Eighth of an Acre Bounty

Random thoughts and anecdotes on cooking, critters, gardening and life on our small city lot.

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One Straw – with Parsley

August 26th, 2009 · No Comments

Masanobu Fukuoka, in The One-Straw Revolution: An Introduction to Natural Farming describes using daikon radishes to (almost) passively aerate and amend his soil. The daikon tills deep into the ground under its own steam and when the growing top is lopped off, it composts in place – providing food for the soil critters and improving the soil condition. I think this is absolutely brilliant, and have several times contemplated doing it in some of the more challenging sections of our yard.

The opportunity presented itself the other week when I was faced with having to take out a massive number of parsley plants from one of the main beds. I had a plant go to seed late last year and this resulted in a bumper crop of parsley (almost to the detriment of anything else planted nearby). Parsley has a long taproots, much like dandelions and carrots. I decided to go ahead and take the a different approach in clearing the bed and took a small paring knife out with me to cut off the green plant material just below where the root began. This allowed me to preserve the parsley in bunches that held themselves together by the top of their root, until I could dedicate time to cleaning and bundling the harvest and it also ensured that there would be no regrowth in the areas I wanted to reseed for fall.

So far it has worked like a charm. We amended the entire bed with a thick layer of compost and seeded into that. The parsley roots are busy rotting 6 inches or so underneath the current soil level and hopefully creating nice channels of organic material in what was becoming a very sandy bed . This is a bed we had to import soil from offsite to fill after construction 3 years ago. At first it was a dreamy bed full of compost, but as the organic matter burned away we were left with an ever increasing ratio of sand. The mix was advertised to be loam, compost and sand – but I have yet to see anything remotely resembling clay. Funny after so much complaining about Skyway Clay, that what we really need is clay now. Despite my vows to not till our garden, I may end up rototilling the whole bed at some point just to get a bit of water retaining clay added to the mix.

After we pull our fall greens from this bed I plan to cover the entire bed in a deep mulch for the winter and let it rest and rot. Hopefully the focused organic material will improve the bed significantly for next year’s garden.

Tags: Gardening

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