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Louise Watts

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since Jun 19, 2016
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Recent posts by Louise Watts

 A little aerated compost tea sprayed on your newly added layers can speed that up if your concerned; however, definitely keep the mulch over that manure, as aerobic things can sometimes cause leaf disease on more sensitive plants like tomatoes.  

Thank you - that's useful to know. Just to check I understand correctly, I'm ok to use this as my compost layer on the sheet mulch (and another layer of straw on top) before planting? I also have some fresh manure I'm picking up today so wondering whether to use that as the nitrogen layer instead.

Got them wet and the heat took off after a week or so.

 Did you just leave them in pile and wet them without turning?

My remaining bags are just sitting outside so I guess they're getting pretty wet as it's rained quite a lot recently. The "compost/manure" was really odd - some bits were sopping wet, other bits seemed totally dry and other bits had lumps of grey clay in them! in the pit it was dug from, you could see layers on the side between quite dark brown, more flaky dry bits and layers what I think was subsoil. I don't have the money for a proper test either and it's absolutely killing me to have to wait weeks but in the meantime I'm just getting the plants prepared in containers. The test I've done is just to plant tomato seeds in a manure pot and tomato seeds in a coconut coir pot to see what happens. I also had two 4 inch tomato plants and did the same with those. I think legumes are supposed to be the best ones to test but I wonder if I'm a bit late with sowing more beans.
Thank you all for your replies - lots of useful ideas to try! The compost drum sounds intriguing so I'll take a look at that.

For the time being, I've just made a bit of a heap with half of the mix and added in some plant food scraps and straw, given it a bit of a water and covered it. The weather where I am is pretty terrible right now! I'm hoping it won't get too hot or at least if it does that the worms can escape. The rest I've just left in the bags until I see what happens with the plant tests.

You can dilute the uncompost if you mix it with regular dirt about 50/50 or so.

You could put that uncompost under the cardboard then do your lasagna layers.  

If I go ahead with the lasagne and put the uncompost underneath, would I still need a layer of high nitrogen after the cardboard then usual layers, etc.? I do have local source of fresh manure I could use (although, again I'm still going to have to run these herbicide tests on it ) and also a source of grass clippings.

Worms won't live in manure if its hot, so assuming the manure was collected from a minimum 3 yard pile, it suggests the manure already heated up

Yes, they had this huge heap (maybe 25sqm) that they said was around 8 years old and had dug about an 8ft hold in the middle of it where I took the stuff from but yes, it doesn't look like much oxygen has got to it/hasn't been turned during that time.

but far enough away its not touching the root crop.

Should the manure be far enough away that it wouldn't touch the area where the bottom of a carrot would grow into?

Thanks again!

I think I read that aminopyralid won't affect mushroom growth so worst-case and if it is contaminated, I wonder if I can use it as a growing substrate, although I'm not sure if then the herbicide could end up inside the mushroom? I did have a look to see if anyone had tried treating these herbicides with fungi as seems plausible given their amazing clean-up abilities, and although it looks like there are/were plans for experiments, I couldn't find any detailed results
Hi all

I've studied some permaculture but I'm quite new to gardening and would be grateful if you could comment on whether you think these polycultures would be ok as I'd like to grow some vegetables. I'm planning a 3-4sqm plot on compacted clay earth.

Bed 1: Sweet pea, tomato, basil, mint, rocket, spring onions, carrot
Bed 2: Cucumber, kale, dill, spinach, parsnip
Bed 3: Beans, squash, Romesco broccoli, endive lettuce, marigolds (not sure what to do for the root layer here, and the beans aren't ideal as they're a bush variety that I was given, rather than a climber)

Come winter, I wonder if I can add some garlic, more rocket and onions?

I also have some nasturtium and sunflower seeds but not sure if/how I could fit these in. Any thoughts on how to improve the above?

Also, I had a problem yesterday when I picked up what I was told was compost but after I got a tonne of it back home, I was told it was only semi-rotted manure! I'm a bit worried about the presence of aminopyralid so I've planted up some tomatoes in it to do a test. Not ideal as I really wanted to get underway and will now have to wait 3-4 weeks but on the positive side, it's absolutely full of worms.

However, the "compost" I thought I was getting was intended to go on the top of a sheet mulch I'm making (cardboard, manure, grass, straw, then compost) so I'm now without my compost layer. I'm not even sure if I can use the semi-rotted stuff as the manure layer as someone told me it probably wouldn't have much nitrogen in it. Is that right? I wondered whether I should hot compost it as then could be ready by the time the aminopyralid test is finished, but I'm a bit reluctant to kill of those worms so not sure what to do with it!

Thanks in advance
Thanks Mike! That info alone about the chickens is really helpful as would substantially eat into the customer's weekly allotted time. They have quite a lot of existing ornamentals they'd like to keep so with the added elements, it's probably too much.

The pond is mainly for aesthetics, although I'd hoped any overflow could irrigate the fruit tree. I'd originally hoped it could attract more wildlife (it was positioned next to the salad bed), but the customer has 2 cats (plus the neighbourhood Tom that frequents the garden) so establishing a frog population would probably be nigh on impossible!
4 years ago
Hi all

I've been doing an online PDC course and part of the assessment is to design a site. I've chosen a garden that's around 8m x 9m big and had to provide some concepts before the final design. I found this part really difficult as although I've read the theory, I'm finding it really hard to work out even rough planting locations based on the plants' needs, along with taking all the site factors into account.

Anyway, the feedback I've had is that the proposals are too complex with too many elements for someone to look after. The owner can dedicate about 7-8 hours per week in maintaining the garden (he's also a ornamental gardener by trade) so I've been told to take this more into account. However, I find it really hard to know how long general maintenance takes as I'm not an experienced gardener by any stretch of the imagination (two false starts in veg gardening)!

The designs have a small pond, an espalier fruit tree, a pergola with climbers, an dwarf fruit tree (with Russian comfrey underneath), 2 chickens, a compost heap, some ornamental beds, some herb beds, a wild "meadow patch" and some standard lawn. There is a small bed for salads and another for potatoes and beans. In terms of simplifying it, what do you think would take the most maintenance? I have no idea how much work a pond needs but I'm thinking that I'll need to scrap the chickens. Again, I know dwarf trees and espaliers are more time consuming than vigorous, but no idea of how much time needs to be dedicated.

On another note, I'm advised comfrey isn't good to plant under fruit trees when they're young - would I be better off with lavender, hyssop, nasturtiums, etc? And at what age can you start planting comfrey.

4 years ago
Hi Paul

I was planning on doing a PDC close to me in Europe until I saw this!

However, I really want to go on and do teacher training at the end of this year and while the organisation has said an online course is fine as it meets the 72 hour requirement, they've said I can only be eligible for the teacher training if I have a certificate!

Is this something that can be obtained after the 177 downloaded videos just to say I've completed it, or is some kind of assessment available? I was thinking that the online course would save me a lot of money which I'd then be able to invest in a specialist practical course.

4 years ago