Now that the weather seems to have progressed from "flippin' cold" to "a bit chilly" I have managed to spend much of the last couple of weekends preparing the veg plot for the growing season ahead. This is a process I normally do in the autumn, but being as autumn came to a bit of an abrupt end as winter descended and the ground rapidly transformed into permafrost, there was not any chance doing any serious digging. Well, not with a spade anyway - some sort of mechanical device might just about have managed it.
What I normally do is to dig over the entire plot, pulling out those pesky perennial weeds as I go, then mulch the lot with home made compost. The theory is that if I do this in autumn then the elements can get to work on the compost and break it down into the soil. Of course it won't have long this time as (hopefully) it will soon be spring and time to start sowing seeds.
This is also a chance to dig over the compost heaps. Those compost purists out there will tell you that to make good compost you should turn it regularly to aerate it. However, as we produce rather a lot of compost, I don't tend to do this. Our compost is actually a mixture of grass clippings and other garden bits, kitchen scraps, chicken manure (mixed with straw), goat manure (also with straw) and goose manure (with, yes you've guessed it, straw). Imagine turning that lot! Anyway, what I do is have two compost bins (actually two and half as I have another half constructed, but I ran out of wood left over from when the chicken house was built) and I first dig out the well composted compost from one bin and spread that. Then I dig out the compost from the second bin and put it into the first. Usually there is some usable compost at the bottom of this bin as well. Not a conventional method I know, but it works for me. If I can get around to finishing the third compost bin then I can avoid filling them to overflowing - another to add to my list of jobs.
Anyway, I nearly managed to finish - just a tiny bit of one bed left to cover. Although I am running out of usable compost anyway. Being as I now have two large beds and one smaller bed to contend with, not to mention all that compost digging, by the end I felt pretty exhausted. In fact, I think I might give the Wii Fit a miss for a couple of days!
I always find this job tiring, but immensely satisfying. There is something about transforming a rather tatty looking and weedy plot into a much tidier and nicely dug over one and putting back into the soil our various waste (i.e compost) that I find particularly rewarding. Maybe it's something about a sense of optimism about the growing season ahead.
In couple of weeks or so I shall get the rotavator onto it to break it up more so that it is suitable for sowing seeds. I am told that a good guide as to when it is the right time to do this is when the mud stops clinging to your boots. Plenty of mud clinging onto my boots at the moment - with each step my boots feel a little heavier!
21 hours ago