31 March 2012

March back garden

My back garden often looks it's best in the early spring ,with the new growth standing out against the barer surroundings.
The "upper terracing"
Tete a tete daffodils parked up waiting for a permanent home

The old pond area is gradually being won back from nettles and brambles

I'm rationalising the raised beds now that I've got the allotment.The three on the lower tier are becoming more like potagers to grow some soft fruit plus a mix of salad and chard leaves,lettuce and dwarf beans.

Angled rows of dwarf broad beans,silver beet and spring onions,with gooseberry and rasperry bushes.Gaps will be filled with french beans and more salad leaves
I'd already turned one of the three upper tier beds over to asparagus last year.In the other small one I'm experimenting with early peas,lettuce and leaves sown in mid March under a dust sheet cloche.I planted up part of the larger middle one with garlic at the same time, and a couple of days ago sowed the rest of it with dwarf curly kale, summer calabrese and purple sprouting broccoli for transplanting to the allotment later on.This is also under a dust sheet cloche.

It's now back to work on the allotment.Just starting on the very clayey section which I'll try to win bit by bit.
We now have a full complement of plot holders,7 in total, which means that the precise plot boundaries can be formally  marked out this weekend.

28 March 2012

Talking horse manure

Trying to think of a polite title for this post.

With only a few minutes notice my friends Nadene and Phil dropped of a trailer load of horse manure in the fading light yesterday evening. It's produced by their Icelandic ponies.

Hopefully this will be a regular delivery.
It's fairly fresh stuff so isn't immediately suited for all purposes.From experience I know that it makes great hot beds for courgettes.

27 March 2012

A quarter of the way down the plot

I've now managed to get the top quarter section of the plot almost ready for planting.After initially working down this section clearing out roots and debris I've now dug back up the other way with the azada finding lots more of the same.

In the right hand background Martin is working on his and Alison's plot

You'll see that I've taped round to protect it from wandering feet.Ok at the moment it does look a bit like a building site, but fairly soon I'll be replacing the stakes and tape with something more aesthetically pleasing.

I should be able to get 5 wide walking rows in across here ready for planting up around Easter time.

The next section includes an area of almost solid clay which could prove challenging. I might not dig over the worst of it ,and at least for the timebeing have a composting area ,water buts and fabric planters here.

25 March 2012

This blessed plot

....."This other Eden, demi-paradise....".

Martin produced the detailed drawing this morning and as my plot abuts the measuring points it meant that I could mark out the approximate area fairly quickly.

The plots are being measured from scaffolding poles at my end of the site

 The plot is just over 20 metres deep so I've put markers in every 5 metres to chart my progress.

It's a bit frustrating to still be short of the first marker but this is partly due to a change of technique from grubbing out smallish roots with the right angle fork to deeper trenching with the azada.
This is producing a wider range of finds including limestone,bricks, old bits of metal machinery and rotting timber.

It's been very warm today but I'm now relaxing with a beer.Life is good.

Surveying Saturday

Up until now we have been working from sketch plans but today we were able to call upon the professional services of Martin's Uncle Alan to survey the land with his theodolite.
They measured up the whole site (perimeter,areas of hard standing,and growing land) and now have the figures to be able to draw up an accurate plan to scale.

As the last time I used a theodolite was in the first year of my general surveying diploma course at Newcastle Polytechnic in 1970 I decide to leave them to it!

I've made an exploratory start on my potential plot at the far end of the site,using my new azada and right angle fork.
Azada and right angle fork next to my raised beds at home

 The furrows have dried out and are breaking down fairly easily.Not surprisingly there's plenty of root matter to pick out each time the soil is turned over.

Martin and I managed to produce this fairly clean patch of soil on Friday evening with my tools and then a forking over

A bit more done on Saturday

21 March 2012

How about this for raised bed gardening

Some photos that I took on my recent New Zealand trip of Grae's impressive raised beds at Beaconstone Eco Lodge ,an upmarket backpackers south of Westport on the West Coast.

Green manure crop

Although the West Coast is noted for it's high rainfall it does have lots of sunshine too.

A few more shots showing the Lodge and the surrounding coastal bush.

My friend Andrew having an evening cuppa.Why don't we do verandahs in the UK?

Solar powered toilet block

20 March 2012

As I watch'd the ploughman ploughing

Went down to post a letter this morning and saw that Frank had started ploughing. So I grapped my camera and took some photos. Also took some more in the early afternoon when Frank and Mike were just finishing off.

As I Watch’d The Ploughman Ploughing

by Walt Whitman
As I watch’d the ploughman ploughing,
Or the sower sowing in the fields—or the harvester harvesting,
I saw there too, O life and death, your analogies:
(Life, life is the tillage, and Death is the harvest according.)

Time for a bit of morris music!
Speed the Plough

18 March 2012

A bit of moving about

A work party yesterday with Mike using the mini digger to reduce the depth of the banking next to the roadway and a team of allotmenteers barrowing the soil to build up the depth of  some low areas at the far end.
The turning area has also been cleared of soil and debris, so a good tidy up all round ready for ploughing during the week.

16 March 2012

Back the right way up again

No blog posts for the last few weeks as I've been in New Zealand on holiday. However from the various emails I knew that I'd see some changes to the site on my return.

Mike has finished the hedgelaying at the far end and has put up a stockproof fence. Work on the hedge alongside the lane will have to wait until after bird nesting.

A grubber plough has been over the land twice in the last few weeks and large amounts of root matter are gradually being removed ,Andy's chrome proving to be the most effective tool for the job ( chrome photo  taken by Martin)

Hopefully final ploughing can be done next week and the allotments then marked out to start work on our own plots by Easter?