I was wondering today when I began to sieve the potato bed soil. Looking back at the blogs, it seems as though I started in November. It is now January and I still haven't finished. I have tried several different ways to speed up but if I want to mix in the horse manure and pigeon muck then I will have to stick to the technique that it am using now. I put the bread tray onto the wheel barrow; fill it with soil; add the manure and then push the soil backwards and forwards with a spade until it all falls through the holes unless it is a stone larger than about 1 inch in diameter. The stones are then put into a bucket and finally put onto the stone heap by the car park.
I am not joking when I say that I am thoroughly fed up of doing it now. However, I will continue because there is not much left to do.
It means that the soil has been sieved to a depth of about 600mm and that manure has been mixed throughout this profile. Whether that makes a jot of difference remains to be seen but it is worth doing just to see if it does produce better potatoes. I would not recommend anyone doing this because it is time consuming and could be completely pointless.
I have a rat on the allotment and I have to decide what to do about it. I don't think that it is living on my allotment although there are some holes and runs around the compost heaps. I was going to take down the compost heaps and redo them so this might help it get the message that I don't want it on the allotment. If disturbing it does not deter it I may have to take sterner action.
There are two ferocious cats on the allotment and I heard one of them having an altercation with the rat but it escaped because I saw it in the compost heaps later.
I dug up all the remaining parsnips because they were in the way of the digging. They were piled up and covered in soil to keep them fresh. Some of them were quite big and shows you how important it is to thin them out when they are young. Even though I was quite ruthless and thinned them to about 150 mm apart, I still have too many and will find it difficult to get through all of them. This season I will thin to about 300 mm and see if I can get even bigger ones.
The rocket and the American land cress have grown remarkably well during the winter and I am continuing to harvest them. This is probably due to the warm winter we are having. I have put the cloches over the American land cress to see if it will encourage growth. The leaves are a little small at the moment. I am coming to the end of the carrots and they have had a really good season last year. I just hope that they do as well in the new season. Thinning is important when growing carrots as well as parsnips.