I turned the compost bins again today. I think that it is noticeable how much slower the decomposition is than during the summer. However, it was a balmy 130C all day today and this is unprecedented in December. So what is slowing down the rotting down process?
I'm not sure.
I am still composting couch grass Elymus repens, mare's tail Equisetum arvense, and bindweed Calistegia sepium and these decomposed relatively quickly during the summer and autumn.
Regardless, I am making some very good rough compost that will be ideal for adding to the soil in the allotment. I will give the compost another two weeks or so before using it, turning it every two days or so. It will be sieved through the one inch mesh bread tray before it is used and I will put anything that doesn't go through the holes back into the compost bins. There are some blackcurrant and redcurrant roots that need to be cut up because they are not decomposing very quickly.
I am adding neat comfrey liquid from the comfrey butts behind the large shed because I have no other use for it at the moment.
I will be using the comfrey to make some more inoculated charcoal. I marinate barbeque lump charcoal in comfrey liquid for about three or four months and then crush the lumps with a bull hammer before spreading on the soil. There are several reasons for using charcoal which I have talked about before.
James Barnes, head gardener at Bicton during the Victorian era, used charcoal in his gardening.
I made some charcoal earlier in the year fairly successfully but put this in the compost bins. As I usually bury wood as a trench Hugelkultur, I don't really have any wood to make charcoal out of. I was going to see if I could use the couch grass, mare's tail and bindweed rhizomes but they make such good compost, I don't really want to use them.
I might go around the allotment site and see if anyone has spare wood that they don't want. I am already taking people's weeds to compost!
The M26 apple rootstock has come and I have healed them in at the allotment. I will pot them up during the week, just in garden soil. It is much easier to bench graft than to try to do it when they are in the ground. Also, I like to give them a little protection during their first winter and leave them in the little peach greenhouse. They also need to be protected from my big feet because I have now trodden on three of my grafts and broken them. The one I am most upset about is the Norfolk Pippin.
To avoid this I only plant out if I have the posts and wire to train them to.
The Bardsey, Coeur de Boeuf, Ellis Bitter, Sturmer Pippin, Christmas Pearmain; Mosses Seedling; Court of Wick; Gala, and Kidd's Orange scions have not come yet and I will not be expecting them until March.
However, the Lapin's cherry has come. It is a one year old tree but is not feathered. The rootstock is Gisela 5. I will head it back and prune it as a fan - probably. I may, however, prune it as an espalier. Fans are a little more fiddly. I am going to plant it where the runner beans were last year.
I am digging out the little ditch next to the trackway mainly to remove the weeds. I am filling the ditch with stones and covering them with a thin layer of woody chippings, just for aesthetic reasons.
The idea is to trap water, slow it down and letting it soak into the allotment soil.
The bought sweet pea seeds have not done very well. I have about a 20% germination rate and this is atrocious. I threw some of my own sweet pea seed in a few pots thinking that they would not do well, however they have all germinated and I have more than enough to replace the failures.
Next year, I will not buy any sweet pea seeds, just keeping and sowing my own. I am slowly transplanting my seedlings into root trainers. I will leave them in the greenhouse until I plant them in the ground during March next year.