This year is the first I have ever planted my potatoes on the traditional planting day of Good Friday! They almost got the traditional addition of comfrey leaves in the planting holeas (which would have been another first!), but in the end I decided to leave the comfrey flowering for the bees. They need food more than my spuds do, at this time of year. Although, in the end, the spuds got something better…
There are two beds of potatoes this year, with three different varieties. One bed is home to two Sárpo varieties – the blue-skinned Blue Danube and the red-skinned Mira. They’re planted into a bed that tried (and failed) to grow a winter squash last year, and which is mostly garden soil with a little bit of compost. The Pink Fir Apples got the bed that grew my Shark’s Fin Melon last year; it started off the same, but got the compost from a couple of big containers emptied onto it, so it’s a bit nicer.
The potatoes are in beds in the extra strip of garden, the one that is next to the road and accessed by the footpath. I also keep my compost heaps there. I have been filling one that’s right next to the fence, so I can fill it from the path and not have to go into the garden (the entry for which is further away from the path). The first compost bin I set up after moving here is further in to the garden; I used it for a little while and then realised one by the fence was a better bet.
That one is getting full, so it was time to harvest the first compost from my new garden, and move the empty bin next to the fence, beside the second one. It wasn’t particularly full, but I got a couple of plastic trugfuls of compost – enough to put a good layer onto the bed with the Sárpo spuds. I reckon the compost was about a year old.
I have started to fill the newly-emptied bin, and it will be the first one to be enhanced from the start with SoilFixer’s Compost Humification Agent, a biochar-based powder that “promotes and boosts the formation of the highly beneficial ‘colloidal humus’ portion of the compost from typical levels of under 5% to 10-40%”. The end result of that should be improved soil fertility and higher yields!
SoilFixer sent me a big tub of it to try, last year. Because my compost bins aren’t in the main garden, I can’t leave the tub out there with them. Since a handful or two are supposed to be thrown in every time you add to the compost, I have started keeping the tub in the kitchen. Every time I empty my food waste caddy into the compost, I add a can-ful (I’m using an empty tin of tomatoes at the moment!) of CHA to the bottom of the caddy. That routine seems to be working so far, and fortunately there’s a spot in the kitchen where the tub can sit without getting in the way.
SoilFixer have also sent me a tub of their SF60 “super” soil improver. It’s a blend of activated (enriched) biochar, colloidal humus, plant macro and micro nutrients that’s made in the UK. I need to start adding it to the raised beds as I clear crops and replant them. Fortunately this tub can live in the shed!
This blog post was written by Emma Cooper and was published on The Unconventional Gardener website. If you're reading it elsewhere you may want to navigate away from plagiarised content.