Gardners and farmers are starting to embrace regenerative agricultural techniques as a means to do their part in tackling climate change by rebuilding soil organic matter and restoring degraded soil biodiversity helping both carbon draw-down and improving the water cycle. Our Garden is already chemical free and our amazing new Head Gardener Erika Haeggmann was hired this summer to bring her knowledge and experience in this area to help us improve our soil conservation and carbon credentials. The hope is to improve the yields and the quality of the botanicals we use to make our luxury craft gins.
Erika has written a short blog on her plan to introduce a 'no-dig' method to the Garden.....
The distillery garden will be getting some well-earned TLC during the autumn and winter months. According to us, the best way to do that is to implement the no dig method to our production beds. No dig simply means that you leave the soil undisturbed. No traditional double digging or forking. The microorganisms in the soil and our backs will be equally happy about this!
To start a no dig bed you will need cardboard and organic matter to mulch with. In our case, we will use cardboard from the café and lay it down on top of the empty bed. This is to stop light reaching the weed seeds in the soil. Then you simply add a generous layer of mulch to the cardboard. The adding of mulch to the surface, rather than forking it in, is more in line with nature itself. Think about the forest floor, getting a layer of leaf mould every autumn as the leaves fall.
In doing this, the soil structure is undisturbed, which helps maintain aeration and drainage. This leaves the microorganisms, fungi and animals in the soil free to do what they do best: decomposing organic matter and releasing nutrients. Aside from being timesaving, as this method naturally suppresses weeds, no dig beds tend to have a larger harvest yield compared to other growing methods. The beds will also require less watering, as the mulch will help to retain moisture.
One of the coolest benefits is that the soil will conserve more carbon. In traditional gardening, when you disturb the soil by digging, carbon dioxide escapes the soil and joins the atmosphere. By not digging, the carbon stays in the soil, helping us reduce our carbon footprint.
Most importantly, the plants will be a lot happier and healthier, as the thriving microorganisms in the soil will help release nutrients and moisture. This will result in higher quality harvests and ultimately higher quality gin.