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Bit Nippy Out!

It was a lovely start to the day, quite bright sunshine and very light. After what feels like months of dull grey days under leaden skies, a start like that really lifts the spirits. The only thing that stopped me rushing out was gleam of the frost over everything. That made the warm inside far to comfortable to leave until after lunch when the frost was finally gone.

I was the only one on the site when I arrived. That goes to show, not everyone is mad! I actually like the cold so long as I’m dressed appropriately. Judging by the long range weather forecast, I’d best find out my long sleeved vest and long johns.

I did a little more tidying up on plot 29, just folding up some netting neatly and picking up some canes etc.  The paths look a bit of a mess as the wood chippings have rotted down and so the weeds are growing.

I quite like wood chippings for paths because they do rot down. If I was to lay concrete paths and then change the layout or someone else take over the plot it would be an awful job to sort out. The rotted chippings just add organic matter to the soil if you dig them in.

Talking of digging, that’s what I started on. The large bed on plot 29 needs digging over this year. If you have a nice light soil, then you don’t need to dig it over every year, if at all. With a heavy soil like mine, it does need it most years.

I’m only (only!!) single digging, if I’d started as I should have done some 6 weeks ago then I’d have double dug this bed. You can see a change of colour in the soil at the bottom of the spit which tells me it really needs it.

A lot of people I see digging over go to some trouble to break up the clods as they turn them but really that defeats the purpose. I just turn them over and stack so the air can get in. This means the frost will do the work of breaking down and mixing up for me.

In the spring a quick run over with the rotovator will break everything up and I’ll get a nice smooth tilth. The other thing I need to do is lime. All this rain, November was the wettest month on record apparently, washes out a lot of lime. As well as making nutrients available to the plants, lime helps the soil particles flocculate. I love that word! All it means is that the tiny particles of clay will join up into larger particles. A sandy soil is actually made up of larger particles than a clay soil.

Got a good start made, but the soil is still pretty heavy with water. That makes it much harder work than when it is dryer. I’d finished a strip when Gianni turned up on the next plot to collect some leeks.

We had a brief chat and I sat on his bench which was a mistake. Once seated the body did not want to return to work mode. Looking at the red glow of the setting sun behind the leafless trees that border the site, I agreed with it.

Popped the spade into the shed, scraped my boots and left with Gianni. By this time it was going dark fast. We’re nearly at the shortest day now, the winter solstice, In just 9 days the days will be getting longer again, although it’s not really noticeable for a couple of months.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary
One comment on “Bit Nippy Out!
  1. Graham Slater says:

    I also think wood chippings look very good for paths as well as being very practical and ecological.The problem comes when they rot down and start getting weedy, then you can spend as much time weeding the paths as you do the beds – not funny. My solution is to lay permeable ground cover, it looks a bit stark at first but somehow mellows to the eye after a while and is extremely practical. Mind you people do tend to raise an eyebrow when they catch you using a dustpan and brush to keep it soil free. Nothing’s perfect!

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