We had a bit of a storm here the other day, which caused some damage to parts of the country, although it was generally not as bad as forecast. Ahead of the storm, which was receiving almost constant news coverage, I wanted to get to the allotment and make sure stuff was going to be as secure as I could make it.
Since a picture says a thousand words, and I could easily use several, I’ve tried a bit of a new thing, which will also remind me of what needs doing and what it all looked like at the beginning.
So that’s the top bed. Ground so wet I’m going to have to get some muck boots to even attempt to do anything with it. My usual boots are still caked in mud after I used a fork to spike some holes and break things up a bit to get the water to drain away. There’s not loads of surface water but along the side of the shed is pretty much impossible to stand on without starting to sink.
Fortunately, spiking some holes had an instant effect on the surface water and I hoped it would help with the load of water that we were forecast to have dumped on us by the storm. I haven’t had the chance to get back and check and see if it did, yet.
Fitting guttering to that shed is going to be fun given how soft the ground is. I may actually have to wait until the first frosts. I’m also going to chuck down a load of the flint I’ve gathered from inside the polytunnel, to try and help with drainage as it’s pretty liquid at the moment.
I’ve identified this bit as the biggest hazard for my feet as putting my foot down wrongly can trigger the arthritis in the joint. Priority number one, really, before the ground goes hard and I’m faced with uneven concrete, is to level this off. I have a cunning plan about how I might do that and solve another problem at the same time.
The whole of the top bed needs to be dug over anyway as the soil is compacted. The solution to this lies in double digging, which I needed to do anyway because the soil’s been left for a decade and a half. It’s going to be hard work and potentially harder on my back, but am just going to have to do sections rather than work across the whole bed, so I can do bits at a time. I’ll keep going until it’s all done. It’ll do me good.
While I do all this I’ll also be levelling off the whole of the bed. I’ll start with this bit and work up towards the shed, so the next thing I can think about is whether I want to put down some paving slabs between the polytunnel and the compost bin. I suspect that I do but I don’t want to create anything which might direct loads of water towards the door of the polytunnel in the event of very heavy rain. So whatever I do is unlikely to be a simple, straight line but I haven’t had the chance to think about what the solution might be or to see what anyone else suggests.
I may very well end up paving a path along the long side of the shed to make siting water butts easier, but that’s not as pressing. Again, I’ll have to be sure that it’s not going to cause problems. The top bed is higher than the bottom one, but as the previous tenant used all the ground from there to the end of the adjoining plot, it can’t be a problem at the moment or I’d see evidence of it and there isn’t anything. So as long as I don’t do something that creates a problem, the difference between the two shouldn’t be an issue. Digging over the top bed will help a bit, and I’m quite likely to take some of the earth into the polytunnel to make some raised beds in there, so eventually I’ll get it sorted out. The ground just needs to be fairly level for now.
I can cope with some lumps and bumps and even ploughed fields, on occasion, but I’ll be spending a lot of time here so I need to minimise risk. If I’m banging on about it, it’s because when your foot wobbles you automatically try to steady yourself, which can mean hurting the joint, and stepping on a stone in exactly the wrong way, even in walking boots, is particularly painful to do, so I’d quite like to avoid it.
As the compost bin was empty, I moved it to a new place and dug it into the ground, before chucking in a decent layer of earth and then adding my first lot of garden waste to start the process. It felt pretty solid after all that, so I really hope it was sheltered enough and full enough to avoid being blown across the allotment.
I could have weeded this bed when I was there but decided not to. The top bed was so wet, the last thing I wanted to do was remove plants that would help hold the soil together on this one. I’ll do that soon, so I can start getting ready to plant the sort of beans that one can plant in November. Varieties that can cope with the winter if you cover them up a bit during the worst weather.
So, having taken some pictures and spiked quite a lot of holes in the ground, I spent more time in the polytunnel. I did more sifting of stones and bits of metal and a bit more weeding. I also checked on the cauliflowers that I’d decided to leave in there because they weren’t entirely dead. I was very pleased to find this: proving that my technique of gentle neglect once again wins out. I think that’s recovering rather nicely.
I’m not sure what size it’ll get to, but even a baby cauli would be great for a first attempt, although I can’t really claim any of the credit. It bodes well, though, that it’s picked up without needing to be sprayed. I just removed any obviously diseased leaves and have been taking the debris out of the polytunnel.
So, that’s where it was last time I was on my plot. I’m going to try and get back tomorrow to check it’s all still there.
1152 words: that’s practically a tweet…