other side of the equator but I don’t think it works that way. Who’s to know. When we were being hammered by 45+ degree days for a week at time in early 2018, I believe Ireland was copping a snow storm leaving five or six foot snow drifts on the southern margin of the Republic. I know that’s not much snow to the Canadians out there but it was out of character for Ireland. Then again the plural of anecdote is not data but anecdotes so maybe things will progress as per the manual this year.
I hope the coming season are filled with wonder and joy and food and laughter no matter which side of the equator you live or even if you live astride the equator.
The ChangeUnderground Academy no-dig gardening course is still available. Link in the show notes. Please tell your friends!
Decarbonise the air, recarbonise the soil!
Thank you all for listening and I’ll be back, all things being equal, next week.
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