Sunday, 6 October 2013

Starting to clear and triple dig an allotment (6)

Started on trench number five.  Very hard work and tiring but it has not defeated me yet.

It is taking me a long time to sieve out as many of the bindweed and mare's tail as I can find.  While I am not so stupid to believe that I have removed all the rhizomes, at least I will have dented the amount that will come back and irritate me.  Sieving the soil to a depth of at least three feet seems to be the most effective in finding the rhizomes.  

I put some horse manure into trench four and now I am wondering if this is a good thing to do.  Owners give horses worming medicines and these can pass through the animal and into the manure.  However, most of the chemicals are broken down in the horse itself, while some of the chemical is broken down by sunlight.  The rest stays in the manure and is broken down within a fortnight by microorganisms in the manure.  Composting and turning will speed up this process.   Other manures have the same problem but with careful composting the chemicals can be broken down to safer ones.  

The problem with worming medicines is their effect on soil worms.  Most say that it has little effect on soil worms because it breaks down so quickly.  

I am putting fairly fresh horse manure into the trenches, however this soil will not be used until next year so the manure and any chemicals within it will have broken down and decomposed long before any problem that might come from medicines in the compost.  

Having said this, I have put green manures on both allotments where the ground has become cleared.  I am using Hungarian grazing rye Secale cereale on the old allotment to draw up nitrogen from the soil. 
In order to put a little more body into the new allotment soil, I have sown a mixture of Trifolium incarnatum, Vica sativa and Lolium multiflorum  bought from as Lansberger Mix. The seeds have germinated and grown on really well.  I will be using this company again.

As I am not going to eat the green manure, adding horse's manure to their soil will not be a problem.

I have taken down most of the sweet pea plants on the old allotment and put them into the trenches on the new allowment.  The old sweet pea haulms will add nitrogen to the soil because these plants are legumes and have nodules filled with bacteria that fix atmospheric nitrogen.  This nitrogen is incorporated into the swee pea cells as a constituent of proteins and will be released into the soil as the sweet pea haulms decompose in the trenches.

I will add the old runner bean haulms to the trenches for the same reason.  I have not added them yet because I am allowing the bean fruit to ripen and go brown in order to save the seed.  I have collected quite a few seeds for next year both from the runners and the climbing French beans.  
I need to start looking at the catalogues for next year's vegetable seeds.