Saturday, October 08, 2016

100 get fresh egg in earth. (4)

Also, the garlic wants planting in the next week or so. As well as the Carcassonne wight hardneck, there's Picardy wight softneck.  That's in the North West bed, brassicas last year, (there are still neeps in it, doing very well, we should have 1 a week up until Xmas), and roots/alliums next year. I'll harvest the garlic in May, or thereabouts, and then riddle that bit of the bed before sowing carrots and/or parsnips. Which is how I'm going to proceed next year: riddle ground between crops in the summer, when it's dried somewhat.

That's because I've learned that riddling with wet clay is bloomin' hard work, slow.  Mind, the West beds have soil from all over, including the yellow subsoil clay that came up from the pond and the drain beneath the path. And it's another job which I stupidly put off with my own no-dig can-do overnight delusions, (it's going to have to wait until the whole plot's riddled, years). The job I didn't do was dig over the all of the Mid and North West beds, except the two ends which were cultivated, maybe 25% of the total. So there's clay still in lumps as big as an orange.

Which is fine for the soil in the long run, when it all breaks down. But in the riddle lumps of clay get rubbed round by the pebbles, and gets a coating of powdery soil, and so becomes indistinguishable from a bit of gravel or pebble. It's been modelling clay consistency.

So you need to rub the contents of the riddle hard with your hand, (takes a bit of juggling, because you've now got to hold the riddle, quite heavy with stones, in just one hand), once you've gotten rid of the loose soil, and the smaller spherical bits of clay get rubbed through the grid by the stones. Bigger bits, bigger than the end of your thumb, don't become spherical, kind of plum shaped, and you learn to spot them. I put them through the riddle by rubbing them at the grid, using it like a cheese grater. 

It's making for a lovely basic soil, a mixture of clay, organic matter and grit, in particles no bigger than 1/8in. This is all "extra" soil, mind: taken from the old greenhouse, where it was 6-8ins deep on what had been a greenhouse floor, from the wee mound of earth and rubble at the East end of the old greenhouse, what I used to call the midden, and the pile of earth and rubble on the West beds, which is where the clay comes from.

I've got a decent pile of riddled topsoil now, about 7 or 8 barrows-full. It takes an hour - or so it seems - to fill a barrow. I'd estimate, in total, I've got at least another 20 barrows-full to do. Needs must. I've got really good earth here, spoiled by all the rubble and glass. This extra soil will of course be perfect for the raised beds. In fact, the raised beds which I sneered at not that long ago have become a perfect solution to what I do with all of the extra soil.