Sunday, 15 June 2014

At last my plot gets some attention

I started my plot almost a year and a half ago. Family commitments kept me away until very recently. So apart from strimming weeds not much was done. We had found  time to plant a herb garden and also created a small crop of both potatoes and onions. Finally our first year was rounded off with a bumper harvest of apples: that however required no effort, it just happened, being a good year for the three apple trees on my plot.  During the early part of this year looked like it was going to follow a similar pattern, but instead I now seem to be down my plot two hours a day from what seems like three days or more each week. An opportunity to get something done and at last my plot is getting some love.

But what to do? As a result of neglect my plot is inundated with weeds.  A very low point for me last year was hiring a digger in an attempt to clear some space fast for growing something. That did not work for at least two reasons. Firstly the only day I seemed to manage was very wet and also my plot was so ravaged by weeds that even a digger was a waste of time.  So this time I decided that whatever I did I was going to do it with spade and fork. It might be slower but at least I will begin to understand my plot., my soil and my plants.

In for a penny, I elected to work the very worst part of the plot first. This is the area at the back and was blighted by weeds. In with the spade I just started digging. My first goal was to tackle the biggest weeds.  These were both tall, and as I soon found out deep. Very soon my plot began to look as if bombs had dropped all over it with gaping holes everywhere making walking around a treacherous affair.

I quickly filled two "compost" bins with weeds. And then over the days that followed re-filled them time and time again. So many weeds! I began to read on the Internet about double-digging and realised that in this worst of areas some of the roots had gone very deep, in fact I felt as if I was even treble - digging in some places. In my mind I reassured myself that my goal was to clear weeds and felt if that was my task then I would do it as well as I could.

With a landscape looking more like Snowdonia I realised I had in fact dug a lot of weeds, but.. Another Internet search about clearing weeds and I learnt a bit of jargon. Rhizomes are the smaller strands of weeds running from the main root system.  New ones near the surface tend to be coloured white. Getting rid of as many of them as possible is very important since these rhizomes can quickly generate new weeds.

Suddenly I was beginning to feel had in fact cleared an area sufficient to plant something. Not only had I disposed of a lot of weeds, but more importantly what was left looked like good soil.

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