Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Tricky Digging On a Getting Better Sort of a Day

Monday morning wasn't too promising and it looked like another cloudy day was on the cards. At least it didn't rain and although it was still cloudy at lunchtime we headed for the plot. Our main tasks for the day were to plant up the coldframe with peppers and tomatoes and dig over a bed ready to plant out our sweet corn. We took some cucumber and sunflower plants to the plot to plant out too.

The bed for our sweetcorn is earmarked as our new strawberry bed. I’m anticipating planting our strawberries next spring so anything planted in this bed needs to be removed by autumn so that the bed can be prepared ready for our new strawberry plants next spring. This bed is badly affected by club root as we found out last year when we lost all our winter brassica crops.
This is how the bed looked back on April 26th when the old brassica plants and the weed control fabric had been removed. Since then we've had plenty of rain and the bed has been waiting to be dug over ready for a summer crop.

Regular followers will know that I've been complaining about how wet the soil is down on the plot. I was hoping it had dried out enough to till one bed ready to plant out our sweet corn later this week. I was sort of out of luck with the tilling. The top few inches had dried out and tilled okay but the tiller didn't want to go any deeper and I was going to finish up with a hard pan a few inches down.
Digging the ground to a fork depth you can see just how wet the soil is as the fork left smooth shiny grooves in the soil as it’s dug. I experimented by digging a small patch of ground over with a fork but didn't bother trying to break down the large clods that resulted. I then used the tiller to break down the soil which seemed to work well and I knew the ground was dug to a least a fork’s depth to avoid a pan layer.
Once dug over with the fork the bed looked like this. I wouldn't fancy my chances of breaking this lot down to a fine tilth with a rake and there is no chance of planting into soil in this condition. The tiller was put into action. It took a couple of passes but the soil was soon broken down and made into a suitable tilth for planting.
The bed still needs edging and covering with weed control fabric but weather permitting we should be able to get our sweet corn planted this week. The bed to the right in the above photo also needs digging and it’s funny how misleadingly dry the soil looks but I'm guessing it will be just the same, pretty wet and claggy beneath the top few inches and will need digging over with a fork before tilling.

By the time we left the plot in the late afternoon it was nice and sunny and certainly the best part of the day. The coldframe had been planted up with peppers and tomatoes and the cucumbers and sunflowers had been planted out too.


  1. That looks an awful lot of work to get the bed in a plantable state to have a tiller helps I hope

    1. A tiller a great help David. Most of the time the tiller will do the whole job and I don't have to do any manual digging. I always hand dig the beds with potatoes in to stop the formation of a pan layer.

  2. PS I have been missing some of Martyn`s train posts so have subscribed to email notification

    1. I've also missed a few outings due to the weather. I've still got to post about last weekends adventure too.


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