I start to feel very guilty, after watching Geoff Lawton's permaculture videos, that my methods are old fashioned and possibly destructive.
And then I look at my soil and see how it has improved over the year I have been cultivating it. The top soil has improved both in soil life and fertility. Not only that but the cropping system that including a rotation of legumes has enlivened the soil These allotments were worked out. They had been cropped and weeds removed for years without any replenishment. They were consolidated hard pieces of ground with very few worms and lots of deep rooted weeds. Just mulching and leaving it to the non existent worms did not seem to be an option. However, with a better more fertile, less weedy allotment, I would just cover and mulch.
I started the trench across the bottom quarter of the new half allotment taking out the top soil.
|New trench across the bottom of|
I had to clear off several large pieces of plywood which I could not break up. I have stored them behind the shed under some carpets. I just hope that this does not attract the rats. They seem to like burrowing beneath carpets. I also put the canes and stakes that were on this piece of ground, together with the black plastic covering, behind the shed in a store area. As I work down this part of the allotment I will put more things in the store area. I am storing the canes in upright pallets which are secured to the ground with iron bars found on the allotment. However, I have temporarily run out of pallets because I am using them to dry the weed rhizomes before I put them into a compost bin. These are the very invasive weed rhizomes that easily regenerate so must be dried carefully.
|Weed rhizomes drying before going on the|
|Pile getting bigger.|
If I attach the reinforcing wire to the back of the shed then I can use it to store the large canes by tying them horizontally onto the wire.
As I have been digging out the first trench, I have come across these scary Calystegia sepium nodules.
|Scary Calystegia sepium nodules|
|Trusty bread tray sieve.|
|Stones left after sieving.|
clear the ground of these pernicious weeds. Progress is quite slow, however the benefits of
The only reason I remove large stones is because they prevent me from making a lovely smooth seed bed. When you rake along the garden line before making a drill for seeds, you are left with a small pile of stones which you don't know what to do with. Also when raking soil back into the drills, large stones seem to materialize from nowhere and fall into the drill.
I am using two tubs at the moment; one for weed rhizomes and the other for stones and blue plastic specks. The specks have come from blue sheets of plastic that people put on the soil. Don't use blue plastic sheets. They are translucent; they don't kill the weeds and they become brittle and break up into tiny pieces.
I am going to plant more raspberries across the allotment here adding the support poles and plants as the top soil is returned to the trench. I will take out some of the subsoil completely and put it on the paths. This will be replaced by topsoil scavenged from behind the shed. There was a mound of soil, which might have been a compost heap at one time, under the hedge. It was very friable and full of organic matter. I will use this to deepen the root run of the raspberry plants.
|Sieved top soil. Also set up my worm bin in|
the blue butt. I have put some bindweed
rhizomes in to see if the worms will deal with
The wooden path edging is decaying. I am keeping this edging because I have nothing else to restrain the soil when I put it back onto the growing area. Wood rots; I've just got to get over it. I really don't like using it though.
|Still a lot to clear.|
|However the weeds will come back with|
a vengeance in the spring.
I raise allotments not just beds.