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Gardeners' World

This is (what I knew as the 'Root Lab') the East Malling Research Station (Head Office, where years ago, the then Director Dr Tubbs, told me that I wasnt firing on all four cylinders and that he didn't approve of my sideburns.))

East Malling Head Office
These shots were taken during shooting with BBC Gardeners' World, due for transmission in Spring 2017Gardeners World Rhyzotron

The story they tell is how this Rhizolab got me thinking about the way the springtails grazed the roots of the fruit trees. The lab was built to see how the roots grew - in order to classify the famous Malling rootstocks, found throughout the world. When East Malling was taken over recently, it was estimated that the value of those rootstocks - pretty well given away, could have earned over £9 billion. But it wasn't the roots I was interested in but the small soil creatures. 

Rhyzotron (root lab) RoofYou can see the roof of the Rhizolab alongside low stocking apples.

East Malling viisit
When being filmed, I suggested walking along these rows of apples, I was told, 'No; they are too appley' I didnt make sense till realisng that the transmission is due in Spring  - 'when the shots will look too appley reminding everybody of autumn'. 

The filming took all day, for a five minute sequence.they will show how to extract the soil animals, using the expensive gear, 

Tullgren Funnels

This would cost over £1000 . So I have developed this cheap gear.  See DIY for more on HomeLab


 I was asked while filming for them: "what relevance has all this for gardeners?" Some soil animal tips for Gardeners

.1 To get things going throw a lump of leaves. Woodlands have.most soil animals and they are.much the same as in gardens.

2 Look out for  ground beetles..good sign that there are creatures to live on. (working on thow they digest their prey. They vomit then wait and suck it back. You can see this if you heat a testube with a beetle in. Try it.).

3 Makes sense of well known composting tip "mix green and brown". The animals for 'green' will be springtails', those for 'brown' will be oribatid mites. Together they make soil web in total. That gives you all creatures needed to keep your plant roots healthy and deal with the debris. Worms turn over the soil the small arthropods then transform the plant remains into of the soil.

And at the end of the shoot, the Director asked 'Could I ask a cheesy question?" "Yes Of course". "We've always said that the gardeners' best friend was the earthworm, what do you say to that?"
I said: "Worms are probably gardeners best friend, as they transfer the soil around, but they have now been joined by 12 quadrillion other little friends who transform that soil.