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Grass Snake on the Plot and re-sowing French and Runner Beans

Re-sowing beans

I downed tools at 5pm and headed for the shed where I sowed a second lot of runner and climbing French beans. They may be a little late but better late than none to paraphrase the saying.


Loaded them (8 of each in 3? square pots) into the car along with all the brassicas from the coldframe and headed round the corner to the site. I feel a bit bad using a car to go there but it’s the only practical way really. I have trundled a wheelbarrow full of compost around before but you feel a bit like ‘the good life” pushing a barrow down a suburban street.


Strangely enough the site was empty, despite the lovely weather. People did arrive after a bit so I suppose I went around in the shift change,


Pitching the Tent


The first job was to build the super-duper cold frame I got from Bridgemere, It wasn?t too hard to turn from a box of bits into a cross between a tent and a greenhouse. I must say, I?m really impressed. The heavy duty reinforced plastic side panels unzip and roll up to be held by Velcro tabs but there is a sort of flyscreen under, keeping out pests but allowing good ventilation. There are also small screened vents  at the ends, further improving ventilation.


I wish the greenhouse was in as good shape, really must make another start at putting it up now that I have built a replacement for the missing arm.


Having emptied the car into the cloche, I moved the plum tomatoes from the wooden coldframe into the tent as well.


Comfrey and Compost


The comfrey is overdue for a cut, it must be five feet high in points and covered in flowers, which pleases the bees. With Bocking 14 being a sterile clone there is no danger of it seeding. This would be a real problem as comfrey is as hard to eradicate as any perennial weed when established.


I emptied the blue barrel of some bindweed roots that have been in there since last year, in the dark as there is a lid on it and sitting in stagnant water. Incredibly there were green shoots coming out.


Son of Sid the Snake


Filled the bin with comfrey and then decided to look at the compost bins. I took the plastic covers off and discovered a small, about 12?, grass snake. Popped the cover back and rushed up the plot to the shed for my camera, but he?d gone when I took it back off. Shame, they?re really wonderful creatures.


The wood chippings filled bin isn?t too rotted down, despite the fact it has had a lot of sulphate of ammonia to add nitrogen to the carbon and facilitate rotting, Maybe a little too dry. Stirred it around with the fork and moved on to the other bin.


This is still not so much compost as various rotting materials so emptied it out to rebuild it and introduce oxygen to fuel the transformation.


I cleared the purple and white sprouting from further up the plot. Nothing edible to me, I just grew a lot of pigeon food there. It?s also getting weedy so to the bin with the lot.


So, a layer of comfrey, layer of stalks and weeds with the partially rotted material from the previous heap and another layer of comfrey. Repeat. In theory this should give me good compost fairly quickly as the comfrey will not only cause the heap to heat but will add valuable nutrients.


The bin filled still leaving a fair amount to go back in but I know it will collapse quickly and I?ll put the rest back over the next few days.


About half the comfrey is cut now and I was getting tired so back home around 8.30pm.


Took a look at my onions before I left – there is something wrong with the onions at the top of plot 5. Yellowing leavings and die back with some. Of them. I supspect downy mildew but it could be shanking, which is much worse as I would not be able to use the patch for some years. The weather being so wet, mildew seems more likely but I?ll lift and cut a bulb tomorrow. If it stinks, it?s shanking.


The autumn sown Japanese onions are doing OK if a little smaller than I hoped for. Still, some onions are better than none.


Promise of a good day tomorrow, so maybe a chance to catch up more.

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