It’s been an exciting few months since starting my job at The Small Holding. In the midst of yet another lockdown and the feeling of restriction caused by it, it will soon be time to start seed sowing and the prospect of lots of lovely new vegetable seedlings ready to plant out is what is keeping me going through these tough times.
One of the main tasks over the past few weeks has been creating new no-dig beds. We marked out all the bed widths using string lines, including paths in the middle of each to allow us to walk in between them and so we can plant, weed and harvest from both sides without having to stand on the beds. We have also added a layer of spent hops from a local brewer to some sections, this additional organic matter will add beneficial nitrogen to the soil upon decomposition.
We applied a thick layer of compost to each bed and applied wood chip to the paths that we sourced from a local tree surgeon.The compost is perfectly fine to apply on top of the existing soil without incorporating it - while the clay soil looks very firm it is not compacted, and worms and other organisms will do the work for us over time. By applying a 1-inch thick layer of compost each year we should see a noticeable improvement to the soil structure, better water retention and improved yields, as has been observed in the beds that were converted to no-dig in the previous year. I will look forward to seeing the results for myself in the coming months!