A few weeks ago, I was contacted by the folks at soilfixer.co.uk who wanted to know if I’d be interested in trialling their soil improvers.
“We’d like to send you some of a new product we’ve been working on,” they said, “a compost humification agent.”
Humification, if you’re unfamiliar with the term, is the process by which organic matter decays into humus, a dark-coloured, sticky substance that’s an extremely important part of the organic fraction of the soil. Humus increases the soil’s water holding capacity and improves nutrient retention, whilst also helping fine, sandy soil particles to clump together into just the sort of lovely, crumb-like granules that provide really good growing conditions for a wide range of allotment crops.
I’m always up for a spot of experimentation, especially if the results are likely to involve improved soil health and/or crop yield – Soilfixer’s notes estimate a 20% – 100% improvement is achievable – so I readily agreed, with thanks.
I was expecting a 500g-ish pack, so was rather surprised when an 18 litre bucket of Soilfixer C.H.A. arrived a week or so later. “Blimey,” I said to meself, “how much compost are they expecting me to humificate..?”
As it turns out, just enough for a 1m x 1m trial plot. I’ll be setting up four such plots on the allotment next year. One will remain untreated, another will have the C.H.A.-enhanced compost incorporated, one likewise with regular (garden) compost, and the fourth with a second product that they’ll be sending me early next year. I’ll then aim to grow the same crops in all four plots – I’m thinking a selection of broad beans, kale, beetroot and turnip, to give a bit of variety – and record the results to see what, if any, noticeable improvements occur.
In the meantime though, I needed to set myself up with a trial batch of C.H.A. compost. Which I sorted out on Saturday, like so:
1) Mix up a blend of fresh green material, dry woody material, half-composted grass waste and nearly-done (one year old) compost in two trugs:
2) Open the C.H.A. tub and see what it is I’ve been sent:
3) Add a measure of C.H.A. to one of the trugs at the roughly-prescribed rate and mix well:
4) Bag up the two mixes in old compost sacks, label the appropriate one, add half a watering can of water, punch drainage holes in the bottom of the bags and then store to let the composting process do its thing:
That’s pretty much it for now. I’ve not made up a full sack of each as I only need enough for that 1x1m plot to begin with, so I’ll keep an eye on the volume of material in each sack – which will reduce over time – and top them both up if required.
Hopefully by April or May I’ll have two lots of ready-to-use compost and a selection of seeds and/or seedlings to sow/plant out. Then we’ll see what we shall see.