Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Starting to clear and triple dig an allotment (4)

I took a large Acer campestris stump up to the new allotment to bury in the second trench.  I had gone down about 500 mm. but wanted to go deeper for the stump.  I took out another spit of soil at the bottom of the trench and just put it to one side in the trench to keep it away from the top soil.  This soil was particularly clay like although there was some sand stone mixed up with it.  This is what gives the allotment soil its characteristics of sandy clay.  I had forked over the bottom of the trench yesterday and this made taking out a hole for the stump much easier.

The tree stump fitted snugly into the hole.  The bottom of the trench needed to be forked again where I had walked on it but this was no effort; the soil being soft and crumbly after forking yesterday.  I put some processed wood planks on top of the stump and some brushwood on top of that.  The wooden planks were very rotten and the web like white fungi mycelium could be seen growing all over it.

The allotment needs to be cleared now so the vegetables that have gone over, like bulb fennel and summer cabbages, are being added to the trenches too.

The rake was used to drag the subsoil back over the added organic matter and the trench levelled off before the top soil was put back on.  I was going to sieve the top soil as I put it back into the trench but I didn't bother.  There were very few small pieces of Calystegia sepium and Equisetum arvensis that were raked out and put into the trusty weed tub.    I am not stupid enough to believe that I have removed all these pernicious weeds but I think that the small pieces that are left in the soil will be easily removed if they decide to grow.

The old potato bed was cleared of weeds so that I could prepare it for sowing green manure.  I am going to plant Secale cereale and Vicia sativa to cover the whole area.  I will also sow green manure where I am clearing the other vegetable beds.  I want the whole allotment covered in green manure eventually, except where the winter vegetables are growing.

By the time that I have cleared and dug trenches out towards the back of the allotment, these winter vegetables will have been harvested and I will be able to put them at the bottom of the final trenches.

I will have to prune back the raspberries and tie them to wires so that the canes do not break due to winter winds.  I will use the prunings to put at the bottom of the digging trenches.  It is all grist to the mill.

The Prunus cerasifera 'Victoria' has cropped extremely well this year.  I think that I have had from 10 to 15lb. of just one tree. I have taken all the plums off the tree because they attract disease if you leave them on the tree to over ripen.  The diseased and eaten plums are being added to the trenches as I go along.

The comfrey leaves under the Victoria plum are going to be dug in where the strawberries are going next year. Strawberries Fragaria x ananassa seem to grow much better when I do this.

At the old allotment lots of vegetables needed harvesting.  I started on the brassica bed because the old cauliflower area was covered in weeds.  I bagged the weeds up ready to take down to the new allotment.  I will add them to the trenches as I dig back.

I harvested two large cabbages but left the swede and kohlrabi for next time.  The sweet corn needed harvesting as well so I went down to the bottom bed and took them all out whilst cropping them.  I eventually ended up with about 25 well formed cobs.  This is the most that I have ever got from sweet corn Zea mays.

The tomatoes have late blight and are no longer any good.  I will take them out and bag them to take to the new allotment.  Really they should have been grown more in the light.  The maize shaded them a little too much.

The cucumbers are still cropping and I took two of them off to take home.

Jobs to do at the old allotment are;
1) Hoe and rake the old potato bed ready for the green manure.
2) Tie up the chrysanthemums.
3)Weed and tidy the roots and leaves.
4)Take down the pea supports and store them away in the shed.
5)Hoe and rake the pea bed ready for green manure.
6)Move the strawberries onto their new bed.
7)Take out the sweet peas, take down their canes and store the canes in the store shed.
8) Collect sweet pea seeds and put them into brown paper bags.
9)Collect the runner bean and climbing French bean seeds and put them into brown paper bags.
10)Collect the dwarf French bean seeds and put them into brown paper bags.
11)Move the raspberries to the new allotment.  (I will need some more mychorrhizal fungi)
12)Take out and pot up the camomile seedlings that have come up on the potato bed.

So a busy month again.

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