A quick search in the wardrobe located a cheap cycling waterproof, which I seem to remember paying a fiver for in Lidl, Saltcoats. It's ideal for the allotment as the weather worsens, (though the day-glo orange colour makes me feel a bit conspicuous). So last night I was able to work for a couple of hours despite a fine drizzle.
Not that I achieved much. The plan was to burn all the rotten wood I'd taken out of the ridiculous layers of "fencing" at the southern end. Several times since I started back in June I've re-learned the lesson: don't even bloody try to light a bonfire with damp wood and a few old Magnum boxes - you need a lot of newspaper, and dry kindling, failing which some kind of inflammable liquid, (though, I doubt I'll get barbecue lighting fluid at a supermarket, this weather). Spent nearly an hour fanning a pile of damp twigs, experiencing absurd hope as things seemed to go from smouldering to actual flames, disappointment and fearful curses as they went back to a soggy smoulder.
On the positive side, the compost cage has kept the rats out. Hitherto, when I'd chucked Sunday's kitchen waste (tattie peelings, etc) on to the old heap, it was gone by Monday, no doubt snaffled by the rats overnight. But the stuff in the cage has survived the night unmolested. My twitter pal Cliff has suggested insulating the cage with corrugated cardboard, and I'll do that when I get some. Something he mentioned I've heard before, that earthworms just luerve the glue in corrugated cardboard.
Speaking of earthworms. I saw very few when I dug over the North East bed back in June. But there were more (though they weren't plentiful) when I dug over the NW bed last month. Maybe the colder weather was bringing them to the surface. Or maybe it was the fact the ground was being cultivated. I saw a big fat one when I was digging a foundation for the compost cage, and that's on the NE bed.
After giving up on the bonfire, I decided to get something productive done before dark, and so I moved a heap of rubble from the NE bed, (which had emerged when digging over the NW bed) to the Frogs' Winter Palace; and moved a big pile of perennial weed roots and other bits of old wood (which I'd also gathered when digging) up to the southern end ready for the bonfire. Burning's all you can do with ground-elder roots. Assuming you can get a fire started...
Oh yeah, and the beans, bloody hell. When they germinate, they really germinate. This is how they looked a few days ago, and they're continuing to grow. Never grown winter field beans before, so I'll keep an eye on their progress. Essentially, the story so far: planted about 2in deep in rows about 10in apart, quite thick in the rows (2-4in). I made a row with the rake, and watered it before sowing the beans. Then covered them, and tamped down with the rake. Germination took nearly 3 weeks, but seems to be pretty uniform and almost 100%.