I’m planning to start running what I hope will be a long-term experiment in different methods of organic vegetable growing, and I’d like to invite comments on it. If you can suggest ways in which the experiment could be improved, please let me know now before I embark upon it!
I’ve written a brief outline of the experiment under the grand title of the ‘Vallis Veg Small Scale Horticultural Trial’ which is also available on the Research and publications page, so I won’t repeat the details here. The basic point is that in an ideal world it would be nice if each garden plot could produce huge quantities of food, while requiring virtually no human labour or other resource inputs, and with no damage to the soil or the environment.
Back in the real world that’s not so easy to achieve – and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! There are likely to be tradeoffs between various desired goals, and I doubt that there’s any such thing as a perfect growing system that optimises all of them. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that different authorities offer quite a number of variants on the theme of how to maximise fertility inputs while minimising tillage and labour, but there doesn’t seem to be an awful lot of convincing data around to evaluate the various claims. This is something that I hope I can help correct with the proposed experiment. If nothing else I ought to get some nice vegetables, improve my fitness through prodigious feats of double-digging, and do my bit to ward off the recession by providing some welcome business for soil testing laboratories. But if you can think of better or different approaches that I should be pursuing, I’d be grateful to hear your thoughts.