be passed the summer solstice by the
time you receive this latest
news-letter. That means we're
heading back to shorter daylight
How depressing a thought is that?
But don't panic too much, think of
it this way. Each day after the
solstice (June 21st) is equivalent
to a day before the solstice. So the
days will shorten very gradually at
the rate of just under 2 minutes per day
on average, until we get to the
winter solstice in December. Brrr -
let's move on!
The word 'Solstice' derives
from the Latin term meaning 'sun
stood still', as in the winter
and summer solstice the sun appears
to rise and set in practically the
same place. However, for us gardeners it has
other major implications!
Effect of Daylight Length on Plant
is critical to the growth and
lifecycle of a lot of plants.
Many plants use the length of the
day to judge when to flower or set
seed. Different varieties of plants
will react to day length in
different ways. That is why our
onions are geared towards a 14 hour
period, whereas varieties more
suitable for the tropics use 10
hours as a trigger. At the equator
day length is uniform around 12
Circadian cycles/ rhythms play a
part in this, but I won't go down
that road just now!
Basic to a plant’s growth is daylight.
Like a solar power processor, a plant
uses the energy from sunlight to power
its growth. Contrary to popular
terminology that's based on old beliefs,
plants don't get food via their roots
- just nutrients and water,
in fact all their food energy is
produced by photosynthesis, i.e. light -
ALL natural light on Earth comes from
the Sun. that's why plants will die if
you cover them with a black plastic sheet - regardless of whether their
roots are well established, healthy and
in good soil! Blocking out light starves
them of food & they eventually die.
Temperature, nutrient levels in the soil
and water are all important - but
without sunlight plants will not grow.
The more sunlight, the more energy is
available for the plant to power that
length is particularly important to show
growers who artificially push vegetables
to maturity for a show rather than when
they would naturally be ready.
There are also lurking problems - very
often after the solstice, (for obvious
Bolting is triggered either by cold
spells or by the changes in day
length through the seasons.
Although bolting is only seen on crops
approaching maturity, it is initiated
much earlier. Annual crops will flower
naturally in the first year, whereas
biennials do not usually flower until
the second. In annual crops, bolting
occurs before they are ready to gather
and, in biennials, when an
over-wintering organ (carrot roots for
example) flowers before the winter.
Annual crops sensitive to
photoperiod (how many hours of
daylight received) include lettuce,
some radish cultivars and spinach.
They are long-day plants, which
initiate flowers when day length
increases. It is a natural
progression for spring-sown annuals
to run to seed as summer progresses,
but this can happen prematurely
under the influence of stress or
Some biennial crops (which grow in
the first year, flower in the
second) such as onions, leeks,
carrot and beetroot can initiate
flowers in the first year. This is
due to unsettled weather conditions
early in the season and usually
occurs after a prolonged cold spell,
often during the propagation phase.
Cold nights, hot days and late
frosts may also contribute to
premature initiation of flowering.
With cold-sensitive plants,
sowings can be delayed until
temperatures are more stable. E.g.
strategy is advisable for endive and
Alternatively, for early
crops of vegetables such as
onions, beetroot and kohl rabi,
plants can be raised in modules in a
greenhouse and planted out when
temperatures are warmer, or they can
be directly sown under cloches or
horticultural fleece to provide
which are always quick to bolt in
spring, should be sown around 20
July (one week earlier in the north
and one week later in the south).
Although such crops will still run
to seed in spring, they will bolt
later than crops sown earlier, while
later-sown crops may be too small to
will also help to achieve a constant
harvestable supply if the season is
To prevent bolting in
Chinese cabbage and
other oriental brassicas,
these crops should be sown from July
Vegetables such as
radicchio, florence fennel, and
oriental greens bolt when
the nights become warm
– on average above 10-13°C
Are You All MESHED Up?
I mean that in the nicest possible
It's the annual "defence strategy to
fight against aerial attack" time
again! I'm talking "poor brassicas"
and the barrage of attacks they have
to endure. Cabbage root fly, cabbage
white butterfly & the arch villain
the rat on wings - Mr Pigeon (Wood &
Domestic) to name but a few. Not
only brassicas but the old
Umbelliferae get clobbered as well
(the carrots, parsnips, celery &
parsley etc. family to us common
folk). With them it's mostly the
dreaded "fly" that brings woe.
Much trash has been spoken in the
past - sad to say mostly by organic
gardeners unfortunately - when it
comes to pest control. "Carrot root
fly only flies up to eighteen inches
above the ground" they say -
nonsense! It may be a poor flier and
does not fly at great altitudes BUT
I've seen carrot root fly get at
plants in barrels - well above
eighteen inches. "Companion sowing
will stop carrot root fly" they say
- nonsense. Sowing your carrots next
to your onions may slightly
confuse them, but not for long. You
start thinning your carrots and
they'll home in - onions or no
All of these low level defences may
help a little, but do they work 100%
NO they don't. So don't get carried
away or disappointed. However there
IS an environmentally friendly
solution (unless you want to argue
about the process of making nylon &
the energy it uses up). Folks,
there's only one sure-fire way to
protect your crops properly and
that's to set-up a physical barrier
between your crops and the
predators. The ONLY truly effective
protection is netting and/or fleece
On this front there's good news.
Enviromesh has for a long time had a
bit of a monopoly when it comes to
the fine mesh market, consequently
it's been a bit heavy on the old
pocket. However we now have an ally
in the form of Veggiemesh. Same
stuff at a fraction of the price!
That MUST be good news. Now there's
better news for you subscribers to
our news-letter. You can order it
on-line from Garden Naturally and
get 10% discount by quoting the
codes shown below.
you would like to order any of the above
by post then you can download the
pricelist as a PDF form, which you can
print, fill in and send off by standard
download the form click on the PDF
download icon opposite.
NEWS & ROUND-UPs
number of people in Wales waiting for an
allotment has not reduced for two years,
says the National Society of Allotment
and Leisure Gardeners.
Allan Rees MBE, chairman of the
organisation, said 4,000 people were
still waiting to have an allotment.
Monday sees the start of National
June, First Minister Carwyn Jones set
out plans to ensure minimum standard for
the amount of land Welsh councils should
devote to allotments.
National Society of Allotment and
Leisure Gardeners, which has 5,000
members in Wales, argues there needs to
be more emphasis on providing
Councils have a statutory duty to
provide allotments under the provisions
of the Small Holdings and Allotments Act
Welsh Government spokesperson said: "We
are very aware of the increase in demand
for allotment plots over recent years
and know that in many parts of Wales
demand is not met by supply and that
there are vast differences in waiting
times for plots.
"That is why, to support local
communities in becoming more sustainable
and healthy, we have announced that we
will be using the Environment Bill to
legislate on the amount of land to be
used for allotments and to ensure a
minimum standard across Wales."
Rural Development Plan for Wales, helps
organisations, including farmers'
markets and city farms to set up new
schemes and manage groups of volunteers.
than 600 community garden/allotment
projects had been undertaken by the Tidy
Towns project since April 2011 using
additional funding from the Welsh
hope they keep it up!
Welsh assembly member has called for a
vacant plot of land next to the Senedd
to be turned into an allotment site for
members and staff.
Julie Morgan said a large empty site at
the side of the building would be ideal
for growing food.
Cardiff North AM Mrs Morgan asked
whether the assembly's authorities had
thought about developing the site.
said she was already growing tomatoes on
her office window sill in Cardiff Bay.
Speaking during questions in the Senedd,
she asked whether the all-party assembly
commission, which runs the estate, had
considered negotiating with the owners
of the land around the Senedd "in order
to develop food growing projects
involving staff and assembly members?"
could be done in partnership with other
organisations, including the URDD youth
movement she said.
already growing tomatoes on the
windowsill in my room, as I know are
other members, and I know the commission
wants to encourage this kind of
activity," she said.
vacant site, which faces out into
Cardiff Bay, is the size of several
tennis courts and is one of the few
areas to have remained empty since the
area was redeveloped in the 1990s.
Commission member Peter Black commended
Mrs Morgan for growing tomatoes and said
he hoped they would be offered around
the chamber at some future date.
However, he added that the issue with
regard to the plot of land was "one of
said: "There is a plot of land adjacent
to the Senedd but it is not owned by the
assembly, and I think we would have to
take a judgement as to whether we would
want our staff actually out there
tending to the vegetables as opposed to
delivering the service which members
have come to expect of them.
the member doesn't mind, I will take
that under advisement and discuss that
further rather than give any positive
response at this time."
Morgan's husband, former First Minister
Rhodri, is a grow-your-own enthusiast.
he stood down in 2009 he said he hoped
retirement would allow him more time to
spend in his allotment.
Isn't it funny how politicians like
Peter Black & many Councillors up and
down the country show support for the
"Grow your Own" movement, but when
they're expected to DO something about
it then the old NIMBY attitude raises
it's head and the excuses start flowing
you will recall that I reported in one
of our new-letters back last year that
work was on-going to complete a project
to put all of the plants & conifers
found in our country on a DNA data-base.
The work is completed -
Wales has become the first country in
the world to DNA barcode all its
scientific breakthrough opens up huge
potential for the future of plant
conservation and human health.
work to make Wales No 1 in the world was
carried out at the National Botanic
Garden in collaboration with Amgueddfa
Cymru-National Museum Wales and
project partners from various
Barcode Wales project, led by the
National Botanic Garden’s Head of
Conservation and Research Dr Natasha de
Vere, has created a reference database
of DNA barcodes based on the 1143 native
flowering plants and conifers of Wales,
assembling over 5700 DNA barcodes.
Plants can now be identified from pollen
grains, fragments of seed or roots,
wood, dung, stomach contents or
environmental samples collected from the
air, soil or water.
de Vere explained the importance of the
project: “Wales is now in the unique
position of being able to identify plant
species from materials which in the past
would have been incredibly difficult or
impossible. Through the Barcode Wales
project, we have created a powerful
platform for a broad range of research
from biodiversity conservation to human
Tim Rich said: “We have taken DNA
samples from thousands of specimens in
the National Museum’s collections. This
technique opens up a whole new set of
uses for our collections.”
barcodes are short sequences of DNA
which are unique to each species and can
be used to identify plant species from
tiny fragments of plant material. They
have a whole range of applications from
conserving rare species to developing
Welsh flora DNA barcodes are freely
available on the Barcode of Life
Database (BOLD) for use by researchers
throughout the world. The creation of
this DNA barcode library is reported in
the journal PLoS ONE.
The Key To MRSA Eradication may Lie With
student Jenny Hawkins is working on a
joint project between the Welsh National
Botanic Garden and the School of
Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at
Cardiff University to DNA barcode honey.
has collected honey from across the UK
and is testing its ability to kill
hospital acquired infections such as
MRSA. She will then DNA barcode the
honey to find out what plants bees
visited to make it.
Hawkins said: "By DNA barcoding the
honey, we are looking for links between
honey with good medicinal properties and
particular plant species.
we find it, we might be able to make a
super honey by allowing bees to forage
on plants that provide high
said: "Wales is now in the unique
position of being able to identify plant
species from materials which in the past
would have been incredibly difficult or
"Through the Barcode Wales project, we
have created a powerful platform for a
broad range of research from
biodiversity conservation to human
barcoding may be able to help in the
crisis facing pollinating insects such
as bees, according to Dr de Vere.
is working with PhD student Andrew Lucas
from the Swansea Ecology Research Team (SERT)
at Swansea University to investigate the
role hoverflies play in pollination.
Research will find out where hoverflies
go by DNA barcoding the pollen carried
on their bodies.
will tell researchers "how hoverflies
move through the landscape and the
importance of habitat quality," said Mr
Partners in the Barcode Wales project
include the National Museum Wales and
Aberystwyth and Glamorgan universities,
as well as the Botanical Society of the
British Isles, and High Performance
Computing (HPC) Wales.
our local members well know, and our
members from further afield may have
heard on the UK-wide news, we've had our
fair share of rain here in west Wales
over the last few weeks. A few thousand
of us were evacuated and many had to be
rescued - some by helicopter air-lift. Fortunately for
us (Aeron Vale Allotment Society members
in Aberaeron), the worst of the flooding
occurred a little further up the coast -
to the north of the county of
Ceredigion, that is from the town of
did NOT stop my plot getting drowned
three times in the last fortnight! The
latest episode occurring on the longest
really is a depressing sight to go down
the lottie & find most of it under
water. Three times in as many weeks I've
been confronted with that scene.
the core culprit is the unusual amount of rain we've
had, but the key problem is inadequate
storm rain management by Ceredigion
The water runs off the
slope of a nearby farm, runs along a
road, where the gullies can't cope; it
then runs down the road of the estate
behind us and straight on to our
allotment site. Because my plot is at
the lowest point it gathers there in a
We were actually in the final
stages of sorting this problem out with
the council. BUT, last October the
lunatics took over the asylum - at that
point all negotiations stopped and the
current management committee of the old
Aberaeron Allotment Association (not to
be confused with the new Aeron Vale
Allotment Society) seem at a loss what
to do next. Not surprising when you consider that the current Chair can lose one
of his boots by taking one, instead of two home with him after changing his
footwear. The type of thing that might happen to an under five in primary
Here's a slide-show of the devastation on my plot on the 21st
your curser over the photo to stop the slide-show
certainly having an effect on us at this time (click on the above
"Global Warming" heading - if you have a real interest in the subject).
Before I go further, I feel I should qualify my following comments below by
making it clear to the readers of this news-letter's that I personally am a
devout organic grower, and for many years I've been an advocate of clean,
fresh & healthy home-grown food. I recycle and compost all of our family's
household waste - including materials for construction and repair on my
plot. I'm passionate about the heath and safety of the food I grow. I don't
use ANY chemical insecticides, herbicides or inorganic fertilisers. I'm also
VERY passionate about cleaning up our act when it comes to pollution,
wild-life welfare and the way we commercially produce our food. I am NOT
however a hippy, a new age traveller or tree-hugging weirdo, with little
scientific knowledge and even less common sense, who goes around trying to
look like a native North American! I believe the Earth's climate IS
changing but that it's a natural cyclic phenomenon
warming and greenhouse gas levels fluctuating as I believe they always have.
Man DOES contribute heavily
am TOTALLY unconvinced by the apocalyptical predictions and theories of the
climate change activists, that generally believe man is solely responsible
for these changes.
still not convinced that it's all of man's fault.
Sure we contribute an amount - most creatures (and
plants - especially when they decay) do, in varying degrees. In the
overall BIG picture of things, our contribution is a gnat's wee in the
ocean. In fact the combined Methane output from all the herbivores (cows &
other grass-munchers etc. to you and me) of the earth is probably just as
big a contributor to the so-called "greenhouse effect".
Actually it's a little arrogant & conceited of us - as
humans - to take the accolade for what is nature's natural cycle of things.
A bit like some tree-hugging allotmenteers who leave weeds & sprouting
broccoli plants to flower - to help the world's eco-systems to recover and
to encourage bees! A huge contribution that, when you look at the vegetation
that's on the earth! So one flowering broccoli and a clump of nettles is
going to do the trick? Yeah - right! HARDLY - even if every human on
earth did it. Man is conceited enough to think like that though, we have
difficulty with proportionality.
Do these people actually sit down and think hard about
how big the south American rain-forests alone really are? Now I wonder
what proportion of that mass of vegetation a clump of nettles or 3 broccoli
plants in flower actually represents? Even if you multiplied that clump by 7
billion - the current population of the earth. No more so is this fuzzy
logic coming to the fore than with the argument against the use of peat in
gardens. Suffice to say that I don't think I'm the only one cursing "non
peat based composts" when my seedlings fail to appear! Now that I've got
started on that one see the heading
IS OUR USE OF PEAT DESERVING OF THE
SCORN IT ATTRACTS?
In only the last 1000 years
we've gone from ice age to a balmy warm period for a few hundred years
during the middle ages. It's often called The Medieval Warm Period (MWP)/
Medieval Climate Optimum, or Medieval Climatic Anomaly which was a time of
warm climate in the North Atlantic region, it lasted from about AD 950 to
1250. It was followed by a cooler period in the North Atlantic termed the
Little Ice Age. So after going back to a mini ice age things are now warming
up again . What we are experiencing is the cyclic nature of Mother
Earth's climate, that's CONSTANTLY changing, but with such minuscule life
spans and the past inability to monitor over a prolonged period (we've only
been doing it for a few DECADES), WE run away with the apocryphal notion
that we have destroyed our earth! Loony tunes I conclude!. These phenomena
were in existence when man's only contribution to C02 emission
was smoke from his tiny camp fire and flatulence from eating too much woolly
mammoth meat & brassicas like sprouts - as a so called "hunter-gatherer".
Right I've stepped off my soap box now -
back to the news-letter!
SPRING - "ODDER" GERMINATION RATES!
a month May was! I've lived, worked and
slept the lottie for the whole month!
NOT because I really wanted to be THAT
engrossed and obsessive, but simply
because we've had such a rubbish spring
I've had to pile March, April & May work
into 4 weeks! It's gone from winter to
summer (March) back to winter (snow in
April) & then FINALLY a cold windy "summer" in May -
who the hell cancelled our spring? The
worst bit in May was that scorching wind
again. I really get annoyed at that
sting in the tail. Just as you're ready
to harden things off they turn brown and
shrivel up in the sun and chilly wind.
It doesn't help being located by the sea
- those scorchers blow in straight off
the Atlantic and across Ceredigion Bay
then straight across my allotment! Added
to the natural problems is the fact that
I'm only running on three cylinders
because of my general health these days, so
the work gets done at a much slower rate
than in the past. Even though I'm
working a lot slower, I get a lot
more tired, so I've not had time to do
anything meaningful - apart from my
allotment for the whole month!
year has been a total disaster, not just
for me, but a lot of the other allotment
growers on our site that have
experienced the same problems. Seeds
refusing to germinate, others dying off
after germinating, some growing weakly -
just not a very good season I fear! Add
to that 3 record level June floods over a
fortnight and it's quite a recipe for
rule - peas are usually grown by little
children in school, with simple success.
Me - a supposed veteran vegetable
gardener with nearly 40 years experience
nearly gave up on them this year! First
the mouse (now deceased) dispatched four
trays full, with 20 peas in each tray.
Only ONE pea got away, it's now quietly
growing on it's own by the fence that
should be holding up around a hundred of
it's brothers & sisters. The
next batch just rotted in the compost on
the poly-tunnel staging, as did the
third batch! I'm now in the humiliating
position of having to make do with
other's left overs! Although by now I
have put rows in directly into the soil
- fingers crossed! Many of the melon,
pumpkin, courgette and cucumber seeds
have done the same - just rotted in
their pots before germinating.
IS OUR USE OF PEAT DESERVING OF THE
SCORN IT ATTRACTS?
used Levington compost for years, it was
a family run business that you could
rely on. Good products and usually fair
prices. It was named after a pretty
little village in Suffolk. But from now
on Mr Levington has off-loaded his last
bag on to me! He can stuff his compost
where the sun doesn't shine!
should elaborate on that, in fact it's
NOT Mr Levington's fault - he & his
family, after many years of establishing
& running the company no longer own it.
It was taken over by
COMPANY (UK) LIMITED
muck and make big profits" company
from the US (echoes of the Cadbury/
Kraft takeover smell here? Apparently
Kraft now use milk from Poland - not UK
farmers' milk - for their "Cadbury's"
chocolate and it's so dirty it blocks
the filters in their factory!) Anyway
that's another story!
In February of
Israel Chemicals Ltd. (ICL)
took over The
Scott Company's FERTILISERS division. ICL
has quite a reputation itself! It
seems Scotts (makers of Miracle Gro)
still supply the compost under the
banner of Everris. And it gets more
complex by the minute. The top and
bottom of it is - when you buy
Levington's today, it's NOT the
guaranteed product it used to be in the
"non-peat" rubbish has appeared since the big
debate about organic/ inorganic material
from the anti peat use brigade came to
the fore. I notice the Levington bags
say the content holds 25% more water and
has a tick next to "Low Peat" content,
it also says "organic non-peat"
material added to it. What exactly
is that supposed to mean?
purchased more bags of compost - first
from Aldi (in desperation) and then from
Brondesbury Park Garden Centre, in
Surprise, surprise both offerings are
peat based & fantastic stuff. It puts the Levington
trash that I bought to shame. I say
"trash" because a pattern is emerging
here. Nearly all the other gardeners
that have had bad germination results on
our allotment site have used exactly the
same compost. It was on offer at our
local Farmers Co-operative Country Store
(210 Litres for £11.99). Jack's Magic is
approximately 1.5p/ litre more - but
worth every farthing of the extra!
have now settled for Westland's "Jack's
Magic" supplied by one of our web-site
sponsors - CJ Industries (Brondesbury
Park Garden Centre, Aberteifi).
This fantastic "old fashioned" peat
based stuff that Neil sells is top
drawer - it behaves and feels like
proper peat compost should, it has no
ADDED NASTIES that may contain anything
that's compostable - including plant
growth inhibitors, weed-killers on grass
clippings, herbicides sprayed on plants
that are then thrown in the council's
"green" bags and anything else
their way to a composting plant.
Amazingly, it's this very rubbish
produced from "green waste" that the
Tree Hugging ignoramuses hoot on about
as being "organic" and planet saving! In
reality peat - a natural, clean and totally
organic product is being
demonised in favour of stuff that is
sometimes lethal to our plants and
probably isn't good for us either. Have
you wondered why it says "Gloves should
be worn when handling the contents" on
the bags of non peat (alternative)
composts? My advice is stay well clear
of ANYTHING that is sold as "Peat Free"
or "Low Peat" content. Use what was
created naturally for the job and IS
efficiently renewable when harvested
sensibly. See the heading
"Peat and the Environment in Scandinavia"
Rule of thumb: "IF MAN
MADE IT DON'T EAT IT!"
(or anything that grows in it!)
whilst we're on this fascinating subject
I've done some more research and I've
documented my findings below. You'll be
GOB-SMACKED (as my Scouser wife would
say!). It also makes you blush a bit as
you realise how gullible we - the
general public - really are. In fact
we're almost as gullible as our
politicians! Most of them have gone from
posh school, to posh college and then
the House of Commons, without spending 5
minutes out in the real world getting
life experiences and cultivating a bit
of common sense! Easy meat for any
READ ON . . . .
Gardening Which? magazine have brought
out a critical report on peat free
potting compost. Each year they trial 20
plus bags of compost and peat compost
always come out best. Not surprising, as
peat is an ideal growing medium for most
In line with UK government advice,
many "good" horticultural supply
run a reduced peat-use policy for their nursery stock production - because they
have to be seen to be politically
correct in the running of their business. Following extensive trials,
it now appears that about 40% peat is
currently used as a planting medium.
Peat: what is so good about it?
It has a low pH ideal for Ericaceous plants. Indeed most of the world's
Ericaceous plants have evolved to grow on and in peat.
Peat's high water and air holding capacities which mean that it can
retain and subsequently provide moisture and air to the roots of plants.
It holds added nutrients available for plant growth as required.
It is an easy material to handle.
It is normally free of pathogens.
It is the best component available for commercial container production
it is freely available with vast reserves all over Scotland, Ireland and
The Peat Debate: how on earth did we get there?
I believes that the environmental pressure on reduction of peat use by the
horticultural industry is valid in protecting lowland UK peat bogs as few such
habitats still exist. The campaign, began in the 1908s by David Bellamy, was
successful in protecting many remaining lowland peat habitats. David Bellamy
has been asked about the way the peat debate has evolved. He is frankly
appalled at the current attempts to ban peat use and completely opposes this.
worthwhile protection of these lowland peat bogs has lead, almost completely
without justification, to a national campaign casting peat use as 'sinful' or
morally wrong. There are several arguments put forward to justify the enforced
reduction in use of peat but most of these are dubious at best and often
1. The main claim levelled is that peat
is a 'non-renewable' like oil.
is simply not true. If carefully harvested
from live peat bogs, peat is a fully
renewable resource. Anyone can see this
for themselves in countries such as
Sweden. Here peat is grown and harvested
rather like tree plantations. Scientists
have estimated that the annual growth in
peat far exceeds the amount that is
extracted each year, so it is in essence
a completely renewable resource.
2. It is claimed is that
the world is somehow
running short of peat. The area from Norway to Siberia is,
rather simply put, the world's largest peat bog. A fraction of 1% of the
reserves have probably been extracted. On a global scale peat-land is not rare
nor threatened, the earth is known to generate around 600 million cubic metres
per year but only a maximum 200 million cubic metres is extracted each year. So
unlike coal or oil, the amount is increasing year on year. Most of the land
where the peat is, has little or no alternative use. Compared to farming,
fishing, golf courses, or any other major land-use, peat production which is
carefully managed, is a sound, sustainable and 'green' activity. Looking at
Scotland for example, around 50% of the land is peat covered.
The threat to rare ecosystems,
such as UK. lowland peat-land habitats. In the UK peat-land is not threatened,
peat producers have already agreed not to seek or to extract from areas with
a conservation value. Peat Extraction for Horticulture is NOT the main cause
of damage to the UK peat lands. In fact, since 1960 only just over 500
hectares have been introduced for peat production whereas 95,000 hectares
have been lost to forestry. The peat-lands of Great Britain cover an area of
some 17 500 km2, most in north and west. Scotland has c. 68%, England 23%
and Wales 9%. There are about 1 700 km2 of peat-land in Northern Ireland,
mostly located in the western half of the province.
In Great Britain, commercialised peat extraction takes place on only some
5 400 ha (equivalent to about 0.3% of total peat-land). Almost all peat
industry output is for the horticultural market; there is however still
quite extensive (but unquantified) use of peat as a domestic fuel in the
rural parts of Scotland and Northern Ireland.
4. Carbon Sink. Peat bogs soak
up carbon dioxide. So does farmland. It is claimed that if we harvest peat
this CO2 will be lost. But in fact this is not the case. Peat lands used for
extracting peat can be quite easily restored. Draining the peat bogs can be
reversed. The Department of the Environment, Peat Producers Association and
many other conservation bodies are all working together to restore the peat
lands back to nature. The carbon sink impact of peat extraction is
negligible if the land is correctly managed. This is simply a matter of
legislation. 'Temporal studies of peat-lands reveal that they may act as CO2
sinks in some years and sources in others, depending on climate. Emissions
of CH4 and N2O are similarly variable in space and time.' From 'peat-lands
and Climate change'. Every time a farmer ploughs
a field CO2 is lost into the atmosphere. But we don't seem to be advocating
the banning of ploughing.
The UK's Unilateral Approach
European Country has taken the steps that the UK Government are advocating.
There is clearly no perceived problem in the rest of Europe using peat for
horticulture. I have contacted nursery associations in
Holland, France, Germany, Scandinavia and Italy and all are perfectly free to
use peat in horticulture. This means that UK producers
are going to be unfairly penalised if Dutch and German growers are allowed to
carry on using peat in their container production. U.K. Governments dont appear
to be proposing the banning of importation of plants grown in peat, which is the
only fair way to proceed if they wont allow UK producers to grow in peat.
come the UK alone has a fully fledged anti-peat lobby which has chosen to use
all sorts of rather underhand propaganda to further its aims. Very few of its
arguments stand up to scrutiny. It might come as a surprise to learn that
horticulture accounts for only about 2% of peat use. Most peat is burned for
fuel. World-wide it may be that as little as 0.1% of the world's peat is being
used in horticulture. But UK environmentalists are unfairly pinning everything
Is the Proposed Peat
ban legal Under EC law?
To find out a letter was sent to Ian Hudghton MEP
(the MEP with responsibility for EC Trade). He contacted the European
Commission. A reply was received from Antoni Tajani,
President of the European Commission.
In the letter Mr Tajani
states: ‘In general, the Commission
supports national measures aiming at environmental protection. . . . However national measures
restricting the use of a given product could constitute an obstacle to
intra-EU trade. In order to avoid such obstacles, directive 98/34/EC2
establishes a control mechanism by which member states planning to adopt
technical regulations are obliged to notify them at the draft stage to the
Commission, which informs other member states and stakeholders. This allows
the Commission, the other member states and economic operators to analyse the
planned legislation and its compatibility with EC law. So far the Commission
has not received formal notification of any such proposal from the UK
So for the time being, it
seems that the UK Government maybe in contravention of EC trade legislation.
5 Deliberate or Ignorant
peat use lobby seems happy to publish information which is simply not accurate
it is then copied, or miscopied by garden writers perpetuating the false
information. For example Joe Hashman's otherwise useful book Pocket Guide to
the Edible Garden states:
'During the latter part of the 20th century 94% of British peat lands were
destroyed by the horticulture industry.' His source for this is a Friends
of the Earth claim that ‘less than six per cent of Britain's original
lowland raised peat bog habitat remains in a near natural condition’.
of the Earth statistics refer to lowland peat bogs only. Most peat in the UK is
in highland peat bogs. And most of the lowland peat bogs were destroyed by
draining them for farmland and forestry and not for horticulture. Joe Hashman
has apologised for this error. But it won't stop this information being
Best way Forward for peat use in horticulture
Despite some rather foolish targets for the reduction of peat use in
horticulture, only about 4% of UK retail sales are for peat alternatives.
Peat-based multi-purpose compost sales have remained pretty static.
The UN Intergovernmental Panel on
Climate Change has changed the
classification of peat from a 'fossil
fuel' to a 'renewable biomass resource'
in recognition that peat can indeed by
harvested and cultivated sustainably.
I personally believe that
sustainable peat production for horticulture is fully justifiable and the
anti-peat lobby are guilty of exaggeration and misinformation. Particularly in
propagation, there is no substitute for peat. And many of the alternatives, such
as coir, are have very unsound environmental credentials: this
is 3rd world organic matter which should be used by local farmers, not shipped
expensively round the world, in order to assuage middle class guilt. Dont fall
for it, it really is not sound 'green' sense.
Are peat free composts any good?
The dilemma for
the gardener is that peat based composts are significantly better than peat free
composts for sowing seeds and potting on young plants. Time after time trials
reveal this to be true.
reported that composts with at least 50% peat were far better than peat
free composts in 2010.
Which compost trials
Garden trials in 2010 growing potatoes in containers found poor results
with peat free composts compared to composts containing at least 50%
peat. (Search the fact-sheets on their website for the results)
The RHS trials published in January 2011 showed the poor results germinating
seedlings and potting on young plants most peat alternatives, including loam,
wood fibre and coir particularly for plants with very small seeds.
composts tend to be inconsistent, unstable and often require the addition of
extra food and trace elements and many gardeners have complained to me of the
poor results with peat free composts. Coir, often used as a replacement for peat
is shipped from Sri Lanka which cannot be good for the environment!
Jumping on the bandwagon
RHS, National Trust and other influential organisations, as well as TV
presenters such as Monty Don should have a little more courage than simply to
jump on this spurious bandwagon: instead they should appraise themselves of the
facts and have the courage to portray both sides of the argument. Rather than
condemn peat they should explain the facts and defend the sustainable and
sensible use of peat. At the moment the only reduction in peat seems to be in sales
of bags marked 'peat'. If the bag says 'multipurpose compost' or 'ericaceous
compost' it sells as well as ever. What do such bags contain? At least 90% peat
of course. Many well informed gardeners
and writers such as Peter Seabrook and the best selling author Dr Hessayon
(author of the 'Expert' series) take a pragmatic view. Dr Hessayon writes: 'don't
use peat as for overall soil improvement- it is not efficient and garden compost
and manure will do a much better job. However moss peat has a role to play in
planting and seed composts where there are no substitutes of equal merit' (The
Bedside Book of the Garden)
Peat and the Environment in Scandinavia
peat-lands and Swedish
peat constitute a natural resource that renews itself through steady and
relentless plant growth. The peat industry's extraction of peat, 4-5 million
cubic meters per year, is barely a quarter of a year's growth. Between one and
two thousandth of the peat-covered ground is made use of for the present.
Additionally, thanks to the fact that new drainage has practically stopped in
agriculture and forestry operations, it is now highly likely that the total area
of peat grounds is also increasing in size.
Before a peat extraction
operation can be approved in Sweden, the county administration or alternatively
the environmental protection agency, perform a careful examination of the site.
This is done to evaluate the proposed operation's impact on the area with
regards to public benefit as well as the environmental effects. The operations
that are finally approved will have been judged suitable and not in conflict
with legitimate preservation interests. In addition, extensive rules apply to
Torvproducentföreningen Torsgatan 12, 111 23 Stockholm, Tel 08-441 70 73, Fax
08-441 70 89
for further information on Scandinavian peat.
From the CHA website:
Peter Seabrook has attacked
the RHS for its latest edict, a ban on the use of peat at its shows. He writes
'Who is it wandering the corridors at Vincent Square that sees fit to act as our
universal conscience'. He discusses the poverty in Lithuania where peat is one
of the few natural resources, and a renewable resource. Seabrook also attacked
Kew and the National Trust 'whose money-wasting exercise marketing peat-free
compost was a scandal' (Hort Week 6th Jan). Commenting on the sale of peat-free
plants, Follyfield Nurseries’ joint owner Fred Chapman said ‘Not just bodies
like the National Trust but sheds and supermarkets are pushing these plants as a
sales gimmick’ (Hort Week 20th Jan). Alan Shaw, of the Growing Media
Association, said that he welcomed initiatives from large organisations like the
National Trust and RSPB that help to expand the UK gardening market. He wrote:
‘The fact that they are peat free is in reality of lesser importance. Most
manufacturers of growing media have offered peat free options for some time now
and peat free plants can fill a valid niche market’. ‘The trend in the mass
market, however, is towards gradual peat reduction’ (Grower 20th Jan). An
increasing number of growers are disputing the criticalness of the peat shortage
(Hort Week 27th Jan).
Are peat reduction
targets of 90% achievable or desireable?
The Government’s Peat Working
Group initiated the search for suitable materials and this was recognised by
re-naming the group in 2005 as the Horticultural Growing Media Forum (HGMF),
whose focus was on delivering the peat reduction targets. Some parts of the
industry have made significant progress, with the three large national retailers
all achieving 50% peat replacement in their bagged product ranges. Partial
dilution is becoming the norm for previously all-peat products and several
manufacturers have now invested in wood fibre production plants and/or green
composting facilities. Unfortunately in the UK, even with the HGMF in place,
conflicts of interests, technical problems, increasing costs, reluctance and
apathy have all contributed to slow progress towards achieving the 90% target
Mires and Peat, Volume 3
(2008), Article 08, http://www.mires-and-peat.net/, ISSN 1819-754X
Experts pour scorn on Defra peat research for failing to
reach meaningful conclusion by Matthew Appleby Horticulture Week 30
Growing-media experts have questioned Defra's
latest peat research on the carbon footprint of growing media.
The report, from University of Warwick HRI scientist Dr
Rob Lillywhite, dismisses greenhouse gas emissions as a reason for
reducing peat use, preferring the existing drivers of non-renewability
and potential as a carbon sink. It states: "In terms of total
greenhouse gas emissions, the life cycle assessment approach supports
the use of UK and Irish peat, and coir as growing media material.
"However, if the carbon neutrality of short-term materials and potential
sequestration is taken into account, then the opposite is true and
compost, timber products and coir are the preferred materials. These
opposing conclusions suggest that further policy work is required." It
concludes: "The major driver for reduced peat use should remain its
'non-renewability' and potential for long-term carbon storage rather
than its emissions of greenhouse gases." The report highlights difficulties in assessing greenhouse
gas emissions of organic materials because of a lack of data and confusion
over whether to use weight or volume reporting units. It uses weight, which
gives peat a poorer rating. The industry uses volume. Growing Media
Association (GMA) manager Tim Briercliffe said: "The GMA was included in the
steering group for this project but expressed its concerns about the
methodology and assumptions made throughout the process. The project was
overambitious and set out to collate published information that
unfortunately never really existed. "The report acknowledges that frankly
the project was unable to reach meaningful conclusions and the GMA would
urge readers to approach it with caution. This work set out to understand
important questions that the industry had raised. Unfortunately, we do not
believe that this report enlightens the debate." Former GMA chair Jamie
Robinson added: "Like so much of the CO2 debate, there are a lot of
questions on the methodology used and the conclusions are ambiguous - you
can basically choose your outcome. I don't think that it takes the peat
reduction debate any further forward." But Vital Earth managing director
Steve Harper said: "I think you need to take offsetting into consideration.
Ultimately, if peat is undisturbed it is a carbon sink. If dug, it creates a
footprint. If you can divert green and food waste from landfill, you reduce
its impact on the planet (by not creating methane) and reduce waste and
create a truly sustainable product."
A Defra representative said: "The research indicates that
alternatives to peat are likely to have similar or lower greenhouse gas
emissions associated with their production compared to peat - although the
report does not consider specific products on the market, which are usually
a blend of different materials. "We are considering the development of a
future policy to further reduce the horticultural use of peat. All evidence,
including this newly published research, will feed into the development of
the policy." - The final report is available from www.defra.gov.uk
Comparing C02 emissions for peat to other growing
UK peat greenhouse gas emissions (CO2)
Extraction & harvest 36kg
End of life 543kg
Carbon storage -136kg
Now compare that
figure with these:
Total CO2 emissions from other growing media
Green compost 12-93kg
Wood fibre -56-145kg
DEFRA PUBLICATION Consultation findings June 2011
This includes the following milestones:
a progressive phase-out target of 2015 for
government and the public sector on direct procurement of peat in new contracts
a voluntary phase-out target of 2020 for amateur
· a final voluntary phase-out target of 2030 for
professional growers of fruit, vegetables and plants;
we will establish a Task Force bringing together
representatives from across the supply chain with a clear remit to advise on how
best to overcome the barriers to reducing peat use, exploring all the available
measures to achieve this goal;
building on the advice of the Task Force, we will
review progress towards these targets before the end of this spending period and
consider the potential for alternative policy measures if necessary.
The taskforce will be chaired by Dr.
Alan Knight OBE and will include representatives from retailers, growing media
manufacturers, growers and environmental organisations. It will have a clear
remit to foster a partnership approach focussing on identifying and addressing
supply chain issues, exploring all available measures to deliver our ambition
and determining the criteria against which the policy will be reviewed. Peat is cheap, readily available and of consistent
quality, and any alternative has to compete with these factors. The taskforce
will produce a comprehensive and detailed roadmap to address barriers in
relation to both the supply and demand of peat alternatives, with the aim of
reforming once and for all a supply chain focussed around peat.
How to use
As we're on the subject of sowing,
growing and success in doing so (from a
peat based compost point of view!) I
think it would be a good idea to tie the
previous article in to the use of
Ideally, in the early part of the year,
we should all take a
sample of each of our growing beds (or
rotation areas)and analyse it. Based
on the results of this analysis you can then
decide which fertilisers or alkaline/
acid balancing compound to apply before
planting. The idea is - to begin with - to ensure that
each crop has an adequate, but not
excessive supply of the three major
plant foods . Also each
plant should be growing in a soil that
is pH friendly for it.
If you have a proper crop rotation plan,
then the nutrient levels should more or
less balance out over a full crop
rotation period (minimum - three years).
In nearly all cases, I personally use a balanced
organic fertiliser such as fish,
blood and bone. The exception would be
if any bed already has a very high level
of one of the plant foods, in which case
I might choose fertilisers which do not
contain this food because an excess of a
particular element, does more harm than
Nitrogen is rarely in excess because it
is easily leached out of the soil by
winter rain. To replenish it then
pelleted chicken manure is the answer -
in fact nothing misses a little treat of
chicken poo - but a word of warning - it
is potent. So it should never
come into direct physical contact with
plants (it can easily scorch them -
especially when wet). Rake it into the
soil or just sprinkle it a little way
from the plants (suffice to say I don't
mean half a mile away). Now with the
depletion of Nitrogen either of the other two
)potash/ phosphate) could build up. If potash is in excess,
the answer is probably fish meal.
If phosphate is in excess, however, the
solution is usually a combination of two
straight fertilisers, like sulphate of
ammonia and sulphate of potash. I should
add that I am not totally organic, but
always prefer organic fertilisers if
there is a choice. The only other time I
use synthetic fertiliser is for my
flowers and hanging baskets. I don't eat
flowers and the soil they get grown in
for temporary short term use.
Fertilisers for particular crops should
be applied once the crop is growing,
usually in liquid form, or easily
Onions and leeks are given high nitrogen
fertiliser during the growing stage,
que Chicken Poo!, In
the case of onions, one with a higher
potash content later on to ripen the
bulbs - liquid comfrey leaf fertiliser
is perfect for them.
Leafy crops such as cabbages need high
nitrogen feeds all along their
cycle. yes that's right - chicken
said earlier that root crops require
phosphate. I have never found, however,
that they need extra doses while
growing. There is enough in the ground
to begin with, I do not feed these crops
much, but if I do, a general organic fertiliser
I hope you
understand the use of fertilisers a bit
more after reading this article. By the
way, do not be worried if you have not
got facilities for soil testing, there's
usually someone close by who can help
out. If you
are keen, you can send it away for
analysis to one of the firms you see
advertised on-line or in gardening
magazines. If you don't want to go to
this trouble and expense, you can't go
far wrong with a base dressing of fish, blood and bone
(or Growmore or if you are not fussy
about using synthetic fertilisers) and
then follow the other steps which I have
Did You Know?
Growmore, probably the most popular
synthetic compound fertiliser, was first
formulated as part of the "Dig For
Victory" campaign in the Second World
War - hence its full name "National
In 2012 - unlike in the forties - I
would hope that we gardeners are a bit
more enlightened about the disadvantages
of using inorganic fertilisers over a
long term, as the soil eventually
becomes impoverished, and there are
serious health issues raised from our
intake of chemicals through the food we
eat. Synthetic, inorganic fertilisers
are basically a quick fix - something
that was obviously needed during the Dig
for Victory campaign. Long term they
have a negative impact.
Wilted comfrey leaves are an excellent
source of organic potash. Use them
around soft fruit or when planting
potatoes. Or add them to the compost
heap at any time. Cultivated strains are
available but don't despise the wild
plant which grows beside ditches on many
Some questions you
may be asking:
What are organic
How does using synthetic
FERTILISER affect food production and the environment?
Is it true that chemical
FERTILISERS can really be harmful to the body?
What is organic
and how does it differ from the non organic?
and safer to use on crops?
What is soil pH?
How do I know if I need
FERTILISER or lime?
What effect does using lime
have on my soil and my crops?
Here is a basic outline that
should answer the above questions for you.
are made from synthetic, manufactured chemicals, and organic
FERTILISERS are made from naturally occurring organic material.
However, this is a bit of an over-simplification, and sometimes the
line between organic and inorganic FERTILISER can get a bit blurry.
For example, naturally occurring minerals such as limestone,
saltpetre, and mine rock phosphate, although technically inorganic
(they come from rocks, after all), have been used as FERTILISERS for
centuries and are just as safe as organic FERTILISERS.
FERTILISERS are generally
created as other organic material that rots and decays. As plant and
animal matter rots, the organic material breaks down into its
component water and minerals. The resulting biomass is very high in
The very simple example of
organic composition is compost. Compost is from organic wastes of
natural living things such as animal manure, plants, leaves and
fruit and vegetable waste. Many gardeners and and
allotmenteers prefer to use animal manure, aside from different
plants and leaves, as FERTILISERS for longer period of time
because of its proven nutrient contents.
INORGANIC CHEMICAL FERTILISERS
contain synthesized chemicals that do not occur naturally in nature,
and thus can become harmful. The introduction of such chemicals, if
used extensively over time, can throw off the local environment and
Chemicals used as
will extensively affect everything and everyone. This happens
because when it rains and the chemicals are washing into the soil.
As the rainwater flows through the varied bodies of water, more and
more living things in and out of the water are affected. The
chemicals will also reach the groundwater, which is where drinking
water comes from.
The worst thing about the
synthetic FERTILISERS is the extent of chemicals on the crops and
produces. When produce is grown with synthetic FERTILISERS, the
produce will contain the chemicals in its flesh and once it is
consumed by people, the chemicals can then enter and harm their
bodies. Eating synthetically grown produces over a period of time
can cause major health issues.
WHAT MAKES ORGANIC
introduced and used by growers into the local environment the materials
are naturally occurring plant and animal matter and they do not have
the negative affect on the environment found with inorganic
When it comes to crop growth,
organic FERTILISERS are good in encouraging growth. It take
more organic FERTILISER to do the job of a lesser amount of
inorganic, however with organic FERTILISER the soil absorbs the nutrients and
essential substances more slowly thereby turning out rich crops that
are far better than the crops from gardens that use synthetic
FERTILISERS. As the soil continuously becomes enriched from the use
of organic FERTILISERS, the growth cycle of crops yielded increases
every harvest season.
to a 32- year study performed in Sweden, the best thing about
organic FERTILISER is that it increased the yield rate of crops by
15%. The inorganic FERTILISER only produced a 50% yield rate
compared to the organic producing a phenomenal 65% yield rate.
It is hoped that the above has answered
some of your questions about organic FERTILISERS, and it’s uses in
Below explains how the soil pH
and the use of lime are also intricate parts of the successful
The pH (not PH) scale is used to
measure the acidity or alkalinity of an aqueous solution and is
determined by the hydrogen ion content (H+). This scale
was invented by a Danish scientist called Sorenson in 1909. The
letters pH stand for “Power of Hydrogen” and is a measure of the
molar concentration of hydrogen ions in the solution and as such is
a measure of acidity (that's just for the chemistry anoraks!)
For us non-chemists and gardeners the scale generally runs from 4.00, which is highly acid
in soil terms, through 7.00 which is neutral to 8.00 which is
To put this in perspective. The
pH scale ranges from 0, which is strongly acid, to 14 which is
strongly alkaline, the scale point 7 being neutral. Examples of
solutions with differing pH values include car battery acid (pH 1),
lemon juice (pH 2), beer (pH 4), natural rain (pH 5-6), milk (pH 6),
washing-up liquid (pH 7), seawater (pH 8), milk of magnesia (pH 10)
and ammonia (pH 12). The pH scale is logarithmic rather than linear,
and so there is a ten fold increase in acidity with each pH unit,
so, e.g. rainfall with pH 5 is ten times more acidic than pH 6,
rainfall with pH 4 is 100 times more acidic than pH 6 and rainfall
with pH 3 is 1000 times more acidic than pH 6.
To LOWER soil acidity
we need to RAISE the pH value and vice versa
Keeping it simple, if your soil
is too acid then nutrients will not be available to the plants even
if they are present. To LOWER soil acidity we need to RAISE the pH
value and vice versa.
Different plants require
different levels of acidity – hence we have ericaceous composts for
acid loving plants. Most vegetables thrive when the soil is slightly
acid i.e. a pH level between 6.5 and 7, Potatoes tend to prefer a
lower pH, more acid soil (they are classified as "lime haters"), and Brassicas prefer a slightly alkaline
soil, pH of 7.0 or even slightly higher. That's why it is suggested
to lime in the autumn after potatoes and to follow with Brassicas
who like the high ph. Legumes (peas beans etc.) should be grown in
between in a good crop rotation schedule.
Measuring Soil Acidity (pH
You can buy various types of soil
kits. Often you mix a soil sample with water then compare a colour
change to a chart (see our video tutorial on soil testing), however
this is rather tedious as you need to take more than
a couple of samples. Cheap electronic testers are now available
(often for as little as £5.00), which is much easier. You simply
switch the pH meter on and insert two prongs into the earth you're
testing and then wait approximately 1 minute for the reading to
settle, which you then read on a scale of 4 - 8 on the meter's face
(depending on your instrument).
Whichever kit you use, it will
come with instructions and will give you a reading. Never make a
judgement on the basis of just one test. You may have hit a spot
particularly high or low pH. Take samples or test from a number of
spots and work out an average reading (add up the results and divide
by the number of tests done) this will give you a much better general view of your
soil’s acidity level.
The acidity of the
soil has a huge effect on fertility because the acidity of soil
controls how available nutrients are to your crops.
Clay soils are also harder to work the more acid they are for some
complicated chemical reason.
Different soil types will behave
differently so one vital tool for the serious gardener is a tester
for acidity levels. You can also judge the acidity of the soil by
the types of weeds that grow and their behaviour.
buttercup, nettle, dock and mare’s tail are all signs your soil is
becoming or is too acid. Reducing soil acidity will help deter some
weeds – they were designed for acid soils unlike our edible garden
crops that prefer something a little more alkaline.
Changing the acidity
level of the soil
To raise the pH and lower
acidity or "sweeten" the soil, we add lime. To lower pH and
increase acidity you can add sulphate of ammonia or urea which are
high nitrogen FERTILISERS.
From this you can see that adding
manure will also lower pH and make the soil more acidic.
It’s counter to what you expect,
but adding loads of manure year after year will actually reduce soil
fertility by making it too acidic so the plants cannot access the
nutrients. They become locked up. So we need to balance that with
the use of lime
Do you need to lime and
how much to lime?
If the soil is not of a
chalky nature it will tend to become acidic as the Calcium is
leached out. When it becomes acidic (sour) with too low a pH level
it will require lime to increase the pH level to make it more
Never Mix Lime and FERTILISER
Mixing acid and alkaline
chemicals produces unpleasant reactions e.g. bi-carbonate of soda
and fizzy drinks or urine in a toilet with bleach in it - you
will have noticed there is an unpleasant reaction. Just the same, if
you mix your lime and FERTILISER. They will at best cancel each
other out in an undesirable reaction in the soil.
So never lime in the same year as you
Clay soils tend to become acid
more quickly than sandy soils and the amount of organic matter has
an effect as well. Clay soils can also be slow to react to the
addition of lime.
Types of Lime
Agricultural Lime or
Agricultural Lime or Garden Lime
is made from pulverized limestone or chalk. As well as raising the
pH it will provide calcium for the crops and trace nutrients. Some
recent experiments are indicating our soils may well benefit from
the addition of rock dust, adding trace nutrients to the soil.
Dolomite lime is similar to
garden lime but contains a higher percentage of magnesium.
Quicklime and Slaked
Quicklime is produced by burning
rock limestone in kilns. It is highly caustic and cannot be applied
directly to the soil. Quicklime reacts with water to produce slaked,
or hydrated, lime, thus quicklime is spread around the land in heaps
to absorb rain and form slaked lime, which is then spread on the
soil. Their use is prohibited by the organic standards and while
fast acting, the effect is short lived in comparison to garden lime.
Recommended Amounts of Lime to Use
Below is a rough guide to how
much lime to use to achieve the desired pH level of your growing
medium (soil). The amounts needed are also dependant on which
predominant soil type you have in your garden or allotment plot.
Ideally you should test the pH of the soil before adding lime and
then take a second reading in the same locations after the lime has
had sufficient time to act (approximately a month or two - depending
on the weather and the amount of rainfall after the application).
pH of soil