Thursday, 27 July 2017

Baratzea – July

Yesterday I was working in the garden when a woman came passing by (as people are wont to do in such a public space).

‘Is that Comfrey (Solidage)? Where did you get it?’

I was impressed. Most people ask me what it is.

‘The guy who sold me my apartment left a potful on the terrace. I’ve been propagating it ever since. It takes really easily ’

‘Do you know where can I get some?’

‘If you wait a moment I will dig you up a root’.

I dug up a young shoot, put in a pot and gave it to her.  My visitor, who I have never met before, was delighted.  So was I.  Comfrey was, symbolically, the first thing I planted on the plot, to build fertility.  Over the past few months I have been given so many plants, seeds, gardening equipment (tools, stakes etc.) and composting materials so it was a real pleasure to start to return those favours. 

Baratzea looked like an ecological disaster zone two months ago.  Nitrogen demanding bacteria were busy consuming the cardboard and straw I had put down to suppress weeds, leaving no N for the plants, no matter what I threw at them.

I have improved that situation somewhat (same plant seven weeks later)

Baratzea naturally falls into four plots. The lower two (2&3) are doing quite well, the upper two (1 &4) require more attention.

Plot 1: Pumpkins and maize 

Plot 2: a little bit of everything that was available in May: though mostly onions, peppers, cabbages and fennel 

Plot 3: tomatoes and potatoes 

Plot 4: mostly beans and cabbage family (still to be planted) 

Plots 1 and 4 seem to be suffering from a fertility/compaction  problem.  The soil on these higher plots seems to have more clay, less loam and opens up less easily .  I’m working on that and will continue to do so over the coming season.  

The main challenge is building ‘an edge zone’ along the fences.  I’ve planted sunflowers, lupins, raspberries and other ‘barrier’ plants, but so far so few of them have taken.  Slowly I am working on that challenge too.  Check out my progress in a few weeks' time. 

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