Sunday, 19 August 2012

A bit of Sunday evening dabbling in the unknown..

OK, OK...not half as exciting as you might think - this is to do with the undiscovered country of sowing buckwheat as a green manure ;)

For those of you interested in moving away from artificial fertilisers, read on...
Since we started the Holly Cottage Garden two years ago, the learning curve of one ultra novice and one farmer's daughter has taking a sharp turn upwards. First of all it was the power of chicken manure - fresh and real stuff from the laying hens of Cappaduff farm; then the bee allure of Phacelia and now we are trying buckwheat. More on the power of chicken manure another time - let's focus on the stuff you plant this time.

My ignorance was exposed last year when a gardening-artist friend of mine asked me what did I think about Phacelia...sounded more like an exotic building part than the beautiful bee drawing pleasure that it really is.  Anyway, needing to educate me in all things green manure, I was duly sent home with a fistful of Phacelia seeds - looked a bit like poppy seeds, which I cast on the bare earth that at the time was our 'fruit alley'.

Fruit alley ;)
The seeds emerged within days and soon we had a purple haze of our own, full of the summer splendour of honey bees, bumble bees and hover flies that were immediately addicted. I didn't need further proof of its value, but then I realised the unseen magic. The tall plants collapse pretty easy once flowering ends - they can grow to over 1m. Dig these flopping stems into the earth, or add to the compost bin and hey presto...even richer black gold (an endearing, value description for those who are in awe of the compost bin contents after a year of egg shells, stems, and all good things cast aside in the garden).

Phacelia....bees love it!

Having quickly become a fan, I spread it a bit too late last year where we dug up the spuds for the winter. October was too late but the sparse and poor growth turned more vigorous once spring came around and the falling stems were duly dug into the earth to feed the following year's root vegetables.

I'll let you know how the Buckwheat goes - I got it via post from the Organic Centre in Rossinver

A veritable bargain at only €2.90 for a bog bag that covered about 4m x 4m - we will learn if that was too thick or too thin! We raked it into the soil that was just yesterday home to onions and British Queen potatoes.

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