As ever in Ireland we have a confused boundary between the seasons, a hard frost covered the lawns this morning laying on grass that has grown quite vigorously over the last week, needing a trim to look tidy; though as is often the case in gardening maybe looking tidy isn’t in the interests of the plants. People often seem to forget that grass is a plant and so needs green leaves to photosynthesise and produce food to grow vigorous roots. Leaving the grass to grow a bit over the winter probably leads to a healthier lawn next year; though if I left all the lawns to grow away for the winter people would probably think I was neglecting my duties; cutting with the blade set as high as possible for the cold months seems the best compromise.
Winter tidiness in the veg patch can also be detrimental to plant and soil health. A lot of routine gardening practice is a carry-over from a Victorian view of the world, where mastery over nature and regimented tidiness was the way to manage a garden. Winter digging leaving bare soil exposed to the elements over the winter was seen as the way to look after the soil (and still is in some gardening books). This is something we try to avoid at GROW HQ. We aim to have something growing on our soil at all times, either a crop growing over the winter or a green manure. In early Autumn, we use a rye grass/clover mix and later in the Autumn we use grazing rye for a soil cover. The soil should be covered and have roots in it to keep it alive, remember your soil is an ecosystem not an inert growing medium. A grower should try to see the world from the point of view of a plant or a worm. Personally, I sometimes feel it’s easier to empathise with a worm’s eye view of the world than that of some frenetic, materialistic people – I guess that’s why I’m a gardener!
If anyone feels the urge to discuss a worm’s eye view of the world with me (and who wouldn’t?) we are running a “Healthy Soil for Healthy Plants” workshop on Sunday 10th December (please note change of date) at GROW HQ.
It was great to see different groups of people making use of our garden last week. We had a school’s day for Science Week (possibly a week early?) where local primary pupils came in looking at soils, seeds & worms. It was great to see their enthusiasm and possibly to encourage a few growers of the future. Then on Saturday I had the chance to meet a few GIY’ers who came on the Fruit Garden workshop. As ever there was a wealth of growing knowledge in the group who came in, I sometimes feel I learn more than anybody on these days, so please keep coming in and help complete my horticultural education.