Dishing the Dirt

This year is 'international year of the soil' and a very timely conversation to be having as we plough head on into summer planting and working hard to maximise the space we have available. The food you grow and serve on your dinner plate is only as good as the food you feed your soil.. Its that simple! Like all things gardening, it’s not rocket science but it is a hugely important, piece of the gardening jig saw puzzle.’m am truly grateful for the beautiful alluvial soil that I have on my home patch. It's packed with worms and so easy to turn over, however it would be foolish of me to think that I can plant season after season without giving back to the very soil that feeds us. Like anything I do in my garden, I try to keep it simple! I don’t want to become a scientist, I just want to grow food and bask in the knowledge, of knowing that the food I produce is as nutrient dense as possible. Also the healthier you can keep your soil, the lest disease and pest damage occurs. My Number one choice of food for my soil is ‘Roksolid’ this is the most power packed plant food I’ve ever used. It contains many of the elements and micro nutrients that our New Zealand soils lack. When Im using Roksolid I know that there is little else to add, as it is all conveniently packed into one mixture. Further more Roksolid is 'bio certified organic' which means that (as much as I can possibly manage) my garden is organic, so no additives. The worms love it, so once or twice a year, I always add it to my compost. rok Composting has become one of my favourite tasks down in my patch. Nothing delights me more than digging into the pit and discovering masses of worms, however I have to say, that composting has not been an overnight success for me. Each time I revisit my pile, I am improving on my home grown pile of 'future food' for my soil. composting-chart-606x412 Here at our shop, we ran a composting workshop with a keen group of gardeners and the information we all gleaned from those few hours, now has me back resorting my composting pile a bit more. If you are wanting to start a compost pile this summer, these are a few basic tips to get you going. The following information is how I make my pile, however there are many different methods. compost-816x459Knowing that I am not going to use this pile until next autumn at the earliest, ensures that I do it well and the end result is delicious, fine, crumply, sweet smelling food for my soil. Number 1 is, keep in mind that you are creating layers. Green layers include, horse poo, grass clippings (providing you haven’t used toxic sprays on nearby weeds), green garden waste, sand and sea weed. Then add a dry layer, this can include dry leaves, dry pruning's, newspaper, brown cardboard and ash from your fireplace ( only if you are burning untreated wood). Keep alternating your layers until you have a substantial pile. Intermittently sprinkle Lime and Roksolid on the green layers. Cover the pile with sacking or old woollen jumpers and lightly water using the garden hose, before you put your last cover on. I cover mine with polythene and weight it down with old bricks and planks of wood. This keeps the rain out and helps generate heat, which kick starts the micro organisms into doing their job. In about 6 weeks or so uncover it and stir up the pile with a garden fork. This will keep all those awesome micro organisms working hard. Be patient and learn from your mistakes, nature is the best teacher. If you have any questions jump onto our facebook page and PM me. Finally, Compost is like a good wine, it needs time to age and mature.