Resistance Is Futile
0 comment Thursday, October 16, 2014 |
I know, I know, I'm posting like a madwoman today, but the excitement has been huge.
I did very little work yesterday - Easter break is coming up and I need to conserve my energy. If I exert myself for a few hours, I pay for it for days. But I just couldn't resist; the raised bed was calling me, and the mound of soil before the bed just seemed like it would be perfect for straightening up my rugosa hedge next to the fence.
So, bright and early after losing an hour to daylight savings (and what of it? I'm used to being up at 6am) I was out with shovel in hand and I set to.
I wasn't convinced about the small path leading to the raised bed with mounds on either side; honestly, I think they just really didn't want to try digging that hill by hand, and I certainly could not blame them. There were four men out there and they could barely get the ground to shift. It's horrible soil; clay, flint, chalk. They managed to break it up with pickaxes but it was still backbreaking and the whole process took five hours. We're apparently going to get pummelled with rain over the next few days and I wanted to get things sorted out before the rain packed everything down again. So I decided to make a flat walkway with a bit of soil in between this and the patio space, either to be packed down or turned into a small planted "strip".The roses have always needed a tidy; when I tried putting them in last year I was so dismayed at how impossible it was to dig into the ground here, so I know exactly what the gents were going through yesterday! However, their efforts had loosened up plenty of ground, and I just shovelled this in round the rugosas, straightening out some of the leaning stems and packing the earth in. Roses are amazing plants - they are very much coddled usually; fertilised and trimmed and fussed over, but when left to their own devices they can survive for ages in some really horrible conditions that would kill other plants. I adore not only their beauty and fragrance, but their hardiness to withstand just about everything nature throws at them. So even though there's nothing but clay, flint soil round them, I know these rugosas will be just fine.
Vegetables however are a different story! The raised bed was now full up with clay soil left over from digging the patio space, so I started to break up the clods. I only had one bag of compost left - and even that compost, though rich, is incredibly dense. Inspiration struck, however as I remembered the sharp builder's sand left over! I started hauling buckets of the stuff from the front to the back, and then mixed it in with the clay, picking out the larger stones as I went, as well as any weeds and grass I could find. Then I went up to my compost heap and I raked out as much compost as I could get to, even some that was still composting (this went into the pea-bean area) and mixed that, giving it a good forking over. As I went, I tromped back and forth to try and make a relatively level space underfoot next to the raised bed, so I could get from one side of the bed to the other without needing to lean or strain myself - important both for me and also my young son.
I managed to mix in a fair bit of sand, organic matter and even left some furroughs which are almost all sand - primarily for growing carrots, which might struggle in the soil otherwise. Over this, I've spread the bagged compost, digging it in, and then covering the top with a thin layer. It's by no means "done" - clay soil can be a right bugger, and what I think I will do is just turn the whole garden under, burying any plants that have bolted, cutting the peas and beans at ground level and then digging them in, and at the end of the season when nearly everything is out, add any more sand that I have left. Adding compost will be a year-long thing, but that's what the compost bin is for, and so I'll keep at it.
I couldn't resist laying the cut ash canes to mark out the pea/bean area, and I planted out the strongest of the leeks - about three rows worth. Since the soil has warmed nicely, I also put in a row of assorted baby leaf lettuce seeds to get them underway as I've started buying lettuce for salads as the taste for them has returned, but of course there's the option of just growing my own!
I did all this in about two hours and I suspect I'm going to spend a portion of tomorrow wondering what I was thinking! But I so wanted that bed ready for the Easter break, when sprog and I can start planting some more seeds and get to digging in dirt together.

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