An Allotment in Hungerford............
As I write this we're preparing for the Allotments Open Afternoon. Hopefully
it will be well attended, the sun will shine and even more people can understand
the appeal of the Marsh Lane allotment site!
Harvesting continues at each visit to the plot - potatoes, beetroot, asparagus
peas and courgettes at the moment. It's been a good year for growing, with
plenty of sunshine and water; mostly courtesy of the borehole which HAHA
received a grant for in 2010, but recently from the clouds too.
We are pleased that the site now has a more regular supply of manure. Plotholders
love to add manure to their plots for several reasons: to use as mulch,
assisting water retention, to add structure to the soil, to replenish lost
nutrients like potassium and nitrogen and for encouraging worms and other
good guys to work through the soil aerating it as they go.
We also make our own compost. Perhaps it sounds a bit weird, but creating
fresh compost from waste matter is extremely satisfying! We have the dalek-style
bins. They aren’t necessarily the best type because they’re
awkward to work with a fork and the little door at the bottom is pointless,
but they heat up nicely to encourage the micro-organisms to do their bit
in the process.
The main thing to remember with home composting is that you need a mix of
'green' (nitrogen) and 'brown' (carbon) materials. I’ve read that
compost should be made up of 25 parts brown to 1 part green and other sources
say 50/50. Neither of these are the case in our compost but we seem to be
doing something right as the worms love it and that surely is a good sign.
We have much more green matter such as: kitchen and vegetable waste (not
potato haulms), coffee grounds, teabags, deadheaded flowers, cuttings/thinnings
(nothing diseased), weeds (not perennials), grass cuttings (not too many).
Brown waste, for us, is mostly cardboard boxes (ripped into small pieces),
screwed up newspaper, occasional eggshells, twiggy cuttings and weeds which
we've allowed to dry out completely (even couch grass).
The compost must be mixed up regularly. This encourages decomposition through
the layers and stops it becoming a home for mice or other undesirables –
although they may still move in to enjoy the warmth over winter. It's fascinating
to open the lid on the world within. Our bins have so many woodlice, beetles
and millipedes which scramble away when the light gets in. Worms and slugs
(the good kind) join in with the decomposition process and a few months
later, voila! lovely compost to put back into the ground under our strawberries.
Recycling at its best!
Contact HAHA on 0754 118 7274