Saturday, 5 July 2014
Digging holes, my way
The technique I have adopted starts by digging a hole. I have talked to some people on the allotments who have reported how hard the ground is, some using the term "impossibly hard". Well, I can't think my plot is any harder or softer. In fact the pit I just re-filled was full of packed clay. Given the ground was covered with grass, which a week ago I had strimmed, I found the best starting point was to skim just below the grass with my trusty spade. Once below the grass, apart from areas of arguably pure clay, the ground had moisture enough to make digging quite reasonable. The biggest problem for this piece of earth was a quantity of stones, and no spade can get through a stone, no matter how damp the weather.
To help find the weeds I keep looking for lumps of soil. Weeds act as the binding agent, thus if there is a lump of soil, then typically inside it is part of a weed. I generally stop digging when I am about a spade and half deep, but that all depends on what deep roots I am finding. Whatever the depth any large root is coming out, one way or another.
It then remains to begin to refill the hole. I do this with either spade or rake to help draw the soil back down all the time filtering out weeds, however large or small.
There is no such thing as a totally weed-free. However providing I have got rid of all the big roots and as many of the smaller weeds as I can then that's my limit. When the hole is nearly full again I start adding some compost to help build some fresh nutrition. Topping off with a last layer of soil, and I am ready for planting.
I do not say my technique is right, the easiest or even the best. But it is my way and so far any plants I have planted seem to be growing in both reasonably weed-free soil and also the soil is easy to dig to get out any small weeds that will appear.
In this ex-hole I planted twelve beetroot plants.