Summer loveliness in my edible garden, (plus sweet peas, beautiful, smell amazing, but not edible), everything seems to have survived the really hot weather last week and without much extra watering thanks to the awesomeness of mulch!
The view of my edible garden from my bedroom window. I’ve been taking a photo of this view at the same time each month for the last three months, in order to observe the changes in a semi- structured way. (See June’s garden blog post)
One of my favourite #fromthegarden dishes - Stuffed courgette flowers, filled with cooked potatoes, broad beans, shredded chard & kale, garlic chives - drizzled with olive oil (not grown by me!) - baked in the oven for about 30 minutes and then garnished with calendula, rocket, borage, nasturtium and coriander flowers.
I have several insect water stations placed at various heights in my garden, marbles, stones and shells provide perches for insects to rest on while they drink, they also look really pretty.
I cut my urban meadow over the space of two weeks, strimming small sections each day so that insects could move into adjacent areas. I left about 20% of the meadow, again in small sections, uncut, so there continues to be food and habitat while the rest of the vegetation grows again. The cuttings were all gathered and removed so that the meadow area soil doesn’t become too fertile which would result in many perennial meadow plants not thriving in future years. I used the cuttings to mulch an area of the meadow border where I have planted willow as a hedge. The willow will out grow any meadow seeds that germinate from the mulch.
I left this area of my urban meadow near to my door, standing as it looks beautiful and hopefully inspirational, for anyone visiting my home.
As I’m typing this The Guardian app on my iPad has informed me that the UK has just recorded its first ever 40 degrees outdoors temperature. Amidst this horrific news and the fact that here in the Aire valley in Yorkshire my garden currently feels like midday in August in Andalusia, my system of mulching the raised beds and pots in my edible garden, gives me hope. Not a lot, but enough.
My infographic above includes some of the main functions of mulching soil. It’s so beneficial and over the last few days it’s capacity to keep water in the soil has been amazing to witness. I’ve been watering gardens belonging to two different friends over the last couple of weeks and the difference in watering needs between their mostly unmulched growing spaces and my own, have been huge.
I’ve been assessing the watering needs of my growing spaces at 5am and 9pm for the last week. Some of the smaller pots have needed watering each day, especially those naturally water vulnerable plants, for example courgettes and young lettuce with their shallow roots. The larger pots have been watered alternate days and the raised beds just once in the last week. In all of these containers the soil just a couple of centimetres below the mulched surface was at least damp at each check. I’ve been especially impressed with the conditions in the raised beds as these are made from the increased heat storage capacity of recycled black plastic.
I’ve used 3 different types of mulch - wood chip, partially composted homemade compost (carbon dense with pine shavings from guinea pig bedding) and plant living mulches. I haven’t been organised enough to do any controlled comparisons about the performance of each one, but in general they all seem to be fairly equally effective.
For information about much larger scale solutions focused work about the water on our planet, I can very much recommend investigative journalist, Judith D Schwartz book, ‘Water in Plain Sight’ - I wrote a review about it here
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