Monday, 23 June 2014

Getting things ship shape

We both had a week off work recently week, so we 'set to' down at the lotty. The weather was kind most of the time, and we got loads done.

We'd already dug a bed, and tilled it and planted in it, as mentioned in our previous posting; and the spuds from 2 years ago were growing away like mad, so they had to go. Basically there was a huge section that we hadn't dug over last year and we wanted to do it all, to uncompact the ground and make it usable again.

So we dug, and turned, and added manure, and dug some more, and tilled, and dug and dug and dug! But now the vast majority of the plot, all the current growing area, is dug over and tilled, and fed with horse, cow and chicken poo. We'd like to sort out the work area at the fence end of the plot, but we sprayed all the nettles and other weeds there, so need to wait for those to die down before tackling that section.

The problem we have is the clay soil, which after a day of sunshine turns into rocks - and we struggle to break it down into a fine tilth. Thankfully there is a water supply on site, a little addition of water makes the clay easier to break down, but too much turns it into a sticky muddy mess... Hopefully a few years of good horse muck and compost will help to improve the condition of the soil.

During our week off we also made some structures, to cover the brassicas - we bought red cabbages and cauli plants from Dundry, and planted them under debris netting to keep the Peskys off them, and we have sown winter cabbages and swedes and cauli in the greenhouse, and have made structures for them out of debris netting and blue water pipes cut to size.

After all our work the lotty is totally up to scratch, and the structures are in place ready for the plants that aren't ready yet. Feeling very satisfied.

I'd lost my little courgette plant to the slugs in the back garden so chitted some more seeds in the airing cupboard, I now have 8 healthy plants and space for 3... will see if anyone in work wants any. If not they will go into the compost bin. As long as I'm not too late... Hopefully things will catch up after our late start.

Chitting is a method I'd not used before, but I will definitely try it again, as it means I am only sowing live seeds. Take a sealable plastic tub (like takeaway tubs) and place some kitchen roll in the bottom, dampen it, place your seeds on there (bigger seeds are better, courgettes, beans, sweetcorn, etc) and seal tightly. Place your little parcel in a warm place (I use the airing cupboard) for a few days - after about 4 or 5 days you should have lovely chitted seeds with roots sprouting. Simply carefully sow them in compost and after a few days the seeds should be showing signs of life above the surface.

Oh and the peas and broad beans we sowed at the beginning of our holiday are appearing above ground :-) Happy days.

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