Sunday, October 29, 2006

Autumn harvest

We have been inspired by El at Over the past week she has been talking about collecting collecting up and shredding leaves, so today Zoe and I set to work on the bracken at the top of the copse.
We have two aims. Firstly we want to clear the bracken away from the bottom of the field but more importantly we want to make compost.
Compost is a difficult area for us. We grow without pesticides and herbicides and according to organic principles. I would love to use organic potting compost but 2 years ago we trialled 12 different organic composts for seed sowing and potting on and it was a disaster . Most of the seeds failed to germinate in the coarse twiggy compost and where I potted on germinated seedings into organic compost they actually shrank. I didn't have many back ups. I cried.

While organic composts are improving, they also come at a very high price premium and I think that the only long term solution is to begin making our own compost. We have begun a turf stack and will add to this when we strip out the front lawn in the Spring. I intend to mix the resulting loam with light moist composted bracken.

Zoe and I cut the fronds and are taking them up to an area of decking at the top of the field - if the weather is good we can leave them there to dry, otherwise they will have to go into the tunnel for a bit. I need them to be dry so that we can put them through the shredder to speed up the composting.

It was a lovely job - I am still wheezy with the cold - but my helper was fantastic and the sun had real heat in it. We managed to harvest an area about 10 feet by 20 feet, though I have my suspicions that it will rot down into a single bucket of leaf mould


Primrose Hill said...

Hi Jane, Hope you had a successful trip to the sundries place - you'll no doubt be up and down the road a few times over the next month or so! I had a quick look on the BBC site - the TV program that was showing the farmer making compost out of bracken, wool and manure was on Countryfile. The show has it's own page on the BBC website so you might be able to contact them to find out the farmers details? I'm pretty sure he was in Cumbria, hope this helps.
Lisa x

Jane said...

Thanks Lisa - my trips to your part of the world are jinxed - last week the lights and flat battery episode - this time there was a bang and my tyre blew up just outside Perth.
It was 1st time this has happened to me - I thouht that the car had collapsed like one of those clown cars at a circus.
Fortunately 2 waterboard men fixed it all up for me - it is amazing how ditsy I can look on the edge of a dual carraigeway looking at the remnants of a tyre.
I'll check out the Countryfile programme