After getting thoroughly chilled on Friday, I really couldn’t face doing much on Saturday although we dropped onto the plot for a few minutes on our way past on Sunday, or relative visiting day.
Monday wasn’t much cop either. The weather was lovely but our poor old cat had to go to the vets and it wasn’t good news. He’s got a tumour in his belly and his days are very numbered.
I’m assured he’s not in pain, but he’s weakening fast so the last vet’s visit is looming in our mind. Luckily they don’t worry about the future and see what’s coming like we do. It doesn’t seem 15 years since we rescued him as his owner had to go into long term hospital care. If you have a pet, you get it. If not, you’ll think me mad.
The afternoon was a large filling in a back tooth. You know you’re getting older when the dentist doesn’t look old enough to have left school! By my definition, she was brilliant. It was fast and didn’t hurt.
Gardener’s World Experiment.
Tuesday was back down to the plot in the afternoon. I was very remiss about the strawberry bed on plot 29 last year. It has both horsetail and couch grass in it and is now almost a solid mass of the grass with the horsetail starting to pop up.
I rescued the strawberries out of it and moved them to the two smaller beds, which will be easier to net and hopefully they’ll be OK. I think they’ve been suffering from the weed competition and will do better on the new clean beds.
Having cleared them out, I commenced shovelling the pile of green waste compost off the main bed over the weeds and Larry came up, being convinced I’d finally lost it. I explained I was handling couch and horsetail just like they do on Gardener’s World and it would be OK.
To say I got an old-fashioned look would not really cover his reaction! Truth is, I need to rotovate the large bed so wanted to move the compost off. I know the couch etc will grow through in short order. I’ll then use a weedkiller to clean the bed out. In an ideal world that would be Amicide but you can’t buy it as a gardener any more and I believe it’s illegal to use it even if you still have some in your shed, so I don’t want to get arrested by the combined forces of DEFRA and the EU by saying I’m using that.
I’ve finally worked out why we so often see the police airplane circling at low level. There’s a crack anti use of illegal weedkillers and pesticides team ready to parachute down with cries of “Place the derris on the ground and back away!”
Mantis & Merry Tiller Rotovating
Knowing from the weather forecast we were getting rain overnight, I planned to rotovate on Wednesday when the soil should be ideal for it. With our clay soil it’s a right game to get the right conditions. Too wet and everything is a claggy mess, too dry and the soil sets like concrete.
First job was the double depth raised bed on plot 5. It has a lot of compost and some soil, which all needed mixing. Up and down with the Mantis and it seemed to be making hard work of things. Larry came over and pointed out the tines were on the weed way around. With the Mantis you can have the tines one way for just cultivating the top of the soil and removing weeds. You reverse them and it will easily go much deeper, sinking into the soil as it breaks it up.
After swapping around the job went a lot faster and better and the bed was quickly finished, levelling with the rake. This bed will have carrots and parsnips. I’m getting very late with the parsnips but better late than never. A short break to recover and out came the Merry Tiller.
Now, to be clear, if you offered me a brand new rotovator as a swap for my 30 year old Merry Tiller, I’d refuse. It’s a solid, tough machine from the days when British engineering meant quality and things weren’t built just to last the guarantee period but for life.
Filled the fuel tank and the Merry Tiller started on the third pull after sitting in the shed over-winter, you can’t complain at that.
Despite the overnight rain, the clods were a bit concrete like in patches. The parts dug over and left for longest were breaking up easily, having had quite a bit of freezing and thawing, but the latest parts were tough. That’s one of the problems of getting behind on the plot, you make more work for yourself catching up.
The tiller did a lot of bouncing on the first pass over the plot and it was quite hard work, to say the least, pulling at my arms as it tried to run away. The second and third passes were easier but I think it will take another couple of passes to be right.
Having run out of petrol and time getting on, decided to call it a day with rotovating.
Planting Broad Beans.
I’d sown some broad beans, my favourite vegetable, in pots and these were screaming to be planted out but where to put them? See what I mean about getting behind?
Anyway, one of the new raised beds on plot 5 has shallots at one end but is half empty so they went into there. Normally I wouldn’t put broad beans into a raised bed, they’ll do perfectly well in a clay soil, but this patch was ready and so were they.
Back home for a well deserved beer and some couch potato time around 8pm. As I write this up, it’s just finished raining (more to come?) and I’m aching a bit. My arms are feeling the pull from hauling the Merry Tiller back and I’ve strained my right wrist. This keeping fit through exercise lark is a killer.