Monday, October 05, 2015

Continuing to Dig It

This NW bed is a little less than 5 yards by (about) 18, and I'm halfway through digging it over and planting it with the winter field beans. It's the first time in years I've dug over a large-ish area. I keep hearing Dad's most repeated bit of allotmenteering wisdom, "Don't sicken yourself", (often accompanied by anecdotes of fellas he's known who take over a neglected allotment, and go at it for a fortnight "like mad men" and then get disillusioned and give up. 

So, in an hour and a half of actual digging and planting, which is the usual amount of time I spend, I dig over an area about four or five feet, by fifteen, and plant out between three and five rows of field beans. The methodology is, dig it over, chopping up the soil with the spade (or fork on heavier bits). Some of it is light clay, a blue-ish earth I've never encountered before, the Tyneside clay being more orange (and heavier). A lot of the soil is stuff from the great mounds I levelled onto this area, which had perhaps once been compost heaps, because there's a lot of humous in the there. 

Then I'll go at the area to be planted with the back of the rake, breaking up the lumps, especially of soil with clay in it. And then with the rake, make a wee trench a couple of inches deep, water it, (1 gallon does a 15 foot row), put the beans in quite thickly, just 2-6 inches apart, and then cover them and tamp them down. And then resume digging for the next row. I don't know yet if this is good methodology, because as of yesterday afternoon, none of the beans has germinated - I sowed the first row on Thursday last week, I think, so that's four days.  

At this rate, depending on the weather, I should finish this bed next weekend. I could do with some rain for the beans, but rain would slow me down with the digging, so heigh ho to that. Which is slower than planned and my intention to get the whole allotment dug over and planted with beans by November is now looking over-optimistic. A lot depends on the weather. I'll not be able to level and dig over the southern end if we have a really cold wet winter. 

So I might need to reassess priorities, and finish the digging and levelling in the early spring. Here's a readjusted list of Things to Do:
  1. Dig over NW bed and plant with winter field beans. (half done)
  2. Clear old greenhouse foundations. (on west side only?)
  3. Prune and move fruit bushes
  4. Dig over NE bed and plant with winter field beans
  5. Clear old greenhouse foundations on east side
  6. Empty and demolish old "shed"
  7. Level and dig over southern end, plant with winter field beans.
  8. Plant hedgerow.
  9. Extend path to southern boundary. 
  10. Dig pond.
  11. Erect shed.
  12. Erect poly-tunnel 
  13. Clear the old midden.
I'm putting off doing anything much on the East side because it's planted now with borage, phacelia and comfrey. The bees, (honey, bumble and solitary) and other insects are absolutely loving all of them, and I'm loth to destroy their food source. It's probably also a good environment for the frogs, whose habitats I have cleared when getting rid of weeds and cutting back the fruit bushes. Also, I want to get a load of seeds from the borage and phacelia for next year. Borage in particular is a lovely wee plant to sow in any unoccupied corner. 

Thinking of the frogs, I'm going to have to establish some stone and wood piles for them to hibernate, quite soon, in a place where I won't be for shifting them until spring. I could put them on the auld midden, I suppose, and put off dealing with that for now. And by the time they wake up, there'll be a pond ready for them to spawn in. I'm really keen to encourage slug-eating frogs. 

Hardly see any slugs. But I'm seeing more earthworms.