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Casa San Lorenzo: Autumn approaches

October 12, 2012

Hope you’ve been enjoying tasting our kitchen garden produce at Centotre and The Scottish Cafe!

Here’s how Erica is looking after the next of the crops, and making sure the soil is well cared for too:

“As summer fades into autumn, and the night temperatures start to dip, we’ve been taking a few precautions in the kitchen garden to protect our edible friends and improve the soil for the following growing season.

Crop protection

The salad bed was covered earlier today with a layer of horticultural fleece laid over a series of blue plastic piping (alkathene or MDPE polypipe). These low-level cloches will protect the salad leaves from any frost and help to extend the cropping season to provide fresh leaves to Centotre and the Scottish Café right into winter.

Suppressing weeds

We are attempting to smother the perennial weeds – and boy do we have a few (creeping buttercup, dock and couch grass) – in our newly created fruit bed by using “sheet mulches”.  This is basically sheets of moist cardboard covered with a layer of thick compost.

By excluding the light it helps to prevent weed regrowth. As the cardboard and compost breaks down it also improves the structure and biological life of the soil.

Soil improvement – green manures

We have also decided to sow one of the newly prepared beds with a green manure mix of Grazing Rye, Secale cerale and Vetch (also known as winter tares), Vicia sativa. This will grow over the autumn/winter and eventually be chopped down and dug back into the soil in the spring prior to planting.

This adds organic matter to improve the soil’s structure, fertility and microbiological activity. It also helps to suppress weed growth, prevents soil erosion and nutrients being leached.”

Erica Randall, Head Gardener at Casa San Lorenzo

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