Tuesday, April 25, 2017
5th Bed: Rake, Riddle, Dig, Repeat...
A lot of last weekend was spent working this 5th bed. The methodology: rake the surface, getting glass, stones, bits of wood and a certain amount of earth into heaps. Riddle the heaps through the medium riddle into the barrow. Riddle that by hand to get out the gravel, (there's a LOT of gravel in it). If you look closely, you can see 5 heaps all waiting to be riddled. This is the second going over with the riddle.
When I've done those 5 heaps, I'll rake it all over again. It's surprising how much gets missed. When I'm fairly sure there's no more glass and other debris on the surface, I'll dig it all over and repeat the raking and riddling. And then probably dig it all over again, and again repeat the riddling and raking.
When I've got a reasonable tilth, spread on 2-3ins of oomska, then the riddled topsoil, and then sow with a green manure, probably the clover seed I've found a bagful of. Probably winter field beans on in September, and more oomska. Voila: 60sq metres of ground with a good tilth for no dig gardening in 2018.
Easier said than done, mind. It's tedious work. I'm kept going by the thought that this whole area has been left as waste for decades, and that I'm doing a good job in at last bringing it back to life. The soil itself isn't so bad: years of weeds at least lay down organic material, so the clay has plenty of loam. Unfortunately it also has plenty of glass and stones through it. Heigh bloomin' ho.
And I'm cognizant of the fact that this is No.5 bed. Nos. 1-4 still want work. No. 1 is covered in heaps of oomska, kindling, and riddled earth now. I got the heavy rubble out of it some time ago with the grubbing hoe, but it's never been properly dug over. No. 2 is under tarpaulin. It's been dug over but never given a good-old rake and riddle.
Ditto 3, which has the garlic, an as yet unplanted tattie patch, and another pile of oomska. No. 4 has the winter field beans, growing until they crop, and had the tatties in it last year, so it shouldn't take too much work before next year.
I'm consoled by the thought that all of this graft is keeping me fit, and that this time next year I'll actually be gardening.