Saturday, 28 February 2015

Digging’s Off

It wasn't a bad day so we decided to have an afternoon down on the plot. I'd noticed a couple of clumps of snowdrops on my last visit. They seemed a little bit wasted on the plot as we don't visit that often at this time of year. We decided to dig them up and bring them back home to plant them in various spots in the garden. (You’ll find more on our snowdrops move here.)

I thought I might do a bit more preparation work on our new strawberry bed before the weekend rain arrives. The first job was to pull up last season’s beetroot, which had spent the winter under a straw blanket. 
Most of the beetroot looked to have survived the winter but I’m a little unsure about its eating qualities. Rather than add these roots to the compost heap immediately I've re-covered them with straw alongside our straw covered carrots. We might test out a few of these roots but I think I’m just delaying their inevitable move to the compost heap. We shall see.
Most of the straw was removed to the carrot bed to re-cover the beetroot. Some weeds had started to grow in the compost left on the top of the weed control fabric. I’d left the compost from last autumn with the intention of incorporating it into the new strawberry bed as it’s dug over. Once the fabric was removed the bed didn't look too bad especially after I had done a bit of tidying up of the edges.
The far half of this bed had been dug over last autumn so my intention was to dig over the other half. My plan was to get this done before we had any heavy rain and then a few weeks before planting our strawberries I could run the cultivator over the bed and incorporate some fertiliser at the same time. The bed could then be covered with weed control fabric and our new strawberry plants planted as we saw fit. The far end of the bed looked quite dry as was the compost which had been left in a pile on the weed control fabric.

I only had to turn over a couple of fork of soil in order to realise that the ground was far too wet to dig. It wasn't that it couldn't be turned over but it wouldn't break down into a decent tilth and I know from past experience that digging our soil in this conditions makes for more difficult work and delay later in the year to break down the soil. Much better to leave it until its condition improves.

I was a little surprised how wet the ground was. After our dry February I expected it to be in much better condition. It’s so easy to overlook that over the three winter months we've had 141.4mm (5.57”) of rain whilst the estimated amount of evaporation loss over the same three months is only 35mm (1.38”). I’ll just have be patient and give the ground a bit more time to dry out.


6 comments:

  1. I think you might have a pleasant surprise. Old beetroot seems to avoid being woody quite well.

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    Replies
    1. We'd better try one or two then Mark.

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  2. The bed's looking lovely and neat, but I know what you mean about it being too wet to dig. It was horribly squelchy down at my plot yesterday. I tiptoed round the edges and pulled out a few weeds and threw some compost in from the edges, but I shall have to wait for it to dry out a bit before I do much more.

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    Replies
    1. At least our plot isn't squelchy. A few weeks of good weather should see it dry out!

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  3. Those beetroot look OK to me. Are they edible?

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    Replies
    1. Only one way to find out. I'll try one or two and post a comment.

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