Saturday, 5 November 2011

November digging the new potato bed.

I have put all the comfrey, sweet cicely and the nettles in the bins and they are not very likely to produce any more tops until next year.  The comfrey bins are nearly full of comfrey liquid and I am going to run out of bins to put it into soon.  I will put some on the leeks to see if I can get them to grow a little quicker but this is the only place that I think that it can be used at the moment.

I am triple digging the old strawberry bed at the moment. This is the replacement soil that the council put onto the allotment because the other soil was contaminated by some foul chemical.  They only did the bottom area of the allotment but the soil was, and still is, not very good.  It is mainly a sandy clay with the emphasis on the clay part.  However, this is not the most irritating thing about this new soil.  It is also full of boulders  and stones.  So, while it is being triple dug, it is also being sieved.

I am using Fred's old bread basket to sieve with because it is ideal for sieving out boulders.  I can easily dig down one spit because the top soil is fairly open and friable.  However, the subsoil is just like rock and a fork is needed to penetrate the concrete like soil.  This is not like the soil on the rest of the allotment.  I can go down about a metre on the rest of the allotment and even then the soil is fairly open and friable.

So, the soil is being sieved into the wheel barrow and at the same time horse muck is being added and sieved with it.  An amazing amount of stone is being taken out and it could lead to a lowering of soil level.  I have decided to replace the stones with turfs from the bins by the entrance gates.  It is more soil than turfs but this is of no consequence because I need some top soil to improve this concrete,granite like soil.  The remains of the home made compost is being put at the bottom of the trench with the old strawberries and this is covered with the turfs and then the sieved subsoil goes on next with the sieved top soil going on top.

I have to be careful when I am sieving not to sieve out large pieces of inoculated charcoal.  The bits that I am finding in the bread basket sieve are taken out and crushed with a bull hammer so that I can mix it in with the sieved soil easily.  I am also using the bull hammer to crush some of the stone.

My theory is that a lot of soil nutrients come from the bed rock through weathering.  Although turning over the soil is a kind of weathering and will lead to some breakdown of stones and pebbles, if I crush stone with the bull hammer maybe this will help to add some nutrients to the soil as well.   If it doesn't then I haven't wasted my time because the crushed stone is mixed in with the sieved soil and this will help keep the soil open and easily drained.  I might use some of the stone that I have removed and put by the car park to crush and put back on the soil.

I will apologise now for the overuse of Latin names but I am doing the Royal Horticultural Society's level 2 course and I need to learn a load of Latin names of plants.  So whenever I am writing about the plants I will use the Latin names.

Looked at the Lathyrus odoratus (sweet peas) and some of them are germinating already.  It just goes to show that chipping or sanding the seed is not necessary. I think that this myth is perpetuated by people that do not grow Lathyrus odoratus  and have never tried to germinate the seed.

The Ribes grossularia 'Xenia'  (Gooseberry) and the Rubus fruticosus (blackberry - not sure of the cultivar at the moment) cuttings seem to be established and growing on.  The Rheum rhaponticum 'Timperley Early' has started to throw out leaves already.  I am not sure that this is what I want it to do at the moment.  I know it is an early cultivar but not this early.

The winter flowering Cyclamen persicum spp. have just regrown their leaves and are nearly ready to go back into the house for a Christmas display.

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