One way we are able to produce large amounts of healthy food on a small amount of land is our approach to bio-intensive annual gardening. A combination of 80 mm (2.5 inches) of topsoil and copious amounts of high quality compost have allowed us to grow large, healthy and abundant vegetables.
Another way that we achieve high yields is by successive planting. In other words, as soon as one crop comes out another goes in. For example, after harvesting broad beans last spring I immediately planted pumpkins in mounds of compost.
Both of these strategies rely on abundant, high quality compost in order to replenish soil fertility to make up for the food removed. We use a hot composting system called the Berkeley Method that ‘disappears’ meat and roadkill in a matter of weeks.
Sometimes we use our lawn clippings in our compost, and sometimes we use them for mulch.
This week I have taken out some tomato plants that were in the ground since the 21st of September – 6 and 1/2 months – and replaced them with broccoli.
You will notice there are still some capsicum (bell peppers) in the ground, and I even left two of the eight tomato plants rooted as they were still producing. I simply laid them on the ground on top of dried grass mulch.
Each broccoli seedling is planted with a large dollop of compost.
The tomato ties – old bed sheets torn into strips – are collected and stored for next year.
And my helper and I carry on with the next chore.