The Answer Lies in the Soil
This paper will examine the Forest Garden at Garden Cottage, Coldstream, Scotland and how it is possible to grow one metric tonne of food on .1 of a hectare (one fifth of an acre) as well as harvesting all our firewood needs, gathering half our other energy needs and running a plant nursery. It will use the twenty five year development of the site to illustrate this astonishing level of productivity from less than two days a week work.
I will touch on:
What is soil?
Why does it matter?
Some historical examples of what happens when you manage soils well and badly.
History of soil science Liebig and the Big Lie NPK i.e. macronutrients don’t say it all.
Mineral content - pore space (air /water) – humus (compost).
Soil life - Darwin / earthworms, Stammets /Fungi, Invertebrates, Bacteria.
To till or not to till.
Soil as energy management – how much can we create closed loop systems for nutrients water waste. Eliminating external inputs as much as possible.
The rhizosphere- Trees as energy exchangers, nematodes, etc.
Permaculture approaches – mulching, polyculture, succession, importance of weeds, and wildlife.
Research – how do we know what we are doing is working and its value as establishing the garden as a teaching tool.
Results from collaboration with research partners e.g. Edinburgh University Plant Sciences.