Monday, December 14, 2015

Frost and Whisky of a Sunday

First real frost of the winter. To the left is a photo of the cuttings from the fruit bushes, which I'm leaving put until spring, as a refuge for anything that needs it over the cold months, and then it'll be firewood. The allotment I used to share with Dad, when I moved north of the border he started to share with a family. They're bloody good gardeners. Disapprove of glyphosate, yet there's not a weed in sight. Anyway, one of them makes wood burning stoves out of calor gas bottles. I've put in a request for one, and that's what all this wood is for. Of course, I have to sort the shed out before I can put a stove in, and I'm too busy now to be drinking tea. But next winter will be slower.

The ground was frozen, but only and inch or two down. So I set about the fruit bushes again. It's a bugger. My theory of what's happened is: bushes were planted some years ago, and everything was fine. But when The Predecessor, (I'm going to refer to him as P hereinafter), started to get on a bit, he stopped raking up the leaves and pruning the bushes. Leaf mould from them, and from the cherry trees, began to build up.  The bushes stems got buried, and started to send out new root systems. Whole branches are buried and rooted. What this means is, when you try to dig them out, you've got two or more root systems to fight against. In addition, in the central area where the trees are, the bushes roots have got tangled with the trees, (in addition to each others' and the nettle root systems).

As you can see, this sometimes involved serious excavations to get them out. Much grunting and cursing, too. And look at the moss on the base of the cherry trees. My theory about them is, there were once two proper horticultural cherries, which were chopped down. What you can see in the photo are the shoots that have come from the rootstock, and are probably therefore wild cherries, (I don't know because the fruit they gave this autumn was 20ft in the sky, food for the birds.) But that's ok as they're just going to be part of a hedge. I've ordered a bow saw off of eBay, and the stumps are coming down soon. I expect lots of suckers to then pop up from the roots. And I need to lower the level of the earth around them. Actually, it's mostly very old leaf mould, excellent soil. Still lots of nettle roots there, nettles seem to love quality soil. I'll grub them up before moving the leaf mould/soil to the west bed. I'm all for letting a few nettles grow anyway, for the butterflies. 

It was good to be out there yesterday, the labour kept me warm, and there wasn't a soul around. Every couple of hours I spend, I get a little further on with it, another tiny step on the road to getting a fully functioning allotment. And of course, after a couple of hours working in the frost, a chap is entitled to a nice glass of Jura malt whisky in the pub. This is Scotland, after all...