Neem Cake Reduces Alkalinity In Soil (PH Down)

Neem-Cake

“Neem seed cake also reduce alkalinity in soil, as it produces organic acids on decomposition. Being totally natural, it is compatible with soil microbes, improves and rhizosphere microflora and hence ensures fertility of the soil. Neem Cake improves the organic matter content of the soil, helping improve soil texture, water holding capacity, and soil aeration for better root development.”Wikipedia

There it is, another added benefit of the Neem Cake is its ability to create a favourable growing environment on the more alkaline soils. So not only are you getting an excellent source of organic nutrients and the “pest and disease resistance” it’s also working as a soil conditioner too.

The below shows how soil PH affects the availability of nutrients to the plants, it’s useful as a general guide.

Soil Structural Degradation In England And Its Affects On Runoff And Flooding

Flooding soil run off Kemble Thames source

Field investigations between 2002 and 2011 identified soil structural degradation to be widespread in SW England with 38% of the 3243 surveyed sites having sufficiently degraded soil structure to produce observable features of enhanced surface-water runoff within the landscape. Soil under arable crops often had high or severe levels of structural degradation. Late-harvested crops such as maize had the most damaged soil where 75% of sites were found to have degraded structure generating enhanced surface-water runoff. Soil erosion in these crops was found at over one in five sites. A tendency for the establishment of winter cereals in late autumn in the South West also often resulted in damaged soil where degraded structure and enhanced surface-water runoff were found in three of every five cereal fields. Remedial actions to improve soil structure are either not being undertaken or are being unsuccessfully used. Brown Sands, Brown Earths and loamy Stagnogley Soils were the most frequently damaged soils. The intensive use of well-drained, high quality sandy and coarse loamy soils has led to soil structural damage resulting in enhanced surface-water runoff from fields that should naturally absorb winter rain. Surface water pollution, localised flooding and reduced winter recharge rates to  result from this damage. Chalk and limestone landscapes on the other hand show little evidence of serious soil structural degradation and <20% of fields in these landscapes generate enhanced runoff.

LINK: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/sum.12068/abstract

STUDY: http://eureferendum.com/documents/sum12068.pdf

DIRECT DOWNLOAD: https://planetpermaculture.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/sum12068.pdf

Guide To Sustainable Soil Management

BuildingSoilsOriginal A thorough, free, easy-to-read guide for ecological soil management which includes nutrient management, nutrient cycles, cover crops and other soil-improving practices. “Building Soils for Better Crops is a one-of-a-kind, practical guide to ecological soil management, now expanded and in full color. It provides step-by-step information on soil-improving practices as well as in-depth background—from what soil is to the importance of organic matter. Case studies of farmers from across the country provide inspiring examples of how soil—and whole farms—have been renewed through these techniques. A must-read for farmers, educators and students alike.” LINK: http://www.sare.org/Learning-Center/Books/Building-Soils-for-Better-Crops-3rd-Edition DIRECT DOWNLOAD: https://planetpermaculture.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/buildingsoilsforbettercrops.pdf

Good Old Organic Gardening Advice

This is a fabulous short video I’ve just come across from a 90’s TV series called “Garden Naturally” by Barbra Damrosch and Eliot Coleman.

This is all really sound advice and its as relevant and accurate today as it was back then. To me it seems a little ahead of it’s time in a sense but then I guess these “gardening” techniques tend not to change a great deal and nor should they really. Excellent clip showing what organic gardening growing is all about, keeping it simple and always remembering to “feed the soil and the soil will feed the plants”.

Subjects covered: Soil Fungi, Rock Soil Amendments, Soil Aeration, Organic Matter, Nitrogen Fixation, Compost Making, Scything Weeds, Planting Soft Fruit, Pruning, Mulching Weeds, Soil Fertility & PH, Planting Techniques etc

More to come from Eliot Coleman, in the next few posts to the blog…

Study Says Allotment Soil Is Better Than Conventional Farm Land For Food Growing

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Soil report shows we should all grow more of our own – New research confirms that soil in allotments and back gardens is richer – and more productive – than on farms

Soil is one of the great failures of modern intensive agriculture. Healthy soils, beneath natural grasslands and – especially – woodlands, contain lots of organic matter. This organic matter holds onto nutrients and gives the soil structural stability, allowing it to resist damage by, for example, heavy rain, thus preventing erosion. There’s also plenty of life in a healthy soil, lots of burrowing earthworms, and so lots of pore space too. A healthy soil is basically a giant sponge, which fills up with water after rain, gradually releasing that water to plants in dry weather.

When land is cleared for agriculture, and especially for arable crops, all that goes out of the window. The organic matter in arable soils is lost to the atmosphere as CO2, and the soil loses its structure and strength, leading to compaction and erosion. Arable soils also lose their ability to hold onto water, nutrients and pollutants, leaking nutrients into groundwater and lakes and rivers, causing eutrophication and, if the water is for human use, the need for expensive water treatment.

Although this is all depressingly well-known, the conventional view is that all this soil degradation is the price we have to pay for the high yields of arable crops on which we all depend. But, says new research just published in the Journal of Applied Ecology [Urban cultivation in allotments maintains soil qualities adversely affected by conventional agriculture], gardening proves the conventional view to be completely wrong. The researchers looked at the properties of soils on allotments in Leicester, along with those from other urban sites, and compared them with soils beneath arable fields and pasture in the countryside around Leicester.

The arable soils showed all the usual symptoms: compacted, lifeless and low in organic matter. Allotment soils, by contrast, were more open, more fertile, and higher in organic matter, in fact they weren’t all that different from soils beneath woodland. The reason isn’t hard to find: composting of allotment waste is virtually universal among allotment holders, most also import household green waste as well, and use of manure and other kinds of commercial compost is widespread. In short, soils on allotments are healthy because allotment holders go to a lot of trouble to keep them that way.

Continue reading “Study Says Allotment Soil Is Better Than Conventional Farm Land For Food Growing”

How To Really Stop Flooding

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When soil is depleted of organic matter, water just runs off it. A rethink of farming practice is much more vital than dredging or barriers.

The Prince of Wales’s visit to the Somerset Levels has once more drawn attention to the dire circumstances faced by thousands of people because of floods. And as more extreme rain drenches the UK, calls for more flood defences and river dredging have predictably become louder. There is, however, another focus that has been hardly mentioned. It’s soil or, more specifically, the benefits we could gain by treating it better.

The way we use land has fundamentally altered the way that many of our soils work. Intensive cultivation and grazing cause massive soil loss, with sediments leaving fields to clog up watercourses. Machinery and animal hooves have also caused many soils to become compacted so that, instead of absorbing water, holding it and slowly letting it go, it runs off hard impermeable surfaces all at once.

Because of intensive farming reliant on inorganic fertilizers, there has also been a widespread reduction in the proportion of soils comprising decaying plant remains – the so-called organic matter. Soils depleted in this way hold less water than when they have a healthier proportion of once living material, thereby further altering their ability to ameliorate flood risk.

Continue reading “How To Really Stop Flooding”

The Green Manure Crop With Added Bite

The Green Manure Crop With Added Bite

Caliente Mustard Seed is not just a green manure it also acts as a “biofumigant” for the soil. Biofumigants suppress various soil borne pests and diseases by releasing naturally occurring compounds when you incorporate them back into the soil.

The foliage must be crushed or finely chopped for it to release a natural gas (isothiocyanate) which effectively reduces and suppresses a range of harmful nematodes and diseases in the soil.

The combination of biofumigation plus the digging in of the green material (organic matter), increases beneficial soil microbes, which out-compete pathogen microbes helping to keep soil diseases down.

Caliente Mustard is a Brassica so if problems are present with Club-root, Caliente Mustard will succumb to the disease so use appropriately within a rotation

The benefits of use for the home gardener for most crop and soil types are:
-Improved root systems and a measurable increase in yield of following crops
-Suppression of a range of soil-borne diseases including Verticillium wilt, Rhizoctonia, Pythium, Fusarium, and Sclerotinia
-Suppresses a range of harmful nematode species
Improved soil structure and fertility
-Suppresses weeds; mainly soft-seeded annuals, soon after incorporation

Caliente Mustard can be sown in spring or late summer for a quick crop, or mid-autumn for over-wintering in milder areas.

The finer the chop the better the result, running over the area with a rotary mower or strimmer to chop well before digging the chopped up foliage and roots into the top 15-20cm (6inches) of the soil within 20 mins of chopping up, otherwise 80% of the beneficial gases will escape into the air.
Rake the soil to a fine tilth and firm or roller to keep gases locked in. Water the area thoroughly.
Rest the soil for 14 days before sowing/planting new seeds/crops, then sow/grow crops as soon as possible to get the best benefits from Caliente Mustard.

Although I’m in the colder area I’m going to experiment and mix this in with my “field bean” crop for over wintering and cover with fabric, hopefully some will survive in amongst the field beans and I’ll dig the lot in come Spring 2015. I’m hoping they’ll survive in little “micro climate” pockets with the added assistance of the horticultural fabric.