Sunday, 5 March 2017

Finishing off the hugelkultur in the potato bed.

Due to the inclement weather recently, which has cost me the roof of the peach greenhouse, I have not been able to complete the hugelkultur I started a couple of weeks ago.

The was no rush to finish it but I wanted to make sure that I had enough time to prepare some of the other beds for planting and sowing.

I had to clean the crumbs out of the bottom of the trench because the rain had washed the sides in.  Two spits of top soil were taken out of the trench and put onto the side in separate piles.  The bottom of the trench was carefully forked over another spit deep.

Then brushwood, weeds, crop residues, and logs were put into the bottom.  Composted woody shreddings were then put over the logs until the trench was nearly filled.  I got the woody shreddings from under the frames.  I moved the frames in front of the greenhouse, which will be their permanent location for the rest of the season.  Quite a few of the lettuces were still growing well but not big enough to make a sizeable meal yet.  I decided to put them into the frames about a foot apart to grow on into the spring. The radish, which was still growing well and forming good roots, I have taken home to eat.

I will have plenty of composted woody shreddings so I will not have to use any of the fresh material in the piles by the gate.

I have planted several of last year's grafts alongside the growing beds but not put espalier posts in to train them to.  I was going to have to buy them from Dobbies.  One of the blokes along the way is giving up his allotment and he came over to see if I wanted to take some of the stuff off his allotment so he did not have to take it home or to the tip.

There were several good posts which I could use to make espaliers out of plus more that I can use to support the sweet peas.  Sometimes you just need to about at the right time on the allotments.

Fetching the stuff off his allotment meant that I did not have time to complete the hugelkultur.  It just needs filling in with the topsoil now.  Although the hugelkultur will be raised I will still plant across it.  The high end alongside the espaliered fruit trees.

I have  made he high side two feet away from the trees so the base of their trunks will not be buried in the mound.  I will slope the other side into the growing bed so that I can plant at right angles to the trench.  This is so  I am able to plant the potatoes northish and southish and get the full benefit of the warmth and light from the sun.  It will also enable me to see the effect of the hugelkultur because the potato row will start on the raised area and go down into the ordinary soil of the bed.

While doing all of this, I have continued to turn the compost bins and even though they have not really become very hot during the winter, they have produced some reasonable compost.  I am going to sieve it and put it onto the top soil piles before they go into the hugelkultur trench.  It will mix in with the topsoil as I drag the soil in.

I have also planted the garlic, elephant garlic, shallots and red onions in the allium bed.  I still need to plant the onions but that can be done tomorrow.  I am planting them in planned four foot beds with a two foot shredded woody material path between them.  I am only putting a thin layer of shreddings down for the path because I did get some nitrogen drawdown last season.  Digging a trench and filling it with shreddings for paths is a little excessive.  Four or five centimeters is more than enough to keep feet clean and dry.

Furthermore, I have put concrete reinforcing wire over the pond to make it a little safer for the grandchildren.  I thought afterwards that it will be difficult to get a net through the mesh but I am not going to take it up now.  I will have to put the wire through a pipe to prevent the mesh from breaking it.  I took the opportunity to clean out the bottom of the pond and put the sludge on the compost heap with the thinnings of the water plants.  The mint around the sides of the pond have been cut back quite hard and I have taken out some of the other plants.  More rocks have been put around to cover the plastic sides.  I looks a little more presentable now and will look good in the summer when all the plants grow up.

So really, I have a good excuse for not finishing off the hugelkultur - as well as the rain.

So if the rain keeps off I will complete the hugelkultur tomorrow and then go onto planting onions.  I may use some of the composted shreddings to mulch the onions with.  They did particularly well with fresh shredding mulch last year.  I will also cover all the alliums with scaffold netting.

It was a lovely day today but rain is forecast again for tomorrow.