The easiest way to test soil health is to dig holes and count earth worms. So thats what I did. I found two limp and small ones in the first line. IMG_1408

I found two earth worms in eight bulb planter samples of 20cm x 5cm. Their bodies were limp and small reminiscent of an overworked under nourished miner after a seven day week. The sick looking worms were struggling to find food in the thick synthetics soup that is consistent with 30 years of western agriculture common in the UK. The field has been intensively framed – corn and wheat – for 30 years. The soil would of been privy to a holiday every now and again, but basically it was used as a holding ballast for the synthetics of the chemical industry, long since shamed by Rachel Carson in Silent spring, helped by James Lovelock (Lovelock, J, 2014). I can see the soil is devoid of health, the plants are tiny, the Viola flowers are the size of a babies finger nail, and the touch of the soil is hard unforgiving, but I still feel the need to test for earth worms to enable comparisons further down the line in soil improvement. I would of liked to of tested for respiration, but I don’t have a budget for that as its £700 for a single test, so earth worms are a grand substitute for gaging life and health in the soil.

Because of the lifelessness I have embarked on a mission to build the organic matter back up:

Wood chip compost. Working with landscapers and tree surgeons to build piles of wood chip

Working with a local wood yard to build piles of sawdust – I’ll add plant matter as the year goes on.`

Talking to Devon county council to look at the possibilities of building a community compost for Dartington

100’s of tonnes of top soil from local sources built onto the field

The nest stage is a horse and harrow to level the top soil and disturb the top layer of the rest. I’ll then plant the following seeds – in kg’s to the right:

White Clover – small leaved    £8.00/kg   or  £14.00/kg *organic*  1-3kg/acre

1

White Clover  – medium leaved £7.00/kg    1-3kg/acre

1

Alsike  £6.00/kg   2-4kg/acre

1.5

Late Flowering Red Clover    £5.00/kg   3-4kg/acre

2

Sainfoin    £5.00/kg *organic*    25kg/acre minimum

14

Egyptian Clover  £6.50/kg

2

Persian Clover  £7.00/kg   3-4kg/acre

2

Crimson Clover  £6.50/kg *organic*   5-6kg/acre

3

Yarrow     £23.00/kg   1kg/acre or less

1

Ribwort Plantain    £11.00/kg    3-4kg/acre

2

Puna Chicory   £11.50/kg     3-4kg/acre

2

lupin

Bye for now, thanks for reading.