24 October 2012

Darkly intimate soil surprises

I got darkly intimate with our soil in the weekend. As I tucked little lettuce and zucchini seedlings into it, I noticed many little gifts that are thanks for our laziness. 

The biggest surprise was this patch of what I'm almost certain are basil seedlings*, babies of last summer's plants left to go to seed that have popped up in a shady spot on the south side of a compost bin. Just when I was thinking it still wasn't warm enough to sow basil seeds myself! 

(Northern hemisphere readers will have to flip their reality over for a while - down here the south side is the cold side, and we are meant to be in full spring warmth, although this morning we woke up to find roofs covered in frost! I can never remember one so late in the year. But the weather forecast told me it was likely so I had covered our tender seedlings.)

The basil - which is surrounded by similarly feral lettuce and coriander seedlings - had a better chance because of the lazy gardener mode I've recently dived into even more enthusiastically. This is thanks to listening to a radio interview with Fiona Eadie, head gardener at Larnach Castle in Dunedin (click here to see what stunning results she gets - I must go there soon). 

These are the points that have stuck with me since the interview:
- don't destroy the soil structure by digging in compost! Instead make a just-big enough hole for planting, and put compost on top of the soil. The soil organisms will transport the goodness downwards.
- mulch everything. Here's my favourite: when weeding, just lie the weeds down on the soil around the plants to act as mulch. That's how nature does it. She thinks thick layers of newspaper are great to use as mulch, too.

She was preaching to the converted - I've written about the joys of lazy gardening before - but I happily soak up further encouragement.

* later note: sadly, they turned out to be weeds. I watered and protected weeds from frost. They grew virulently.

1 comment :

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