Well,we have been working hard to prepare the plot for the coming season. It has not been too hard and most of the initial digging is done, bar one section that was frozen by frost, but there is not much to do. But the digging has been to one spade depth down, and so it is relatively shallow. The reason why? Pan. When a piece of earth is tilled for many years to a certain depth, the ground below that depth can become quite solid and resistant to the spade, and this is what has happened. WE call this pan, or hard pan.
So what is the answer. Andrew and I are buying a mattock, a heavy duty digging tool for breaking hardened soil. Andrew, my son, has used one before when he was a tree nursery worker, and so he is looking forward to using one again.We will get the job done.
We have not got rid of the tarpaulin that covered much of the ground yet. I brought Andrew round to help me move it, but the weather was icy and the whole sheet was caked in ice, making it heavy, so we rolled it up and left it until the ice melts. It is going to take the two of us to shift that tarpaulin. Yes I can drag it on my own, but dragging it is a recipe for damage,so we play safe and carry it.
When digging I sense that the ground is not dark enough.Why? Shortage of organic matter, and that's not good. So what is the answer? We need compost and manure. I am going to apply a mixture of chicken manure pellets,which are great soil enhancers, and a layer of compost later in the season. But after the manure and before the compost I am going to have to deal with some invasive weeds. Creeping buttercup is a weed of acid soils, and it is popping up on one part of the new plot. I will add some wood ash, which is alkaline, to make the soil conditions difficult for the weed, and then will cover over the weeded infected area with a ground control fabric for a month or two until I apply the compost. This fabric lets through water,but not light and is deadly for weeds. I use if to make my paths on my main plot, and it has solved some weed problems very well.
I am going to break up the old compost bins, which are a decaying wooden frame with some wood that is best fitted for the council waste tip. So in the next day or two I am taking my heavy felling ax, which I have used to fell some dying fruit trees, and that will solve the problem of the unwanted wood very well.
Anyway,folks,watch this space for more when I have more to tell you.
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