Monday, 9 June 2008

Before Winter Sets In.

June is the time for clearing up, pruning and preparing for the winter rains.

One important job that requires doing before winter sets in, is to make the biodynamic preparations. So last weekend with a perfect autumn day a few of us from the Adelaide Hills Biodynamic group set about filling the horns with fresh manure from Paris Creek BD farm, preparing the compost preparations of yarrow, chamomile, oak and dandelion.

The horns where buried in their usual pit of rich soil and the horn silica (501) was retrieved after spending summer in the earth.

The compost preparations in their clay pots are buried in the humus rich soil of the vegie garden. The oak is down in the wet valley.

Another job is to brush cut the banks after which they had an application of cow pat pit followed by horn manure (500). I then planted some mixed legumes and wheat seeds and within 24 hours the geese where systematically grazing the banks. But really it’s a win, win situation as they don’t often graze these steep banks. Their manure will add to the cut grass to break down and enrich the banks, they will miss a percentage of seeds so they can come back and graze on the new green growth.

I have been renovating a blackcurrant patch, which had been plant about 20 years ago in a star shape. Nice idea but they were a pain to manage and difficult to pick, so I finally decided it was time to change the area. A week or so ago with the help of Gibberagunyah Chris, we moved them into 5 rows , keeping some older bushes and planting some new ones I had propagated last year. After it was completed, I looked at the area and the types of weeds that where growing and decided the rows needed some attention and compost added.

As I embarked on the weeding I was firstly surprised how easily the fork slid into the soil and the weeds lifted out. These are not the usual backyard weeds, this area is often waterlogged (blackcurrants love this type of soil) and a special range of plants adapt to protect the soil .These include deep rooting dock, reeds and other water type plants with very fibrously deep roots and paspalum a very tough grass with very tight fibrous roots – the hardest to dig out.

As I weeded the tilth of the soil would make most vegie growers envious, the fork just glided through. The soil had not really been touched since the’ star’ was planted. Annual maintenance of brushcutting, and weeding around the bushes and adding a little compost. But I should not be surprised at the soil quality since the entire farm as been regularly treated with the biodynamic preparations in autumn and spring for the past 20+ years.

When we started in 1983 the whole valley was very waterlogged with a pH of 3.5- 4, very anaerobic and the soil smelt really bad in fact the stench stayed on your hands for days. Since then drains have been added, raised beds, compost and biodynamic preparations. The area still gets waterlogged – usually in spring, although in the last couple of years less so, the pH is around6-6.5 and the soil smells sweet and earthy.

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