Monday, 28 January 2008

More education..and a little seed advice.

Getting some air

So far we know we need some dead stuff and some ground up mountains ,or organic matter and mineral,
To create the soil we want to grow in. The next part may be a little harder to measure, or even see.
It is Air
Air is in some ways the most important part of the soil. Without it, nothing else can be released from the soil, nothing can penetrate the soil and very little will survive without it.
The secret with air is where it is. It lies in the spaces in between the particles or the crumbs of soil. Without the air, water fills the space and the soil becomes waterlogged. Oxygen is essential for healthy root growth and for plant respiration. Yes, plants breath. Organisms such as bacteria need air to respire and keep the plant healthy.
We need it, plants need it.
It’s no fun without it!
Bring your snorkel and wellies to the next blog.
It’s about something we may have had a little too much of recently.
Back to the hard work now.
Out of the class room, seeds need to be sown.
Sweet peas, more broad beans and early under cover lettuce can go in now.
Under cover means indoors, on a light windowsill or in a cool greenhouse, beneath a cloche in the garden or in a propagator .
That little bit of protection can raise the soil temperature by up to a couple of degrees.
In older times, and probably still in some parts of deepest Somerset, the best way to check if the soil was warm enough to sow was to sit bare cheeked on the soil. If you could do so, without risk of serious chilblains, it was ready!
I’ll stick to the method for hardy seeds. Look for annual weed seeds germinating. If the locals can bear the weather, the outsiders can. For half hardy seeds, I wait until I can happily walk about in shirt sleeves.
Television gardeners, competition growers and seed wholesalers may try to pin the sowing dates down to a few weeks but we all know that Mother Nature, like any woman, is fickle. Try to note in your diary what the weather was like, what temperatures and how much rain or sun we had. That way, you will be able to compare the rates of success between different growing conditions and judge for yourself when to sow in future years.
That is precisely what the grizzled old men who have been working the soil for decades already know.
Watch them, ask them and don’t be embarrassed to copy. In this instance, flattery is a very good idea.
Good gardening!

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