Riverford Wicked Leeks

saving our soils

This week Stan and I have been walking the fields that we are starting to convert to organic status. For the last forty years they have been managed intensively in a conventional way and the lack of life and deterioration in structure of some fields is staggering. Like many farms over the last forty years, the pressure in the marketplace and the drive for increased efficiency has led to sustainability of the land playing second fiddle to the need for high outputs, year in, year out. The consequences are dramatic. Instead of a nice crumbly soil with plenty of life and organic matter to hold moisture and build structure, you end up with something that looks more like big, lifeless blocks. This is not the sort of foundation that makes for a good start in life for our first crops. To attempt to grow any crop, without the crutch of pesticides and fertilisers on this land this season, would be an absolute disaster. Instead, our challenge is to set about reinvigorating the land over the next two years. Mixtures of grass, clover and other legumes will be planted, along with liberal applications of compost. It will take time but, by 2009, the life will have moved back into the soil in its millions and the added organic matter from the roots and compost will have an enormously positive impact on the soil structure. Only then will we consider risking our first plantings destined for the box.

Thanks for your feedback

Thank you to everyone who has given some thought to the onion mountains and