1 July 2013

Filling up the soil

Gosh it's nice to be back. I've just emerged from a few days editing a big document on how climate change in New Zealand is likely to affect the soil.

Anna and her friend in the weekend.
One message that hit home with me is the important of putting carbon into the soil - that's leaves and other plant matter. It does wonderful things to soil - makes pores in it, and feeds all the little microbes that do important things, and generally grows plants better. It's going to become even more important as the climate changes, according to the scientists who wrote the report I edited.

Of course in nature those things just fall on the soil and it works well. We gardeners do crazy things like make bare soil! To compensate we need to add compost (which is full of carbon and useful microbes).

The leaves above, which are on our neighbour's front lawn, are destined for our compost bins and chicken run. My feathery ladies love sorting through things like that.

We're growing some good stuff for our soil this winter. It's a combination mix of oats, peas and legumes (the latter two fixing that other goodie - nitrogen - into the soil as they grow). The oats will make great mulch for our spring garden, but they have been very popular in these parts already.

The oats mix during last weekend's frost.

Not only does the cat eat them frequently, but the hens adore them, and every day I tear off a few handfuls so they get their greens.

Regarding climate change... a couple of years ago I was chatting with one of New Zealand's top climate scienstists. He worked for the intergovernmental panel for climate change in India but is now in Wellington, and is so bright you practically have to wear shades when you talk to him. He gets angry when people deny climate change will happen. But what about free speech, said I! Well, he said, it's worse than denying the holocaust (he's German). Because if the deniers are listened to, and as a result steps are not taken to reduce climate change, more people will suffer and die. A lot more, he said. Wow.

(NB: we bought the oat mix seed from www.kingsseeds.co.nz.)

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