Weather & Rotavators

Well if March is the start of spring, winter’s hung on until the bitter end. It’s been pretty cold, especially in the wind that tries to freeze your bones. The pigsty conversion is well near finished though, so a derelict near ruin is once again a useful building.

We’ve laid a skim of concrete over the uneven rocks that formed the floor and once that’s properly set, I’ll knock up a door. The doorway is a bit narrow but just wide enough to get the Merry Tiller and lawn mower in along with other garden tools.

One thing out here that you really can’t have too many of is outbuildings. Or maybe machinery and stuff just multiplies to over-fill whatever space is available. What I’d really like is a small tractor or hunky quad-bike for the pasture. Problem is where to keep it, left outside to the elements 24/7 will not do it any good. Not to mention the money for it.

Inside the old cow shed, I’m building some stud walls to make a root cellar (as I covered in my book How to Store Your Home Grown Produce) and make better use of the space in there generally. Now it’s beginning to get properly organised it will become useful as a workshop rather than jumble store room where everything is but nothing can be found!

Another couple of weeks and I’ll be finished, although every job seems to take twice as long as I thought it would!

Weather forecasts

I sometimes don’t know whether to laugh or cry, the weatherman’s on the radio happily burbling about how warm it is and how spring has arrived whilst I’m looking at thick mist, with the wind howling and rain coming down.

I know we’re in one of the wettest areas of the country in North Wales but do we have to have the wind as well? Still, Sunday afternoon we got a dose of sunshine after a wet start, which was lovely, but I was half way through fixing up a wall in the cowshed and couldn’t leave it or we wouldn’t get through to the freezers.

What Use Are Tillers & Rotavators?

I had an interesting question the other day.

The tillers I have seen only go about five inches deep, do you have to dig the ground first ? If so then they seem to be a waste of money and if not then how do deep rooted veg, i.e. parsnips, manage?

OK, I’ve got both a small Mantis tiller and a large, old Merry Tiller rotavator. The Mantis will certainly go deeper than 5”, about 8” I think although I’ve never really measured how deep. The Merry Tiller can get down to near a foot.

Neither machine will do the same job as double digging and on a heavy clay soil I found digging first was required before using the Merry Tiller or it would just bounce around on the surface.In my present really stony soil, the Merry Tiller is easier to use than digging as it churns around the fist sized stones.

Where both machines pay their rent is the condition they leave the soil in. The Merry Tiller breaks up clods and lumps leaving a good, deep and loose tilth perfect for planting into. The Mantis leaves the soil even finer and perfect for seed sowing.

Do remember that the majority of vegetables don’t root that deeply, although leafy brassicas, carrots, parsnips etc like a deep soil. That top layer, the first 6” to a foot is the most important.

If I had a perfect loam soil then perhaps I could get away without my rotavators but on the soil I have and used to have, they’re such a time and energy saver I don’t know what I’d do without them.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
One comment on “Weather & Rotavators
  1. Ian Pinfold says:

    After a winter away from the plot I spent a lovely sunny Sunday morning tilling half my small allotment plot, with a small Mantis, then as an experiment, dug the second half by hand.
    Result: First half looks and feels lovely and is ready for seed planting, second half still has a lot of work to do & my back is killing me.
    Lesson learnt. I’m sticking to the Mantis in future!!

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