All Hallows’ Church is near the top of a hill (in fact, it is opposite Hill Top Street!) and the garden faces mostly south and west. It is very exposed and the garden edge is a wall with a drop of several metres. I had already identified wind as an issue and we have planted some hazel along the top of the wall to grow into a windbreak but we do need to do more.
Today, as I was working in the church and vicarage garden with a group of volunteers, it became obvious just how big a problem the wind is. The vicarage has several raised beds, some of which are bare soil, some with green manure planted. As we weeded the first bed and dug in the green manure in the second bed we could see just how quickly the soil dried out in the wind and then blew off the surface – soil erosion before our very eyes! Unfortunately the soil is dusty and has little humous so far, something we hope to improve, but what do we do now?
One thing is to make sure that we don’t leave any bare soil. We are going to try to mulch and grow as much green manure as we can when we don’t have a crop in the ground. I’m also quite keen on growing companion plants around our fruit bushes and trees. We also need to make as many windbreaks as possible. Because of the hard surfaces of the church and vicarage walls and fence this is going to be quite difficult because the walls channel the winds and cause them to speed up. We are going to have to investigate as many different ways, small and big, that can provide shelter for our plants.
We also planted some beans today and I am not expecting much success. Although the plants looked healthy and we watered them as soon as we planted them, within minutes the leaves began to look limp as the wind started to drag moisture from them. Our fruit bushes and trees look more healthy as they are more established but they must also be affected by being exposed to such a wind.
So, the plan is to find ways of:
– reducing the drying effect of the wind on the soil
– reduce soil erosion due to wind
– reduce the dehydrating effect of the wind on the plants.
I’ll report back later!