Saturday, 5 January 2013

January jobs on the Allotment

I went up to the old  allotment primarily to get some vegetables for the week but I knew  that I really should start to dig in the green manure (winter tares and grazing rye) sown when the potatoes were harvested.

The very wet weather has battered the grazing rye about and it looks a little unsightly now.  The green manure needs to be dug in because I will be planting out the alliums soon.  I have a greenhouse full of garlic, elephant garlic, shallots and onions.  All these plants can be put outside if the winter is not too extreme.  I was thinking of covering them with a plastic cloche anyway but the cloche will be squashed if we have a lot of snow.

The other option is to leave the alliums in the greenhouse until the weather changes in March and this will restrict what seed can be sown now.  If I do not have any space to put seedlings then there is no point in sowing seeds. However, if I can put the alliums  somewhere else, I can get on sowing tomatoes and peppers.

The other option and one that I am seriously considering now  is to repair the cold frame and use that. I was given the cold frame but it had very little intact glass.  Almost all the glass needs to be replaced and this is expensive.  Regardless, I do need the space to put plants and to protect them a little.  A glass cold frame would be ideal because it is less likely to get squashed or damaged by snow.  Apart from replacing the glass, I need to find a permanent position for the frame.

The most ideal place to put it is where the green manure is growing.

So that is another reason for digging in the green manure.  I dug about four feet by eighteen feet into this bed today and will continue to dig whenever I go down to the old allotment.  I am just single digging  because this bed was triple dug and sieved last year.  All that is needed is the green manure to be dug in and left to rot down for a couple of weeks before I begin to plant out the onions.

I am planning  to plant the broad bean plants next to the new raspberry canes and this area need to be dug as well but not at the moment.  

In order to get some big plants the All the Year Round cauliflowers and the summer cabbage were sown.  Tomatoes and sweet peppers sown in three inch pot and brought into the house to germinate.

Some leeks, Brussel sprouts, carrots and parsnips were harvested from the allotment and onions and pumpkins taken from the store shed.  They were put into some plastic crates which will be used as  surfaces to put seedlings on in the green house.  I can carry the harvest home in plastic bags so I can use the crates for other things.

I have been triple digging the new allotment for some weeks now.  It is time consuming because there is so much bindweed and mare's tail deep in the soil.  Mixing in the pigeon manure with the top soil and home made compost is very time consuming particularly as I am using the sieve.  It does make very good friable well mixed soil though so I am loath to stop sieving.  I get rid of all the bindweed rhizomes, mare's tail and large stones by sieving. 

I am mixing into the soil what I think is an old compost pile under the hawthorn hedge.  It has a lot of organic  matter in it and it sieves down to a fantastic crumbly compost.  I have dug down into the subsoil under the compost heap to get what is probably quite infertile soil; sieved it; and added it to the digging trench to plant my grape vine into.  The poorer the soil the better for the vine. I am  not sure that the vine has survived but I planted it anyway.  It has got a sunny position at the west side of the allotment. 

The hole that I dug to get  the subsoil will have to be enlarged because there is a large oil drum on the allotment that needs to be buried.  I am using it for a dustbin at the moment for rubbish plastic and glass which will be buried with the oil drum.  I would have kept the drum as a water container but it does not seem to be water tight. Once it is buried I will fill it with stone  sieved from the dug soil and use it as a soak away under the shed.  More of the stones will be used as a foundation for the shed; covered with a little subsoil with slabs laid on top.  This will give a sound base for the shed; get rid of the stones and position the shed under the hedge where it is too shady to grow vegetables. 

The scrap metal man came past the allotment so I gave him the metal drum and some other metal off the allotment.  This got rid of the problem much faster than trying to bury it.  I will fill the hole with stone.

I really need to get on with the triple digging because I have a lot of plants to put into the new allotment.  There are the new raspberries, blackcurrant cuttings, asparagus, gooseberry cuttings, an apple tree and the bay tree cuttings.

I have buried all the brushwood  two spits down and really need some more.  There is still a lot of brushwood that will come from the hedge at home.  I will also continue to take out the shrubby Locinera and bury that as well.  I have already cut back the hedge at the end of the allotment and buried the brushwood but I am thinking of making the hedge a little thinner still.  It is all grist to the mill. 

My neighbour allotmenteer has given me some woody stuff that he was going to burn together with his old runner bean plants.  Lots of nutrients in these. 

So tomorrow  it  is digging again.  I am  beginning to ache.

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