Saturday, 21 September 2013

Starting to clear and triple dig an allotment (5)

The clearing and digging project has not progressed very much recently but  I am in no hurry.  The slower I am, the better I  remove the weed rhizomes.  Also, I have the whole winter to finish the digging.

Due to clearing off weeds and planting green manure on the old allotment, I have neglected the digging on the new allotment but that will change next week.

To be reasonable with myself and not to apply too much pressure on joints, a trench will take me at least two days and possibly three to finish.

I have collected a lot of organic matter to add to the bottom of the trenches and I will put as much as I can into each trench.

Taking out and sieving the top soil of trench three
The third trench top soil is put onto the previous
trench top soil.  
The soil in this part of the allotment is a little 'thin'
- meaning it does not have a lot of organic matter in it.
One spit of topsoil is removed and sieved through the bread tray and left on the side and when this is completed a second subsoil spit is taken out and sieved.  This will help to provide good drainage, a deep root run for vegetable plants and enable me to bury a lot of organic matter.  The organic matter will act as a sponge that will allow water to pass through it during wet periods and retain water during dry periods. When digging, air is added to the soil and this enables organic matter to be decomposed quickly. As the organic matter decomposes, it will release nutrients back into the soil which can be returned to the top soil.

I dug the trench on across the allotment but I still have not taken the top soil out all the way across the allotment.  Although this topsoil is pretty thin and lacking in organic matter, it looks quite good after sieving.

The second spit down will be sieved well in order to remove as many of the bindweed and mare's tail rhizomes as possible.

Parsnips and peas in the new allotment.
Inevitably at this time of year the allotment looks very untidy because a lot of vegetables have been harvested and some have gone over.  While the parsnips will be left in the ground over the winter, the pea plants behind them will be taken out and put into the digging trenches.  The pea supports will have to be stored somewhere for next year.
Winter brassicas
I took out all of the Kestrel potatoes at the end of August.  The ground has been left bare in preparation for sowing with winter green manure.  There is a little ephemeral weed on it but these can be hoed off very quickly.

Some of the early sprouting broccoli have flowered so I will take them out and put them into the digging trench.  Although I put these plants two feet apart  they still seem to be crowded.  I may give them even more space next year.

Forked over old potato bed
I was going to use the Mantis tiller to prepare the ground for the green manure but it only took me 15 minutes to fork over this area.  The Mantis does make a fine tilth and I may still use it.  My preference is to use the fork because this enables you to find any potato tubers that have been left in the ground.

This rhubarb is in the wrong position now and will be moved during the winter. There is one root of Timperley Early and the others are a heritage variety.  In order to make sure that I don't have to move them again, I need to make a careful plan of the allotment now to make sure that I know where I am going to put things.

The wooden stakes are going to be used along the raspberry line.  Wires will be stretched between them and the raspberry canes will be tied to the wires.

I am saving a lot of the bean seeds for next year.  Sweet pea and garden pea seeds are being saved as well.


  1. You gave me a light bulb moment!
    I never thought to use the tiller for the veg areas!!! Mr TG uses a big rotovator for the land clearance yet I never thought to use the small tiller for my veg beds - it's like one of those slap your forehead Duh moments.
    You're certainly doing alot of digging on your allotment and I don't think it looks untidy at all, in fact I think it's looking quite orderly :)

  2. Hi Linda
    I really bought the Mantis tiller to rotivate the veg beds although I have used it quite often to rake and scarify the lawn using the special attachments. The tiller makes a really good tilth for seed beds and as I am going to be sowing quite a bit of green manure this autumn, I will be using the tiller quite a bit.

    Thanks for the comments about the allotment not looking too bad. Although there are some untidy allotments quite close, I worry that other people think I am making a mess. The down side of public gardening I suppose.