Sunday, 30 March 2014

Finally finished digging Allotment Number Two.

It is amazing how small the allotment looks after it has been dug.  When it was full of weeds and debris it looked enormous.  The task of clearing and digging it over, seemed overwhelming.  The compost heap at the back of the allotment took up over ten feet of growing space, was covered in numerous carpets and consisted primarily of composted shredded woody material.  Now that it has been cleared there is a definite altering of perspective.  I started digging on the 3rd of September and finished the digging on the 26th March 2014 my brother's birthday.

Although the allotment was full of mare's tail and bindweed, the trusty bread tray sieve has helped me to take out the majority of it.
Allotment covered in carpets and tarpaulins
before being dug over. 
Most of these carpets, plastic sheeting and tarpaulins have been removed from the allotment now.  The blue plastic sheets broke up when I was removing them and there are still little specks of blue plastic all over this area.  I will remove any that I find but it is difficult.

After removing the compost pile.  

I buried the big carpets under the back path leaving an overlap that I could take up the bank to prevent the bind weed in the hedge from growing into the allotment.  I may put some concrete slabs to lean along the hedge bank but not until next winter.

Before allotment was dug over;
looking towards the little leaning apple tree.

I was hoping to keep some of the nettles, Urtica dioica, but they were growing through the carpets and would have taken an age to disentangle.  They have all been assigned to the subsoil of the trenches.

I have several large, disintegrating, rectangles of plywood which will need to be removed from the allotment. I will break them up and if they are not covered in paint might use them in the biochar burner.

The hedge at the back of the allotment has been cut hard back both sides and should thicken up really well in the spring.  There is still a lot of bindweed in the hedge but I am hoping the carpet barrier will keep most of it in the hedge and not allow the rhizomes to grow into the allotment.

After digging;  looking a little neater now.
After digging out the large compost pile and
putting in the path along the hedge.
The raspberries are, "Glen Ample"; "Malling's Admiral" and "Cascade Delight".  They are all summer fruiting raspberries because I don't like autumn fruiting ones.

The path up to the greenhouse foundations has been completed with stones sieved from the rest of the allotment.  I am planning to cover the stones with two foot square concrete slabs.
All the mess behind the little apple tree has been cleared
After digging and tidying the back of the

The Sarcococca hookeriana cuttings have been grouped together around the base of the leaning apple tree. The other plants in the pots have been planted in my daughter's garden.  The redcurrant has been moved into the fruit bed on the other side of the allotment and the M9 rootstocks have been taken home and grafted with various apples - I mixed up the prunings and don't know what sion I have grafted onto the rootstock.  I am not worried because, if they grow, they will be an unexpected bonus for the allotment.  I have planted the last of the raspberries behind the leaning apple tree next to the path by the hedge.  They are the "Cascade Delight"

According to the RHS, "'Malling Admiral is a fairly vigourous raspberry with erect canes.  Fruit are red firm, long with a small core and good flavour, heavy cropping from late July to mid August". Whilst the BBC says, "'Glen Ample produces masses of large tasty, deep red raspberries from July to August.  The fruit freeze well so any excess can be used later.  Not too sure about the 'Cascade Delight'
Carpets and blue plastic covering the compost heap. This
has all been cleared away and levelled.
Although you cannot see it from the photograph, there was a large, metal, fire grid type thing and the frame of a metal chair buried in the compost. There were also three blue plastic sheets which were slowly disintegrating into little blue flecks of plastic.  Very difficult to remove all the little flecks, although I have make a good start.  The compost has been mixed through the sieve with top soil and incorporated into the roots and leaves bed.  I dug down at least three spits deep  and removed some of the clay to make the pond.  Smearing the clay over the bottom and the sides of the pond , a process called puddling, should make a waterproof lining.  At the moment the water level is going down because there are some holes in the liner - it is only a black plastic sheet I found buried on the compost heap.

Now all the rubbish has been cleared away
it looks tidy but smaller.  

The metal drum has a lid and could be converted into a burner for biochar.  If it fits into the burner at Bishop's Wood, this would make quite a sophisticated biochar burner. I  am thinking seriously about converting the bindweed and mare's tail rhizomes into biochar.  Last year's rhizomes did compost down when they had been completely dried and I could do this again with this years rhizomes.  However, converting them into biochar means that I can use them on the top soil this year.

The hedge has been pruned hard back to buds that are facing inwards or upwards to, hopefully, thicken it up. Stones and rubbish at the bottom of the hedge have been cleared away so it is looking a little tidier now.

The path has been continued across the back of the allotment under the hedge and this will be slabbed when I have time to bring the slabs down from the old allotment.  Alongside the path, I have planted the last named variety of raspberries.  I think that it is "Cascade Delight".  They have supports already and are secured with wire ties. They have been transplanted very late in the season and not cut back, so it is doubtful they will fruit very well this year.

I will need to continue the allotment path with 2 foot square concrete slabs until it reaches the path along the hedge line.

Pea and roots bed.  
I have to separate the peas and beans bed from the roots and leaves bed.  This will be done with the big blackcurrant bushes at the old allotment.  I don't know if it is too late to move them now but I doubt if they would have cropped very well whenever I had moved them.  They will have to be moved in the next week.  I also want to move the gooseberry and the rhubarb.  However, there is no water on at the new allotment yet and they will not be able to be watered in.

I bought the old blackberry and loganberry supports from the old allotment and constructed them on the new allotment.  They were an old climbing frame that my son and daughter had when they were young.  The metal is rusting but it is still good enough to support the plants.  
Brassica bed and bay tree.
I have put green manure on the brassica bed to keep it covered and stop the nutrients from being leached out before I get a chance to plant the brassica seedlings.

Started to put up the sweet pea supports
The green manure on the sweet pea bed was dug in and I started to put up the sweet pea canes.  I need some more canes now and I will have to retrieve them from the old allotment soon as I can.  

Dug in most of the green manure on where the onions and leeks are going to go and hoed between the strawberries.  I still want to put some straw mulch between the strawberries but have not got round to getting the straw.  
Garlic and shallots.
The garlic and shallots have produced some leaves now and are growing away well.  The grape's buds are swelling but not broken out yet.  
New puddled pond
I still have the winter cauliflowers to harvest when they decide to flower.  They are growing quite big now so I expect it will not be long now that April is just around the corner.

I am trying to puddle the pond with clay.  It is starting to make a waterproof seal but I need to spend some more time smearing the clay on the sides of the pond to make a seal.  I have some 1x2 foot slabs that will fit around the pond, however one of the sides will be the greenhouse path and the other will be the greenhouse base.  I am also going to put the sundial in one of the corners of the pond.  

The foundations for the greenhouse and the path to the greenhouse have been finished.  Now I need to get some paving slabs to make the path and base for the greenhouse.

So still lots of things to do but at least I have finished the digging part.  However, there is the next door quarter allotment which I have said I will clear this year.  I might as well start on that when all the other jobs have been done.  Hey Ho why not...

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