I write this in the heatwave where several places in Britain reached 40°C today. Down at the allotment the jobs have been water, water, water, pick and repeat. Now is the time when I am really appreciating all the mulch I have used. See this post here for the compost I am using as mulch.
If you don’t mulch, the water just creates a run off and the path (and weeds) get a good watering but not the plant. You can see it in the photo and it means that every time I water, the water will just run off the soil on this pathway.
You can see a thin layer of mulch and then the sandier soil and stones under it on the run-off path.
However, if you mulch thickly, the mulch absorbs the water and traps it underneath, providing water to the plant and no where else!
Watch a short video of newly planted red cabbage (Kalibos) being watered with a whole watering can of water and no run-off at all. This was the second can on that patch and will last the plants up to a week depending on the sunshine and wind meaning I can spend more time picking.
This is a book that looks at the visible elements of global warming by visiting the boreal forest or the treeline which is the growing limit of trees in cold areas. In some places this line is a couple of metres thick and in others it is kilometers. The boreal forest is the less sexy of the forests – think of the attention on the Amazon rainforest but is the true lung of the world.
. . . the boreal is the planetary engine regulating patterns of wind, rainfall, climate and ocean circulation in the northern hemisphere.
Only a small number of trees make up the treeline – 3 conifers and 3 broadleaves all of which have evolved to withstand the cold. The Scots pine in Scotland, Spruce in Alaska, birch in Scandinavia, larch in Siberia and, to a lesser extent, poplar in Canada and Rowan in Greenland. But as the book makes clear, we also evolved from the forest landscapes – think of our opposable thumbs – and so it is not just the trees that are losing their way of lives but also the people who live and work in these cold lands. For example, the Sami in Finland and Russia where there is less and less space for the reindeer to roam as the ice disappears or doesn’t appear. The languages, cultures and traditions are being clung on to but many have developed other lives in conurbations rather than spending their time out on the snow and ice.
The book argues that we are between times. There is the past where we discovered how we came to be and how we fit into the grand scheme. We haven’t yet worked out how to be in the now or in the future where the past does not fit and this is unsettling
Rawlence’s solution is to reconnect with nature, in particular move to forest school for everything where nature is the classroom. He believes we need to become entangled with other living things to see their value to the planet and to ourselves so that we are thinking like a forest and can not cut down the trees or continue with global warming. If we think of other cultures who are entangled with other living things, not necessarily those connected to boreal forests such as the aborigines in Australia or the tribes that live in the rainforest, their respect and use of the land and animals is very different to ours. They take what they need, have respect for the land and all living things where we take what we want with no seeming end to it and see ourselves as the top of the pyramid of living things. As I sit and write this review in the second heatwave of the year and it is only the start of July, I wonder how long it will take us to get to that point and what crisis will deliver us there.
I have started a compost for seed sowing trial as I haven’t been happy with seed germination this year. This is my second post regarding the compost so you can see part 1 about how I set it up here.
The seeds have started to germinate and it is interesting to see what has happened because the composts are not all equal.
The seeds in the Westland (pic 1) and Gardener’s (pic 2) compost germinated first and so are slightly bigger than the Sylvagrow (pic 3) and Jack’s Magic (pic 4). The PSB are up as are the chard seeds but in all the composts the chicory has not yet germinated. If my memory serves me correctly, chicory can take a little longer to germinate and it may be a bit too hot at the moment. 28 degrees C in the shade today so much hotter in the greenhouse.
The beans are a no-show at the moment but one is visible in the Gardener’s compost. And finally, the Geums.
They are all doing well but the second picture shows the Sylvagrow multipurpose compost and it dries out quicker than all the other composts and in this hot weather needs two waterings a day. The water also runs out of the pots much more when watering, suggesting that it is not being held onto by the compost. I would say that if I use this compost I will need to put trays underneath to hold onto the water that runs out and allow it to be absorbed throughout the day.
I’ll check in again when I transplant the seedlings which if they continue the same way that they are will not all be on the same day.
I haven’t been pleased with the seed germination rates this year and have also been a little less than positive about the compost I have been using so thought I would undertake a seed sowing trial of composts to see which is the best.
I normally buy Jack’s Magic compost which this year is a new and improved formula. I applaud them for removing the peat but you can’t just add sticks instead. They need to be more composted before they are used. (See photo for one of the sticks found when sowing seeds in the trial.)
I have chosen three types of compost available from Garden Centres where I live and I have bought new packets of seed so that I can be a little more sure that my failures are not just due to older seed.
My first is Westland’s Gardener’s Multipurpose Compost which states quite clearly on the front that it has peat in it. I don’t normally choose composts with peat but this is what is available locally so I thought I had just one compost with peat – about 70% judging by the back of the bag. However, meet compost number 2
This bag from Westland of multipurpose compost says nothing about having peat in it. It is only when you turn it over that you see it has about 45% peat in it. I really only wanted one with peat so I should have read what was in it before I bought it.
The third compost is Sylvagrow multipurpose compost which is quite different in texture – almost like flakes rather than fibres. I have used this before and didn’t think it had enough nutrients in it but I am giving it a second go.
The seeds I have are ones I haven’t grown before in terms of variety. Chard – Fire Fresh F1. I have never grown an F1 chard and am not sure that it is necessary but it will be interesting to see how it differs from open pollinated chard. Then there is a chicory – Treviso – as my seeds of this have failed so far along with PSB Rudolph whose seeds I already had unopened but due to expire in September 22. And finally, some dwarf french beans as my first lot I planted over an ants nest. These are called Mistick. All are from Thompson and Morgan apart from Rudolph which is Kings. I sowed the chicory, PSB and chard into a tray and the beans into modules. I also had six plug plants of ‘Totally Tangerine’ Geum which I potted up in the composts to see how they do. Each compost had one strong plant and one that was a bit weaker.
See how the composts differed when the seeds germinated here.