I made a couple of NDVI images of the beans which had been greatly improved using compost compared to those grown without. The principles of NDVI as based on that
Generally, healthy vegetation will absorb most of the visible light that falls on it, and
reflects a large portion of the near-infrared light. Unhealthy or sparse vegetation reflects
more visible light and less near-infrared light.[ref]Understanding the NDVI PDF[/ref]
Last year we made compost and compost extract for use in the polytunnels. The extract was also looked at with the microscope. Most of the compost after making extract was used in polytunnel which has tomatoes in it. These look healthy and were praised by another local gardener, but there’s no control. However, we did have a control on the extract applied to the beans in another polytunnel.
If you look at the picture at the head of this post, on the RHS of the picture is the control. This is what we would have grown normally.
in the middle on the top you can just see a blue ribbon which is where application of the compost extract stopped. On the left are the plants where compost extract was applied to the ground, it ran out at the blue ribbon point. Same plants, same time planted, and the same set of seeds. The difference in vigour, height of growth and yield is remarkable and clearly to be seen. Continue reading “Remarkable win on beans with compost extract”
The Seed Saver’s handbook says beans are easy to save, so it seems a good idea to start out with them, in this case some Sutton Dwarf beans. The idea if you leave them to dry in the pods and then save the good ones. Beans are an easy win as they adapt over the generations to the local conditions; they don’t use insects for pollination and the book says the gene pool is kept wide to allow self-pollination.
Right off the bat the book says that
The first pods to form are the best for seeds. They are to be found at the base and are larger than subsequent pods, Allow these pods to dry on the bush, and choose those from the most vigorous plants. Such refined steps cannot be taken on a large scale where a whole field is combine-harvested and threshed.
Well, we don’t have a problem picking seeds out of the combine harvester we don’t use 😉
The guys that wrote that book are Australian, and I guess they don’t have a problem with saying you need to store seeds at a relative humidity of 5%.
So I am writing on the evening of what has been a reasonably warm sunny day and I see the RH starting to skyrocket to 50% by 10pm and realise that I need to close the door to the conservatory because the dew comes in the evening as the sun goes down, not in the morning. 5% is going to be a tough call in the UK, probably involving silica gel. Interestingly the Seed Saver’s Handbook says good airflow is more important that high temperature, and it should not go beyond 35C anyway.
They’re right about those lower pods – long beans are definitely the place to go for the size of the seeds. You have to be pretty discriminating about the seeds, however.
This is using Elaine Ingham’s microscopy techniques to investigate thermal compost – some of what I saw. I am at an early stage of being able to do this, so any errors are mine and not Elaine Ingham’s 😉 The principle is to classify organisms by their morphology – aerobic fungi tend to have a colour, diameter wider than 2.5µm and/or have uniform septa. Spiral structures are bad, indiciative of anaerobic conditions, and ciliates (hairs all over the body) also indicate anaerobic – bad- conditions. Apart form the spirochete most of these are good.
This is on a 5x dilution, the recommended intial conditions (use 1ml of compost and make up to 5ml total with water left to stand so the chlorine has gone).
If at first you don’t succeed, try again 🙂 The requirements of Elaine Ingham’s thermal composting are quite demanding, keeping the heap at over 55C for more than three days to kill weed seeds and pathogens. The previous attempt got really close then seemed to dry out, this appears to be a issue with using a lot of woodchip which is a difficult material to wet. This time I used less of it.
I used a higher proportion of green material, and more of the high nitrogen clover too. I filled the wheelbarrows with woodchip and then added water until it overflowed, then left it to soak overnight
After it had been over 55C for three days I turned this heap, wetting the material as it was turned over. I should be able to turn this again on Monday, assuming it holds above 55C
Time to put some of the learning from the last time into practice, with thanks to Polly for help with wrangling the materials –
The clover which it the high-nitrogen component because it fixes N from the air is on the black plastic. Loads of wood chip is in the bin and the wheelbarrow. First we put sticks in the bottom to improve airflow because the whole point of thermal compost is to keep things aerobic
We needed to wet the material. In the video tutorials Ingham recommends standing the material in water overnight. We wetted is using a fine spray on the hose