Friday, 5 December 2014
Continuing to raise the allotment with trench Hugelkultur (6)
I raised the greenhouse up to the horizontal, well almost, and moved the water butts again. I have tied ropes onto the gutters and led them into the butts so that rain water will flow along them and into the butts. It works very well for the main greenhouse so I expect it will work for the small greenhouse too.
Raked around the small greenhouse to level where I had been standing and then put some boards along the path to retain the topsoil. Most of the boards were rotten and full of fungi but they will do for now. Put some woody chippings down the path over the stones and that made quite a good pathway. It is not very permanent because the chippings decompose over a year into a very friable compost like material. However, this will do for now too.
Planted the white and red currant about a metre apart between the brassica and curbit beds adding mychorrhizal fungi spores to the roots. Then I was just about to start digging again when the site secretary came along and started chatting. I will start taking out more of the top soil from the path to put onto the growing beds so that I can fill the holes with stone sieved from the trenches.
It turns out that there has been noone renting the bottom quarter of allotment 3A so, as I have paid for it, I will continue to raise this half allotment with the trench Hugelkultur right down to the shed.I levelled the path alongside and behind the shed where I had taken out the topsoil. The path is now a stone clay subsoil mixture. Now that I have cleared the back of the shed I have an area to store things. I have moved the FIBC builders bag to the back of the shed so that I have somewhere to put the weed rhizomes after sieving them out of the soil. The bag is very effective in preventing the rhizomes from growing out of it and the rhizomes eventually dry out and rot down to a friable compost.
I have potted up all the chrysthanthemums and all I need to do is find a place either in the big or small greenhouse to store them. They will produce cuttings for next year which will be potted up next spring.
Took out the first four foot trench on the curbit and rhubarb bed and left the sieved top soil where I had already dug. The trench is right by the concrete slab path so it will be easy to add organic matter from the compost area. Brushwood; woody shreddings and farmyard manure were added and mixed with the subsoil before the top soil was put back into the trench.
I also dug out and sieved the top soil from about a square metre of the path on the other side of the allotment. This gave me a sizable hole to to put the sieved stones.
I am going to take some subsoil out of the trench where the rhubarb is going to go. I will use this to fill the hole in the path and will not sieve it. However, I am going to sieve the subsoil left in the trench and mix in lots of woody shreddings and a little chicken manure. I am hoping to make a deep root run for the rhubarb using sieved top soil from the path to replace the removed subsoil. I will also add some of the farmyard manure to the top soil to improve its fertility, which could be suspect because the ground has not been used for at least three years.
I have at least three varieties of rhubarb;'Timperley Early'; 'Champaign' and 'Large Victoria'. I have no idea what the other two varieties are and I am not sure whether I am going to keep them.
I have not dug this area before. It has been covered with a tarpaulin, several carpets and the dismantled shed for almost two seasons. In spite of the coverings, there are still viable couch grass, mare's tail and bindweed rhizomes growing from the uncovered area at least six feet away. It is a time consuming task to remove all of these rhizomes but has to be done to save time an effort trying to remove them in future years.
I don't really want the bind weed and mare's tail to get into the rhubarb roots because removing them would be difficult and involve taking the rhubarb roots out. Rhubarb has big, heavy, deep growing roots and once planted should remain tucked away in the soil.
The one year old Peregrine peach on St Julien rootstock has arrived and is much bigger than I thought it would be. Regardless, it was planted in the small greenhouse with a little mychorrhizal fungi. It will have a very deep root run and should produce some fruit in two years time. I have not pruned it yet because RHS advises no pruning in the winter to avoid silver leaf disease.
"Like plums, peaches are vulnerable to silver leaf and canker so do not prune in winter." Page 132 in RHS "Pruning and Training" by Brickell and Joyce.
Orange Pippin Fruit Trees are impressive, emailing me in good time that they were about to send the tree, however I will not be pruning straight away as they advise.
The peach is very well feathered and has two very suitable lateral branches for pruning to a fan form. The main stem of the tree will be cut down to these lower branches, which will give me several useful scions for grafting. I have taken several suckers off the large plum tree I inherited on the allotment and potted them up as rootstock for the grafts. I am presuming that the rootstock is St. Julien. If the grafts are not successful, I will still have gained some more experience of grafting and not lost anything except time. If they are successful I will have gained three new Peregrin peach trees.
Where I will plant them I haven't a clue. Peregrin is a fairly tender peach and only does really well with protection. There is not really much south facing protection on my allotment. This will not daunt me though because at the very least I can sell them if they produce worthwhile plants.