Sunday, 30 November 2014

Continuing to raise the allotment with trench Hugelkultur (5)

Finished the brassica bed sieve trenching with a little extra to be able to plant the new currant bushes.  I am considering liming the brassica bed because I doubt the allotment has had any lime for a long time.  Lime will counter acidification of the soil; raise the pH a little; possibly protect the plants from clubroot; provide the nutrient calcium and improve the friability of the soil by interacting with clay particles.

Jobs to do; raise the small greenhouse back to the horizontal.  It has sunk because I made the soil very friable digging and sieving it.  Also the shredded wood beds inside the greenhouse have shrunk because they have started to decompose and this has lowered the level of the beds inside the greenhouse.
This is how the greenhouse looked before it
began to sink at the back.  
I will have to remove the glass panes so that I don't put a strain on them.  They all need cleaning so I will wash them both sides before putting them back on the frame.

I think that the greenhouse aluminium foundation needs firmer soil to rest on so I will raise the greenhouse up with leavers and tread in topsoil until it is level.  It is only a small greenhouse so this will not be onerous.

According to Orange Pippin Fruit Trees my Peregrine peach tree on St.Julien rootstock will be coming this week and I want to plant it in the little greenhouse.  Now Orange Pippin have advised me not to plant it in the little greenhouse because it will grow too big for it.  However,  it will not grow too big for a number of years during which I will be able to protect it from late frosts and maybe from peach leaf curl - the scourge of peach trees.  If it does outgrow the greenhouse, I will just demolish the greenhouse and rebuild it somewhere else, leaving the peach tree and its supports where they are so that the tree can expand as far as it wants.

The peach tree is going to be pruned to the fan shape and this might mean that I can take off some sions to graft onto the two St. Julien rootstocks I have potted up in the big greenhouse.  Now that would be a fascinating project.  I have successfully grafted apple trees but have not tried any other top fruit.

Also, I have prepared the soil for the peach particularly carefully giving it a three foot deep topsoil root run both inside and outside the greenhouse, which is probably why I have the problem with the sinking.

I have been debating with myself for about a week now how to plant the new currants as a hedge to divide the new brassica bed from the new curbit bed.  Really there is just room for two bushes, however I am going to plant all four - I think - and then grow them as espalier on wires.  The ground has been very well prepared and should be fertile enough to support the bushes this close together if they are pruned and kept in shape.

I think that I will be able to plant them about three feet apart but I don't want one of them to be too close to the peach in the little greenhouse.  I have one white, one red and two black currants -  and just thinking again - they have different growing requirements.  Red and whites have fruit on old wood and black on new growth.  I might go back to the original plan of just two bushes - the white and red but still espalier them.

Regardless, all the fruit will be planted with a good dose of mychorrhizal fungi spores on their roots.
I have taken most of the topsoil from behind the shed and will replace this with subsoil taken from the trenches.  There was a carpet over the topsoil and this could just be replaced over the subsoil. However, I now want to plant the comfrey here.  I don't know how well it will fair being planted in subsoil but it is a very tenacious plant and will probably produce enough topgrowth, for the comfrey liquid bins, to be worthwhile.

After cutting back the overhanging hawthorn hedge, I was surprised to find that it was not too dark and dingy behind the shed.  This time of year it was getting full sunlight during the morning.  Rather than waste this space, planting comfrey seemed to be the best solution.  Also, if the clematis cuttings take, I want to plant one behind the shed to grow over it.  The roots will be in the shade but the tops very much in the sun.  This will also solve the problem of what to do with the very big piece of concrete reinforcing wire I found on the old compost heap.  I might use it at the back of the shed to grow the clematis up.

Always make the problem the solution.

After all of this, I will continue sieve trenching the curbit and rhubarb bed.  This area was covered with carpets, the old shed and the concrete reinforcing wire and has not been cultivated for at least three or four years.
The old shed and the concrete reinforcing wire
and this is where I will plant the rhubarb

In spite of being covered, it is riddled with bindweed and mares tail and will have to be sieved carefully. I will add woody shreddings to the subsoil and cover with top soil recovered from the path adding farmyard manure and chicken manure to the top soil.  Hopefully, this will improve the fertility and make a good growing area.
Victoria rhubarb on the old allotment.
As part of this bed is going to be for the rhubarb, I am going to make particularly deep trenches, mixing in lots of shredded woody material and farmyard manure into the subsoil.  I will take out some of the subsoil to replace the topsoil I will be removing from the path.  The topsoil from the path will be added to the trench to replace the subsoil.  This will give me a very deep topsoil on a well mixed fertile subsoil.  Hopefully, this will give me a crop of rhubarb as large as the one on the old allotment.  The plants are still on my old allotment and will need to be transported to the new after the ground has been prepared for them.  I have Champaign and a very large rhubarb which is probably a variety of Victoria.  The Victoria rhubarb leaves regularly have two foot six inch petioles and two foot square leaves - at least.  So the varieties of rhubarb will be Timperley Early, Champaign and Victoria.

Once the rhubarb has been tucked in here and the bed dug over, I will start on the potato bed.

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