Two years ago, when I made the raised bed, there wasn’t enough soil left from what was excavated to make the pond to fill it to the top. I’d not been making much compost at this time and was trying to operate a closed loop, whereby all garden inputs were created within my property. I can’t in all honesty remember the rationale for this, except that it had something to do with reducing carbon emissions.
Unfortunately, with my soil getting tireder and tireder, there wasn’t much carbon left in it. And without carbon, there isn’t much life. So, having bought my Green Johanna and started to collect horse manure from a local stables, there is now a healthy supply of homemade compost. In addition, I have stacks of newspaper from my neighbour across the road.
So, this afternoon, my first action was to put down a thick layer of the paper round the two somewhat spindly PSB plants, which have now been staked. Then five bucketfuls of compost from the finishing off bin were loaded on top of this.
I had been concerned in case the layer of newspapers prevented rainwater from getting to the soil around the roots of the PSB. However, there is already plenty of moisture which is unlikely to evaporate in the current temperatures (not much above freezing); and once this issue starts to matter, the newspapers will have started to decompose. In turn, worms will hopefully have started to incorporate the paper into the soil and thus increase its water-holding capacity.
Of course, theory and practice are different from each other but I am excited to see how the soil improvements pan out. In the short term, if the purple sprouting broccoli fails to thrive, it’s not the end of world. Then the pumpkins I intended to plant in the spring should at least have a more fertile and water retentive medium to grow in.