Sunday, 12 January 2014

Starting to clear and triple dig an allotment (12)

The large amount of rain we have been having over the past couple of weeks has meant that even I have had to stop digging.  It takes a trench half full of water to stop me but stop it had to be.

I have finished putting curbing slabs alongside the top of the allotment.  They are not very straight and if they annoy me, I will take them all out and do them again.  However, the plants will grow up and cover them and I will forget how crooked they are.

Moved more of the bay plants next to the path - carefully.  The other bay plants are showing signs of die back after I had moved them.  I don't think that they have suffered too much and will grow away in the spring.  Between the bay plants I have put the Pyracantha rogersiana.  They are tiny seedlings at the moment so will not interfere with the bay (Laurus nobilis.)  

I finished planting the strawberries Fragaria ananassa  in their bed.  I will get some straw for them in the spring.  I squashed in all the plants from the old allotment.  I have hundreds of strawberry plants still on the old allotment so I will be able to replace any that do not survive the winter.

I have transplanted the Salix alba vitellina next to the new compost heap.  It is in a good place because it will hide the compost bin a little, protect the allotment from north westerly winds and provide me with a lot of canes and polls.  I am pollarding it at the moment to encourage it to send up lots of useful stems.

I have planted two of the Salvia officinalis and Petroselinum crispum by the new path.  The herbs will be planted alongside the path so that when they are brushed past I will get their scent.  I wasn't going to plant the parsley next to the sage but I needed the big plant pot it was in.  I used the plant pot to pot up the M9 apple rootstock in readiness for grafting in the early spring.

I have laid twelve two foot concrete slabs alongside the allotment to make a path down the side.  I only need another thirty to finish the path.  As I have been going down, I have been planting mint rhizomes under the slabs so that they will grow through the cracks.  I do this for four reasons.

  • I get the scent of mint when they are crushed while walking past.
  • The mint will compete with any weeds that try to grow between the concrete slabs. 
  • It restricts the mint to the path and stops it spreading into the growing areas.
  • And finally it gives me another mint plant to pick for cooking.  

I have planted Mentha sachalinensis, Mentha spicata, and Mentha suaveolens and still have Mentha x piperita f. citrata "Chocolate" and Mentha xpiperita f. citrata "Grapefruit" to plants.  If I put Mentha aquatica into the pond I will have six different species of mint on the allotment.

After putting curbing slabs alongside the path to keep the soil from falling over, I moved the old carpets onto the dug part of the allotment. Some of this area is covered by the green manure but now a substantial portion is bare earth.  The soil was getting battered by the rain so I thought that I would cover the bare earth with the carpets and tarpaulins.  This has removed the carpets from the area I wanted to dig next, and given me access to the large old compost heap at the end of the allotment.

The compost from the compost heap will be sieved into the top soil as I dig back towards the Crataegus monogyna hedge.  This will take out the compost and flatten the ground so I can dig and use it for planting. The compost area will be the roots and leaves bed for this year.  I will try to sieve the soil quite deeply here because I want some long roots.
Went home for a well earned cup of tea.

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