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Meeting reports 2019

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For those of a certain age, my title will conjure up Kenneth Williams’ comic creation, Arthur Fallowfield, in the classic, Beyond Our Ken (1958 - 64). Half a century later, it’s no laughing matter. We now know that a healthy soil is the foundation on which our survival rests. It is the key factor in producing healthy plants and nutritious vegetables. Paul Williams and Marion Stainton, our speakers in January and February, invited us to consider the importance of knowing our soil and how to improve its health and productivity.

Paul’s talk provided us with a myriad of facts and figures about soil. Did you know, for example, that a centimetre of clay soil can be rolled out to cover a much larger area than one of sandy soil, because its particles are much smaller in comparison? Although heavy clay soil is not an ideal medium for growing vegetable in raised beds, the subject of Marion’s talk, when mixed with well-rotted compost and manure, it provides invaluable water holding capacity. In her talk, Marion gave us a comprehensive overview of gardening in raised beds. Key ideas we took away: the importance of careful planning and preparation; using good quality materials; grouping vegetables in beds, which makes providing the right conditions easier; and, vitally, annual feeding of the soil with mulches of compost and/or manure. Finally, as our chairman concurred in his vote of thanks, raised beds save the busy gardener a great deal of work!