This summer I have become more convinced that depth of soil is a super important factor in determining how well plants grow. This is mainly due to observation of plants in deeper beds performing better than those in shallower soil. I have also noticed that some plants that have been placed, of necessity, in shady conditions (there was nowhere else to put them) have done at least as well, and in some cases better than the same plant in a sunny spot. This is possibly because we have had a lot of uncharacteristic hot and dry weather and the shady spots probably have held their water better. Things may not go so well in a more drab and wetter summer.
Therefore a few weeks ago I decided to test this and start a polyculture bed in the most unlikely spot in the garden where it has been very difficult to get anything to grow. It is the few feet of border between a (now pollarded and somewhat controlled) weeping willow and (also pollarded) a rowan tree. The soil here is thin, dry, full of roots and not very amenable to growing anything. I decided to enhance its fertility by putting a stack of mulch on it and leaving it to weather over the winter. However I was over ruled by my partner who thought my mulch pile looked like a shallow grave (which indeed it did). The pile was duly somewhat flattened to make it more respectable and over the last couple of weeks a mole (or moles) have been working their way up and down around the trees and this little patch of ground. The result is lots of lovely mole sifted soil.
I still have a lot of veggies that have been patiently sitting in pots for the summer without anywhere to move on to. This week I have been able to transplant a wild beet, a blackcurrant cutting, a Chinese kale and about ten leeks into this patch. I used the mole sifted soil to build up the soil depth where the veggies have gone. This is a totally random collection of plants and I have no idea how they will fare. However I will provide an update in due course.
There is not much to see, but here is a picture of what the bed looks like this afternoon.
And for contrast here is one of the established polycultures looking (I think) prolific and resplendent in this morning’s early sunshine and featuring at the back apples bending the tree over and raspberries; Jerusalem artichokes to the left and in the centre a mixture of kales, oca, wild rocket, chicory, marjoram and chives.