December brings with it some mixed blessings: the need to contemplate relatives, gifts and cards whilst controlling alcohol intake over Christmas and the New Year. Meanwhile, it can be seen as the low time within the growing calendar which can be a tricky time to navigate from a disease and weather perspective.
I don't need to remind you how wet it has been, almost from the end of September, though it's useful for us to think about the implications of all that water for both the plant and for the substrate it's rooted in.
The need to take a breather
Much of the life that we are familiar with uses oxygen in a process called respiration, and that includes microorganisms within the soil. Conventionally a well-structured soil will contain roughly equal parts of water to air contained within the pore spaces. This provides an environment for organisms such as worms, fungi, algae, protozoa, bacteria and nematodes. Some of these are mobile but many have restricted ability to move meaning that the environment largely determines which suite of species can exist - if the soil structure is compacted or waterlogged for periods of time then anaerobic species, organisms that don't require oxygen, will be the dominant form of life.
In this month's diaries we take a detailed look at the above as well as considering all aspects of soil aeration, environmental management regimes and available nutrients.