Saturday, 14 September 2013

Starting to clear and triple dig an allotment (3)

I have the whole winter to clear and plant the new allotment so I am not rushing.  I doubt that it looks much different from last blog but I have taken out another trench and begun to take out the subsoil.  Each of the trenches is taking me about three days to complete.  The subsoil is being sieved and rhizomes of mare's tail and bind weed are being removed.  There is quite a lot of these weeds in this part of the allotment and, even 500 mm. down, there are mare's tail rhizomes.  I doubt very much, even with sieve digging three spits deep, that  I will remove all of this plant.  However, much of the plant will have been removed and hoeing off the tops might weaken it when it shows its head again next year.

This is what the new allotment looks like now.
Most of the processed wood seen here has been buried now.
I just like to remember what the allotment looks like before I clear it.  I have to admit that the carpets have cleared the top growth and this makes the allotment much easier to dig.  The carpets do not remove the rhizomes though so deep digging is necessary.

Second trench with top soil removed
and sieved.
All the top soil in the second trench has been sieved and put to one side.  Any stones that will not pass through the sieve are put onto the stone pile.  These stones will be used as foundations for the sheds and to make paths.  Nothing is wasted on the allotment.  Sieving has thoroughly mixed the top soil giving it a more homologous soil structure.  Breaking up the soil deeply like this enables; organic matter to be added to the soil; improvement to the drainage and water holding properties of the soil; and a friable soil to be provided that will encourage root growth.

The first section of the subsoil is removed and sieved and left at the end of the trench.  This produces a hole two spits deep - about 500 mm.  for convenience it was about one metre square.  Taking out any  more subsoil would have made a big pile of subsoil which would have been difficult to get around.  The floor of the new hole was forked over to another spit deep and the rhizomes discovered  removed.  The soil here has a high proportion of clay and was difficult to break up.  Adding organic matter will help to break up the clay.

Beginning to take out the subsoil and sieve it.  
 I always like to use lots of buckets and tubs to put the weeds into.  The tubs were filled with rhizomes very quickly.
Starting to add organic matter to the trench.
Only when the trench is at sufficient depth will organic matter like processed wood, logs, brushwood and composted rhizomes be added.
Various organic matter added to the trench.  
I also added hedge cuttings, grass and shredded brushwood.  Over the top of the added organic matter I sieved the subsoil from the next part of the trench.  It is going so slowly because of the amount of bindweed and mare's tail rhizomes that I need to take out of the soil.

There is no way that I have removed all the horse tail but I have certainly knocked it back a bit.  It will be manageable if it does return.

There were a great number of plums to be harvested today and I filled a whole crate with them to take home. As I always eat quite a few during the day when I am digging like this it is remarkable that there are still so many left.  I also harvested what was left of the fennel and the celery.

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