Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Working on A Paddy Field

My plot is more like a paddy field than an allotment.  There is about four inches of water on most beds.  The fruit trees on my plot all survived the gales, the crab apple even had some tiny bunches of apples still on it.  I had left these on for the birds but I think the wind and rain made it difficult for the birds to eat them.  Usually they are eaten by February.  My shed is still standing but it needs painting as the wind and rain has worn away the protective coating on the wood.

I saw a couple of Queen Bumble bees out on Sunday I was pleased to see them but they were having to work hard to find food.  I am not going to empty the compost bins to raise the level of my beds yet as there will be creatures and insects sheltering in them.  The wild life must have been devastated and I was wonder how my lovely big worm will have survived.  However,worms obtain their oxygen through their moist skin and  do this through the air, but as water is H2O they can get oxygen just as well from water.  So they should be OK in the flooded beds

Kevin Butt from Lancaster University explain in a interview on the Naked Scientist Website:

Some people think that if a worm is buried and gets flooded, then they would seek to escape.  But they don't need to because they can get the oxygen they need from the water.  However, quite often we see earthworms on the soil surface or on pavements seemingly trying to escape from inundation of water.  Perhaps, it's not that, maybe it's something slightly different - that the animals are actually trying to make use of the moist conditions in order to move away from their burrows, if you like, to pastures new so that they can mate with individuals that are not closely related to themselves. 
So I can relax and stop worrying about the earthworms on my plot now it is flooded. They will survive! I will also let them wander to pastures new if the urge takes them.

This week I intend to work on projects that I can complete round the edges of my plot, building and arch over one of the entrances to my plot.   Putting in 5 foot stakes and supporting wires for my loganberry which is growing and growing.  I planted it February last year and it is looking healthy and ready to crop well this year.  I am also finishing my willow hoop fence which will support and frame my dog rose hedge.

My potatoes are now chitting in egg boxes in the dinning room ready to plant next month  when the soil has warmed up and dried out.  What I may do is sandwich them between compost and then put a further mulch of well rotted manure  5/10 cm - 2 to four inches on top.  This a method Charles Dowding recommended in his book Organic Gardening:
This gives a higher yield and results in fewer slugs and keeps the tubers white.
I received a packet of annual flowers as gift last year and I sowed them in late September, I have 50 or more  plants now and do not know quite what to do with them, they have grown really well, but I now need the space for sowing vegetables, herbs and flowers.  They are now out ot the greenhouse, with fleece ready to cover them in case of frost.  I  have heartease, and white campions plants  ready to go out but even in my garden the soil is too wet and very cold.  So they will have to be nursed along for a while yet.

There is plenty to do at my plot and in my garden but grey days do not inspire me to go out for too long. However, Spring is here my daffodils, violets, crocus and snowdrops tell me, and sunny warm days will return.

With Reiki's golden light and blessings

Merry B

Friday, 7 February 2014

Weaving Willow on my plot

I hated fences and barriers around my plot, but, last April faced with two industrial sized poly tunnels alongside my plot I have been thinking of ways to screen their hulking ugliness from my view.  Last March I planted a hedge of dog roses along 4 meters on one side, and created a new seating,& potting area on the side of my shed, where I could glimpse part of the expanse of the allotments,  I was given a roll of blue netting and so fenced off my top bed ..  I hated it but, hey ho, if I was ever to get anything  growing that season  I had to put up with it.

I  made a lovely willow arch at  the entrance to my plot, but unfortunately when I cut my willows  it was just before we had snow in Hampshire which lasted several weeks and the willows lost their flexibility,  This year, having learnt a lesson, I am cutting the willows as I need them for a structure.  I have started a willow hooped fence in the edge of one side of the plot to support the dog roses. The hoops are six feet high and they will frame the dog roses as well as support them.  When the rain abates I will weave a wattle band across the top and bottom of the hoops  to strengthen them and may be create a design for the center of each hoops also from willow. 

My Christmas "book stocking" contained Jim Long's book about making trellises gates and fences from bentwood,  A great book with easy directions on how to make different structures.  It is a books that has inspired me to be more adventurous about how I use my willows and other wood.  I will be raiding my dead hedge for gate posts and bracing struts for my new Arch  When the rain and gales eventually fade away in Southern England  I will be making a gate, trellises, and an arbor for growing sweet peas and climbing beans.  I made one last year which worked well but as the willow was brittle it had to be supported  in places by bamboo as it sagged under the weight of the beans.  This year I will use side braces and cross struts then it should last for three or more years. Oh that  sounded almost professional!    I hope to start work on the arbor in the next few weeks once the soil is a lot less soggy than it is at the moment and I wont sink ankle deep into mud. In the meantime I I will work on the the fences and the gate.  

Other jobs I will get on with over the next few weeks is putting in new post and wire for my loganberry and post and wires for the grape vine. I grew this  from a cutting and it is now big enough  to be set in its position by my shed, yet.another screen for my plot, this time around my sitting area. 

I am becoming a recluse?  Err yes it seems so.  Being shut off from other plots by the community plots'  second ugly Poly tunnel was awful . However it is also means that I can quietly grow my herbs trees,  flowers and vegetables in my own style, and nurture the birds bees, butterflies, insects and amphibian in peace.  I am creating a lovely haven but also social spaces to share, with friends,  and drink Rooibos tea blended with fresh picked herbs.  Sunny days  for Pops dog and I to look forward to in my retreat by the sea  - soon I hope!

With Reiki Blessings