Escaped the dreaded computer and headed off to the plot just after 3pm on Wednesday. A sort of sunshine and shade day but the wind was pretty cold. Still, nothing like some physical labour to warm you up.
First job to tackle was to plant the asparagus crowns I bought the other day. The plan was to go into the second deep bed on plot five but I forgot that I’d planted some shallots in there! So the third deep bed, which catches a little more sun anyway, is now the permanent asparagus bed.
When I did the bed originally, I rough dug it and then piled the green waste compost on the top, leaving it mounded to sink down. Well, it didn’t sink as much as I expected so the excess was shovelled onto the neighbouring bed. Once it was about level, it was time to get the Mantis tiller out.
Now I’m not mechanical and treat my rotovators roughly, they get stuck in the shed and fuel is the only luxury they get. So the Mantis started second pull after its winter break. Brilliant.
I must admit, I don’t know how I’d cope without the rotovators. The Merry Tiller (the big ‘un) is great for breaking up the heavy soil in large areas but the Mantis is just brilliant for getting a fine tilth and is so light and easy to manoeuvre in a cramped area like a raised bed. It’s great for other tasks as well, like pulling a trench of fine soil prior to planting the potatoes.
I went over the bed, mixing the compost and soil thoroughly before planting the asparagus crowns out. I’d got nine crowns which worked out perfectly for 16″ spacings in the bed which is 4 metres long.
The ideal length for a raised bed is, as everyone not in TV land knows, is 10 feet but that’s the width of the plot. Lots of things in gardening, as in life, are compromise and it worked better for me that way.
Planting First Early Potatoes
I know a lot of people have their potatoes in now but I don’t think my being late will make much difference until things warm a bit more. Anyway, planted three tubers of first early Swift into the raised bed with a coldframe. I think they’ll get off well in there so they’ll keep us going until the rest come in.
Digging Over Plot 5
Took a five minute break and then determined to finish digging over plot five so it will be ready to rotovate soon. Despite all the composts and organic matter the plot has had, the soil is still heavy and even the Merry Tiller won’t get into it unless it’s broken up. Hence my single digging, well actually one and a half spit deep digging over prior.
It doesn’t sound a lot when you read that paragraph, but it took me 3 hours with just a few 10 minute breaks. Some bits were really hard, had to stand on the spade to get it to go in, despite the soil being quite wet. The old leek bed, however, was lovely and crumbly.
All in all, I had about 5 hours down there. To say I was tired would be an understatement. Usually I grab a sandwich when I get home from the plot but, despite the aroma of fresh baked bread when I got in, I flopped onto the settee with a beer and gradually seized up!
Thursday and I got down onto the plot around 5pm but only for an hour and a half. Started tidying up the bed beside the greenhouse on plot 29 but, to be honest, I’m still aching a bit from yesterday! The spirit is more willing than the back.
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