Published: 14 March 2014
Sue's Views: Week 17
The wonders of artificial fertilisers and organic compost making are key topics at college this week.
We progressed from soil to fertilizer this week. We compared straight fertiliser (one macronutrient such as potassium, nitrogen or phosphorus) with combined and complete (all macronutrients: macronutrients and micronutrients, respectively), you can see why I was beginning to just zone out on nutrients and then POW along comes ‘prill’. Ever heard of it? I certainly hadn’t. It’s a whacky fertiliser that is melted then taken to the top of a tower, thrown off it and on the way down it solidifies into little balls. How cool is that!
We also looked at nutrient ratios: all this 7-7-6 business you might see on bags of fertiliser. Apparently the first number is nitrogen, the second phosphorus, the third potassium, (N-P-K). This number system is however more complex than it appears. These numbers refer to the compound that these nutrients are available in, not the actual amount of N,P or K. These values could actually be much lower. All very complex. In the end I decided it was best just to follow the instructions on the bag and hope for the best!

The weather has been crazy this week. I am so relieved that I live on a hill. I can’t imagine what people in the flooded areas are going through. It’s such a nightmare. The worst that’s happened on the course is having to stand listening to Jane about how a wormery works while the wind howled around us and the hail hit us sideways. We rapidly retreated to the comparative shelter of the courtyard and warmed ourselves up on the ‘Rydan’. This amazing machine is like a super composter. It eats food and wood pellets, naturally heats up to about 70C and brown compost falls out the end. What’s not to like?

There’s a serious amount of assignment build up going on. I’ve got to complete one on how to grow various vegetables, one on crop rotation, one on prolonging the growing season, then there are more coming on compost and green manures, plus the first of our tests on latin names. We’ve got half term holiday next week and I’m off with the family to Bath/London so don’t suppose I’ll get a lot done. Perhaps I should at least take a few of the weed identities with me…

Reported by Sustainable Suzi  

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