Disposing of remains of crops

The best way to dispose of remains of crops varies with the circumstances. Often, where growth is healthy and conditions relatively pest and disease free, any remains of top growth and roots can be dug back into the soil after sprinkling them with a little chalk. It is best to use a sharp, stainless steel spade, chopping through the plant material and turning it into the soil. If done in autumn, this provides useful material for green manuring, which improves the soil by adding humus and making nutrients in the soil more readily available to plants. If you do not use them as a green manure, crop remains should be composted, provided that they are free of pests and diseases.

Bonfires and incinerators

The garden bonfire is a useful way of disposing of garden refuse that cannot be used, and may also provide a useful source of potash. If the fire is not built or lit properly it can be a nuisance to neighbours and a health hazard. The smoke from burning plant material is known to contain cancer-creating chemicals. Smoky fires must be avoided; they can be prevented if care is taken to see that material is dry before ignition, and that a proper bonfire technique or an incinerator is used.

The secret of a successful bonfire is to get a good draught of air up the centre. This can be achieved by first making a cone of dry wood and piling dry material, such as leaves, loosely on top of this. Alternatively, a pile can be made on some loosely crumpled chicken wire or similar material. Incinerators can be bought from garden shops and suppliers; there are various designs.

One type of incinerator is made from wire mesh. These work well, but rarely seem to last very long. If you buy one, look for one with wire as thick as possible and of the stoutest construction. Another form of incinerator takes the shape of a ‘dustbin’ with short chimney. This type has the advantage that the fire is very well controlled and flames are prevented from spreading. It is excellent for use in a small garden or in an area where space is restricted by fences or hedges. Unfortunately the metal may not be long-lasting, so that after a time the parts exposed to the greatest heat tend to rust badly and disintegrate.

A simple do-it-yourself incinerator can be constructed by standing concrete blocks on top of each other to form a cube or cylinder, leaving gaps, at intervals, for air to enter. The incinerator will burn material even better if you cut a short length of scrap piping and put it at the bottom to act as a grate. The concrete blocks may crumble in time if intense heat is generated, but they can easily be replaced, as can also the scrap iron pipe.

Never throw paraffin or other in-flammable substances onto a bonfire or incinerator—this is extremely dangerous and has caused serious accidents.

Compost heaps

A serious source of pests and diseases is sometimes the garden compost heap. As a safeguard, it is wise not to put any infected material on it. If the heap is properly made so that it ferments to produce plenty of heat, most pests and diseases should be killed. However, the outer parts of a heap may not get hot enough. It follows that if possible only the inner parts of a heap after fermentation should be put directly on the garden soil. The outer parts, which may not be properly rotted, should be used to start another heap. Compost bins with well insulated walls and roofs, either home-made or bought, generally give a more sterile product than open heaps and those made in mesh containers.

Flame guns

A useful tool for keeping the vegetable and fruit plots clean is the flame gun. This burns paraffin, and there are models to suit small or very large plots. The smaller types have a burner shaped like a rod and issue a narrow cone of flame that can be easily directed where required without damaging surroundings. Large models have the burner and paraffin reservoir mounted on a trolley and a hood over the burner deflects the flame downwards.

A flame gun can be used to kill off the remains of crops and, at the same time, destroy pests and diseases. After the remains have died, a further flaming will cause ignition of the dried vegetable matter and its disintegration into ash, which can then be dug into the surface of the plot with advantage.

06. July 2013 by admin
Categories: Compost Making, Soil Cultivation, Starting a Garden, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Disposing of remains of crops

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