Published: 07 April 2014
Sue's Views: Week 18
The start of the growing season has added a lot of work to Sue’s college days plus her exciting new project.
Things are moving on apace, and I’m sorry I’m not quite keeping up with myself with this column. I’ve been beginning to get things in order for life after ‘level 2’ and it’s taken up rather a lot of energy. I’ve invested in a woodland which a friend of mine is helping me to manage and the old muscles are aching now having had to move trees away from an access path. Coupled with failing to control a rotovator for an assessment on Friday, my joints are seriously complaining. Things never quite recovered from three children in fast succession so I have to be a bit more careful these days!
We had a new teacher this week called Carol. She’s a friend of our usual tutor Jane and they made a great double act. We looked at food storage and collecting seeds. Food storage rapidly progressed into discussions about green tomato chutney and who forgot to get the vinegar from the shops. Carol brought us back with alacrity to the task at hand. She has a lot of experience at saving seed and brought us in some squash and seed heads for us to tackle. Trying to retrieve onion seeds from a flower head tested my patience (drove me mad) but I’d consider the larger seeds. It’s a tempting proposition to use seeds from your best produce and create a better crop.

At school farm the first anenomes have come out and are such a splash of colour. We pricked out some tomato seedlings that we sowed a couple of weeks ago. The lucky things have been on a heated bench in the greenhouse so they have had it easy so far. I need a greenhouse. I’m going to sow the seeds for our garden this week and I know they’re not going to do very well on our north facing window sills. I really need a greenhouse! 
We have done mulch to death this week. Two afternoons devoted to it. Sheet mulch like ‘Mypex’ that will kill weeds and warm soil, organic mulch such as wood chips, manure, ‘ecosci’.  Adding nutrients and structure to the soil. We discussed all about nitrogen robbery from woodchips (so you wouldn’t use these on a veg patch as the veg needs all the nitrogen it can get). Talking of nitrogen, it came up in ‘the truth about organic food’ by Alex Avery. Read this if you dare. I thought it would be sensible to get another angle on organic food and had gathered that this was a fact-rich if rather annoying book. It certainly has made me think. My most recent thought is about manure. (Yes I’m sorry). Avery’s concern was that some organic growers use manure from conventional farms, hence using nitrogen indirectly supplied by artificial fertilisers. Seems like a good point. I shall have to investigate. Does anyone know about this? Please tweet me or email.
Reported by Sustainable Suzi  

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