Well the manure problem has struck again on our site. Karen & Paul’s plot has a row of potatoes with the classic hormonal weedkiller effect of tightly curled and sickly leaves. A row of beans is yellowed and sickly, probably the same thing. Manure has been a fundamental input to vegetable plots for ever but now we’ve managed to pollute this. This suspect manure comes from stables nearby in Shavington, probably from brought in on the straw for bedding the horses.
This is going to make a fundamental difference to the way we grow. Before using manure we’re going to have to test it somehow or leave it to compost for 3 or 4 years (more?). Even testing is not simple. There’s no test available apart from growing something and even then, one spadeful of muck could be fine and the next contaminated.
What’s even worse, it’s not only manure. There are reports of it being contained in bought in composts. I’ve been a great fan of municipal compost made from green waste. It’s cheap, a great soil conditioner and really has given good results for me and others.
There is bound to be some people who have sent in green waste that contains some selective weedkiller like lawn ‘weed and feed’ but the proportion is tiny and composting breaks it down. This new stuff is different, I dread to think what would happen if it was in there.
Even if aminopyralid herbicides were banned today, this problem is going to be around for years. How many gardeners still have jars of banned chemicals in the back of the shed? Are farmers any different? Just bureaucracy stopping us from using a cheap effective product, they mutter.
Not that I think it will be banned, at least in the near future. Too much money invested in it. Think about Thalidomide – awful, terrible side effects but how long before that was banned? Nobody would claim this herbicide is on the same order of importance and I’m not even sure there is a legal framework to enable the government to do anything. After all, it complies with the present laws or it would not have been licensed for use. I wrote more on this here: Aminopyralid Herbicide Residue in Manure Killing Crops
Where do we go from here? Obviously we need to concentrate on making our own composts as the benefits of manure are not just the NPK but the organic matter. The NPK is easy enough to replace with fertilisers but making enough compost to replace a load of muck is not easy work.
Anyway – back to the plot.
Val came down with me yesterday and helped harvest a few broad beans. Just three carrier bags full from an area of 3 square yards! And there’s a lot left to come. I know it’s fashionable to eat them very young, but we like them developed. Nothing like bacon, new potato chips and broad beans in white sauce. Yummy!
I took up the rest of the first early potatoes. You can just leave them and harvest as needed but the longer they’re in, the more slug damage on our plot. Plus we’re expecting rain for the next week. The other reason is potato blight. We’ve not seen any yet this year, but this way I know we’ve got some safe clean potatoes in store. About 20kg from 15 foot of row isn’t bad.
Courgettes, where a couple had been missed and turned into marrows. You only have to blink and suddenly there’s a huge one. I’ve only got three plants but they’ll produce more than we would like to eat. I really should stick to my guns and only grow two plants.
Yet more strawberries from my strawberry barrel. That’s proven to be a great investment. Even just standing by the barrel the scent of strawberries hits you. It’s a wonderful smell.
Yet more carrots from the greenhouse. It’s incredible how many you can get from a six foot row, one foot wide. Just keep pulling them when they’re ready and leaving the seedlings to grow on.
Not just crops growing, of course. The weeds are doing well. As I write, on Saturday morning, the rain is bouncing off the ground. So I suppose everything will leap ahead again, especially the weeds.