Monday, March 21, 2016

A tattie patch in the Springtime

Good day yesterday, the first day at allotment for a week, which apart from Christmas hols is about the longest I've been away. The pond was almost dry, (no rain for nearly a fortnight), so I took the opportunity to excavate one of the pools a little deeper, getting a barrowload of silt, and digging down a spit or so (over a small area, about 1ft sq) into the boulder clay.

Evidence that the pond will indeed go dry after a couple of weeks is disappointing for the amphibian hopes I had for it. Heigh ho. It's still likely to be a massive resource for invertebrate diversity. Yesterday, there was some kind of bee or wasp visiting the sludge at the bottom in numbers, don't know what it was doing exactly. Lots of other smaller flying insects showing an interest, too.

I got at the last of the old fruit bush bed, clearing the tattie patch. It still wants raked level, the (mostly nettle) roots raked out, and dug over, but assuming I get the submission for the doctorate finished today, I should get the first of the tatties in by Wednesday, and likely the whole bed planted out by the end of the Easter Weekend.

Notice I'm digging it over, despite the no-dig regime I'm going for. I think digging will be necessary this spring. And it'll do no harm, the beds have been shuggled around so much, they are unlikely to have anything much in the way of soil structure. The 2 Northern beds are a mixture of their original soil, the good loamy soil from the banks of earth which stood at the northern boundary, the good loamy soil from the fruit bush area, the clay soil from under the path, and boulder clay from the subsoil. All good stuff when it's mixed together with oomska.

So, the plan is, NE bed dug over for tatties. Come the autumn and lifting the last tatties, I'll spread garden lime, scatter winter field beans, and mulch with 2ins of oomska, which should be 3/4 rotted by then, enough at any rate to let the field beans grown through it.  Similar procedure with the other beds, though unsure of the details as yet.

Other jobs yesterday: re-established the working compost heap in the NE corner, with ash poles around it. A week's worth of household waste, topped off by a barrow full of oomska to get it all started. It's a couple of yards from the pond, and I seem to remember reading somewhere that that was a good thing in terms of eco-diversity: some invertebrates would spend part of their life cycle in water, and another in compost.

Then I made a start on grubbing away the heaped up nettle-root filled earth at the SW corner, where the woodpile and 2 ton oomska heap will go. The woodpile cheek-by-jowl with a big heap of shit should be yet another marvellous invertebrate resource.