HAY IN WINTER

Before it snowed I was still working on bringing up hay from the field which we had scythed in August. The thick  hay pile we left under the silver birch tree has already partially rotted down to something like ready made compost. It is full of life and I can see that it has been well picked over by the badgers who have been eating the worms in it.

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Winter in my garden – I wonder where the snakes are hiding now?

I am adopting the Ruth Stout method of gardening with hay. She bought her hay supplies from a farmer. In our case we have two thirds of an acre of old hay meadow, really rich in wildlife: it needs cutting every year and the hay removed to keep fertility low and encourage wild flowers. So we have started a perfectly integrated Permaculture system here whereby the hay from the field is going to provide the fertility for growing our vegetables.

In the kitchen garden I went out to get vegetables before it snowed. I dug up leeks from under their thick blanket of hay mulch, and I find they have done terribly well. They were decimated by leek moths in the summer and I did the drastic thing of cutting them all back to almost ground level with a knife. Then I mulched them with thick hay and wonderfully they have recovered.

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My leeks – under a blanket of hay and snow.

And I made soup this weekend from one of my Golden Hubbard winter squashes. It made thirty portions of delicious soup, combined with home grown leeks and some sweet potatoes from the CoOp.

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My squash larder in December. (I gave some of them away as Christmas presents.)

And sitting on the floor in front of our wood burner, all nice and cosy, eating squash soup I feel like I have landed in heaven.

2012-11-16 09.57.08Wood burner heaven!

3 thoughts on “HAY IN WINTER

  1. Hi! I’m curious as to how you planted your leeks. Usually they are planted in furrows but since I’ve started using the no-till method I’m wondering of they can be planted like anything else and then heavily mulched as they grow.

    • I plant leeks in holes made with large dibber (a broomstick or cut off spade handle), drop small plants into hole and just water in. This is a regular method and I find it works here even with very shallow soil depth. You can trim the roots and tops when you do this transplanting as well. The transplanting aims to get the plants settled deep and well below the surface so you get a good length of white stem on the leeks. Too near the surface and they will grow mostly green, but perfectly edible! And they like a good deep mulch of compost, hay or grass clippings. I find this combination gives good crops.

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