The Gordon Gnohm

Be sure to read my article, Future Farmer in The Braidwood Bugle every Wednesday. 

Garden Bed Prep

Does your Veggie Garden have enough nutrients to get through this growing season?

Most folks talk of hard work and sweat, and others less so. I’ve heard all the ways, and there are two common mistakes to avoid in your garden this Spring.

Avoid these common mistakes

ONE      Don’t bring in soil 

I have found it problematic to import soil. Sometimes its hydrophobic, too acid, too alkaline, sometimes its good. In spring and summer, I find it harder to get well composted soil as so much is sold. The quality of the soil is therefore variable, within acceptable limits. However, the limit I care most about is the weed seed, and I haven’t found a soil that didn’t have a decent load of seed in it. 

TWO     Don’t Dig

Digging over your soil is the worst thing you could do for the ecosystem that exists in your topsoil. Toiling has no place in my vegetable garden. I delegate to the microbes because they are the specialists.

Grandmas, Grandma didn’t dig over her garden to grow food for her family, she topped it with muck from the stables. Consisting of straw, manure and feed, from over wintering animals in the barn. This muck was added to the surface of her garden every two years and provided enough nutrients for a full crop rotation. 

I don’t have animals over wintering in my barn, so I explored options. I eventually developed the next best thing to mucking out the barn, it’s my No Weed Veggie Bed. Easy to create and requires Zero Digging. I have tried many variations, and this is by far the best and easiest way to prepare gardens for veggies.

My No Weed Veggie Bed works on any soil type, at any time of year. What you apply to the top will eventually be distributed throughout the soil by tiny critters. If there are any microbes living in your soil, they will be delighted when you add new materials to the top of their home. 

Starting a new bed or reviving an old one, the process is the same. 

Don’t mind the weeds or grass, you are going to start straight on top.

No Weed Veggie Bed Recipe

To start a 4m x 1m No Weed Veggie Bed you will need the following materials;

(reduce by half for existing beds)

  • 1 Bale Lucerne 
  • 1 Bale Pea Straw
  • 2 Bales Sugar Cane Mulch
  • 3-6 Barrows of Cow Manure
  • 3-6 Barrows of Mushroom Compost
  • 9L Rainwater in watering can
  • 4 cups Organic Worm Castings
  • 1 Dose Bombay Seed Traders Bioreactor 

Step 1  Lucerne

Spread across the surface of bed. No soil or plant matter should be visible through this layer.

Lucerne attracts water and starts the composting process at the surface of the soil. It will consume any living matter underneath so there is no need to weed or dig.

The table has now been set for the coming microbe party.

Step 2  Worm Castings

Apply organic worm castings, one cup per 1m2, directly on top Lucerne. 

The castings contain the microorganisms from the worms’ stomach. They are mineral rich, full of trace elements and other micro building blocks science is not yet aware of.

Consider this the catering for the upcoming party.

Step 3  Microbes

Time to introduce the guests. I choose ‘Bioreactor’ from Bombay Seed Traders. Their blend of Microbes, Fungi & Enzymes are the perfect way to convert your raw materials into nutrient rich compost, fast. 

Add one dose of Bioreactor to 9L of rainwater in a watering can with a rose. Water lucerne. It is super important to use rainwater on your garden because the salts used in town water inhibit the lifestyle of the microbes, too much salt in the soil creates barren wastelands for microbes and plants. 

Step 4  Manure

Apply 3-6 barrows to cover lucerne, Rake flat. 

Cow (or chicken) is my preference because seed is consumed in the gut. Horse & sheep manure are a good way to transport seed as they don’t digest them. Chicken manure is best used composted to make it more palatable early in the process.

Step 5  Pea Straw

Cover the manure with the extra carbon in pea straw. The Microbes really do appreciate the variety in the materials supplied and produce a superior product as a result. You are literally making a compost heap on top of the earth. The microbes party will compost the offering and it’ll be ready faster than you can imagine. 

Step 6  Mushroom Compost

Apply 3-6 Barrows directly on top of the Pea Straw. 

Mushroom Compost is a waste product and is readily available. Mushroom Compost is so well composted, there are zero weed seeds. The fungal network exists in the compost and will assemble, grow and develop when the conditions are right. It is the key to a successful soil food web.

Step 7  Sugar Cane Mulch

The final mulch layer is vital to the success of any garden bed. This layer gets applied thick. 100-150mm, it’ll settle down to less. Think of it like a blanket protecting your soil from the frost and sun. Water with rainwater to settle in bed.

Ta Da! Your No Weed Veggie Bed will be ready to plant in one week, if you can wait that long. You can plant straight away if you must but go easy to start. By the time your plants roots get down to the soil surface the composting will be complete.

This Week

I spied a pair of red browed tree creepers in the main garden. The Native pea flowers are starting to pop, as are the calendelias. The raspberries are putting on leaf as have some of the Chinese elms and Trident maples. The Mulberries got it right this year and are all sprouting leaf. The thornless blackberries are starting to flower.

Im Munching on Broccoli, cauliflower, spinach and lettuce. Watching the blueberries flower and dreaming of berries. The celery while looking super strong are hollow inside because of the lack of water this winter. I didn’t hand water, and it was a mistake.

This week I started striking seeds of summer vegetables in cold frames. Pumpkin, cucumber, zucchini, squash and melons. Spring has sprung and theres no time to waste. Winter had all the makings of a proper long one, with the early hard frosts in May, but it feels like August is getting warmer every year.

Soil temp in the garden is steady at 15C and the days are warming up. There’s plenty to do outside and get excited about. Whats your soil temp? 

Next week Tomatoes

Stay AwesomeThe Gordon Gnohm

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