Does that extra inch matter, I hear you ask? It does! All high performance crops blossom far better with an annual 2” dressing of compost than with only 1”.
We all know the benefits of a layer of compost scattered over the soil surface: bigger yields, healthier plants, moisture retention and weed suppression.
As I had it for free, I used to use cow manure from the farmer next door. His cattle are fed silage, which has no weeds in it, and I could cherry pick well rotted barrowfulls straight from his cattle shed in mid summer.
Now a neighbouring arable farmer cleans out his barns as soon as the cows go out to grass and spreads it on hia arable. This is good, as it fertilises his arable, promotes soil structure, reduces soil erosion and water run-off.
So now we buy recycled green waste, a big 500 litre dumpy bag dropped by a crane lorry just where we want it for just £31—delivered free up to 25 miles from Paulls of Martock. We have been trying it for a while and it is doing us proud. It comes well sieved, stone and weed free and sterilised—so no pests either.
Don’t dig it in. There have been many articles lately decrying the amount of earthworms killed by digging, rotavating and ploughing, together with loss of soil structure. Just chuck it on the surface.
Making your own compost is always best if you can. The bigger the heap, the quicker it rots and the better the heat generated to kill weed seeds. We keep pigs which turn all compostable material into both manure and sausages.
When to put it on? Whenever you can. For us the best time is May onwards to mulch and feed active crops, but do it whenever you canl. The beauty of organic matter is that it is too cold to break down and disappear in the winter, but is actively broken down and used by soil life when it warms up, which is when the plant needs it.
And we were surprised to hear recently that it only rains twice a year in England: August through April and May through July.
What to sow this month
Aquadulce broad beans are the main outdoor crop this month, for harvesting next June. Our feathered and furry friends love them, so protect them with netting or fleece. If your soil is low in organic matter the soil may waterlog and then slugs will eat them.
Indoors we will be sowing lots of Douce Provencale peas for harvesting next April and May.