News from the herb field: December


Monday 09 December 2019



It's December and the herb field is looking a bit bare and naked. We’ve had some lovely cold frosty sunny mornings and a dry spell which has been very welcome as things were getting a bit soggy. Read on to hear more from the Herb field manager Sarah
 

"The root harvesting has been going well, and there will be more to dig up in the new year. The roots are harvested in the autumn and winter months when all the aerial parts of the plants have died back and the energy and goodness is captured in the roots. We had a fantastic Elecampane root harvest this year of 220kg fresh weight - once dried it was 60kg!

After the Elder berry harvest the Elder trees were pruned to keep them at manageable heights for harvesting and in good health. We prune out any dead, dying or diseased branches and any crossing branches that are rubbing together which could cause wounds that might become infected and let pests and diseases in. We leave the seed heads for the birds over winter and the rest of the cutting back and pruning is done from February onwards. By making sure we don't cut everything back and leave some things a bit ‘messy’, it means we can provide a good habitat for overwintering beneficial insects and beetles.

We have also been doing some more Biodynamic preparations. BD500, the horn manure spray preparation, is applied in autumn and spring when the focus is on stimulating and sustaining the communities of micro-life in the soil. We apply this in the late afternoon after stirring for one hour. We have also added the compost preparations to our compost heap and covered it over - which will now be left until next year. The six compost preparations are each made from an herb: yarrow, chamomile, stinging nettle, oak bark, dandelion, and valerian. Five balls of soil are made and one preparation is put into each ball. Five holes are then made in the compost heap and the balls are dropped in and covered over. The Valerian comes as a liquid and this is sprayed over the compost heap before it is put to bed and left to compost down.

For now, the low winter sun is making the herb field a beautiful sight - when it's not raining, that is!"


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