Thursday, March 03, 2016

Bulrush, comfrey, rhubarb...

So that was a good day, today. Got to allotment sharpish, after going to the SE Glasgow Post Office Sorting Depot, (bloody miles away, as it happens, in Fullarton Drive, other side of the M74) to collect my bare rooted Typha latifolia. 

Planting the bulrushes was 1st order of business. They were well packaged, safe but not suffocated, and damp. I’d paid for 5 from someone on eBay, but in the event there were 7. The size and shape and bristly roots reminded me of very large prawns. I planted 4 of them on the pond margins, and the smallest 3 I planted in a pot, which I set out in a deeper margin.

I still don’t know how the pond’s going to behave over the growing season, it all depends on the weather. So far, it seems, just a few hours steady rain will fill it. 3 or 4 dry days will drop the level down to the hard boulder clay at the bottom, less than 1ft of water. I suppose that too could go, lost to evaporation, if we have more than a week without rain, which might be a disaster from a frogspawn or tadpole point of view, and would mean that the earth around the bulrushes might dry out. We shall see.

Today, though, it was almost full, a couple of inches below the level where it overflows into the Council drain. I dug a bit around the edges, making it look more oval when it’s nearly full, making sure the new edge had a “beach”.
NE bed, since raked and hoed. That's the rediscovered path.

Then I went to the other end of the NE bed, which ends at the old (rediscovered) brick path, raked and hoed most of the nettle roots and other debris out, leveled it somewhat, and the dug a trench right along the old path for the comfrey. Amongst the heap of resting plants at the north end, I found 9 comfrey, already budding; (I’d thought there were 12 - no doubt the 3 stragglers will show up). I planted them right next to the old path’s edge, hopefully thereby preventing any weeds from getting the benefit of edge-effect.

Next, planted the 2 rhubarb plants I’ve inherited. One of them had been in a plastic bucket, over which the tarpaulin from the S end fence had fallen, (the S end fence tarpaulin is a whole other story). Somehow, one great stalk of rhubarb (about 4 or 5ft) managed to find its way past the tarp, and get enough light for the plant to survive. The other plant, I can’t remember where it was, but have a feeling it was in similarly desperate straits.

I dug a trench between the pond and the path, about 1ft deep, and filled the bottom 3ins with well-rotted oomska. I filled the rest with earth, and trod it well down in my wellies. Then I watered them in with comfrey-tea. They too were already sprouting. We’re not big on rhubarb in our house, but I’ll have a go at making wine or jam or some blessed thing. And I put the rhubarb by the pond so that the big leaves can give cover to froglets.

Ran out of time before I could make a start on planting the fruit bushes, the first element of the hedgerow. That’s for the weekend. Can see where I’m going now, and both of the N end beds could be readied for planting in a few hours, the leveling is almost done. The rotation scheme will be tweaked slightly to have the spuds in one of those beds - probably the NW, which has had the winter field beans, [do spuds like nitrogen?]. And may as well put the legumes in the NE bed, which had phacelia last year, giving plenty of organic matter but not nitrogen.

Lovely sunny and quite mild day. Spring is in the air, as the wee sprouts of growth on the rhubarb and comfrey told me. Jenny wren was getting something from amongst the oomska, a bloodworm maybe. The dunnock was in the heap of firewood, (the robin, christened Mrs Robinson, goes in there too, must be a supply of invertebrates). And a magpie came down and got something from the pond margin.