6 July 2018
Now that we’re past the shortest day, it’s time to take a break from planting and prepare garden beds that are empty, or becoming empty as you harvest your winter vegetables, ready for spring. I find a good way to do this is cover the garden beds, and there are a few steps.
Covering beds will not only stop compaction of the soil, but also help suppress weeds which continue to thrive even in the cooler conditions.
So, the first thing to do is fork over the bed. We prefer not to dig soil over with a spade as that can destroy soil structure. We simply want to aerate it. I like using my larger broad fork, but a general garden fork works just as well.
Next, we apply some organic fertiliser made from volcanic rock and seaweed. Fresh seaweed would also work well.
Then we add an animal manure. We love our chook poo, but sheep pellets or cow manure are also great.
Then we cover the bed with straw. We’re using oat straw but lucerne or pea straw work equally well. Over winter this rots down to a dark friable organic matter.
Lastly, we cover the bed. You can do this with cardboard or coconut fibre but here we’re using a weed mat which is strong and reusable and also breathes. The black colour will warm up the soil too.
Weigh the mat down with bricks or tent pins and leave until the weather warms up around mid-September. You’ll be amazed at the results, especially no weeds!
Our broad beans are now 40-50 cms high and doing well in this cooler weather. Firstly, we give the bed a weed with our Niwashi, maintaining the mounds the beans are planted on. Now this is the time to nip off the growing tips so they branch more from below, making the plants stronger. They won’t grow as tall, but they’ll be bushier and have more fruit and won’t need for staking.
The bonus of nipping out the tips is they’re great to eat both fresh and cooked. In fact, you can harvest the tips all winter long, when fresh greens are in short supply.
From Rob, Jan and the Team at OEG! Keep warm!