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Archive for the ‘rain’ Category

 We have decided to gingerly stick our heads up into the blogosphere again. It’s just that we’ve both been very busy, trying to learn more detail and technicalities about our craft. We have been wading and trudging through the dreaded Royal Horticultural Society 3 course. 

We have always been fans of compost and soil, sniffing and smelling it, as well as growing plants and veg in it. But how little we knew of the bio-chemical wonder-land that is going on beneath our feet.  

Our ears pricked up eagerly one day in class when the tutor described soil that had a blue/grey appearance, calling it gleying. It is due to lack of oxygen and is found in waterlogged soils and this is not good. If you dig down more than a few inches on large parts of our allotment this is exactly what you will find. We originally thought that it was due to a piece of machinery/metal kinda rotting there, we weren’t far off as it is due to iron.

Go to fullsize image

http://sciences.aum.edu/BI/BI4523/student/Christa/gley.gif

This photo is not one of ours, because at the moment our allotment is completely saturated and we can’t do anything to the soil in these conditions because we will make it into even more of a sticky, compacted mess. But it shows how yucky and inhospitable a gley soil is to a lot of plants that an allotmenteer wants to grow. Gleying is not uncommon and could be lurking under many an unsuspecting gardeners feet.

We are currently sat twiddling our thumbs dreaming about elaborate drainage systems. Although the fact that our allotment is clay and above a substantial natural spring means that it is gonna be awhile before we get anywhere near a lovely loam on parts of our plot. But as ever we sure are gonna have fun getting oxygen into the soil and more importantly getting it to stay there!

As I write, Beener is excitedly poring over our seeds, putting them into order of month of sowing. The anticipation for spring is mounting and we wait patiently for our soil to dry out so we can get stuck in…..

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Edinburgh council opened last year the first official organic allotments in Scotland.

The lucky plot holders have access to an organic composting toilet, and there is a  rainwater collection system to be used for watering plots. The site is accessible to disabled allotmenteers too.

At last an example of a local authority decision in line with the growing number of people concerned about food quality and the desperate state that we are steering the planet toward…

Reports of the allotment’s opening can be found in  BBC News and the Edinburgh Evening News

Hooray!

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We have both recently come back from our holidays…. A group of us went to Pontins …. Being away from our allotment made us feel adrift and a little bit pukey….

After spending a week in Pontins we were absolutely gasping to stick our hands in the ‘durt’ and touch something that didn’t feel cheap, vulgar and nasty. It was very noisy and there were too many random objects which beeped or flashed at you without provocation or warning…..

Beener has just asked me to add this free-word association which has just tumbled out of her- dirty wartime cell blocks, smelly, cheesy entertainment, lots of drunks, crap.

No fresh vegetables on site or within a radius of ten miles….

Goin round and round in our heads ‘I am a cheeky girl; Shut up – just shut up, shut up; pump it louder and reach for the stars’ – For god sake Pontins’ put a different compilation mini disc on – damn you….. ‘

Most unsettling…

But ‘each to their own’ and Keener did get pulled up to do a dance competiton by a cruel blue coat and came second – begrudgingly showing the crowd some of her unique moves… – so the holiday wasn’t without humour…

The children thoroughly enjoyed themselves – it was the adults in our group with the dead look in their eyes….

So if you want to book a Pontins break you can find your own flipping link….

Upon return to the plot as you might expect everything had gotten a whole lot bigger. Sadly some sort of slug orgy had resulted in 50 lettuce casualties. A solitary lettuce remaining – shunned by those fat, slimey, ugly, hedonistic molluscs. But why? – those beasts are insatiable! So we will let the lettuce go to seed and save them to sow next year. When we are ready to go into mass commercial production of our miraculous lettuce we’ll let you know!

We continue to abstain from slug pellets. The egg shells are putting up a good fight, but some slugs prevail and our drenched plot is a perfect habitat for them…. But we feel strong in tackling our addiction – we have not dropped a single pellet in anger… Oyster shells, hair (any species or colour), beer traps, sharp grit, ash, copper rings and so on – plenty of methods left to try… I guess I have overcome my addiction by accepting that you just can’t free the world of slugs and of course you wouldn’t want to as they are part of nature’s rich tapestry of interconnections…

But I still hate them – they make my skin crawl and I think they are greedy…

It felt like home as we wondered around our sanctuary, with the sweet pea scent drifting over the plot (except for when it was chucking it down).. A stint of frantic weeding followed – brambles, bind weed and thistles. No gloves, straight in, this was bare-knuckle weeding…. If you bury down into the earth with your fingers and pull on the stem right at the bottom, our soil allows us to get quite a bit of root out – and you don’t get hurt, much to onlookers disbelief. We will dig out the roots of the weeds that dare to survive in the autumn – when we have time!

I then decided that I had had enough of the overgrown paths ruining the look of our plot. So I used hand shears to clear the paths – on my hands and knees the good old fashioned way – as I chopped up and slashed the Pontins experience out of my head.

And then a bit of kicking back and relaxing, grabbing any miniscule drop of sunshine we can….

We have been feasting and gorging since we got back – runner beans, swiss chard, broad beans, potatoes, dwarf french beans, backcurrant (alright – from the hedgerows), mange tout, cabbage, courgette, brocolli, onions and garlic…

So all in all things continue to go well…..

Keener

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So another break in the drought that is Spring 2007… It has been a very exciting night in the South West… we got soaked…

And the best thing is that we managed to remember to have our water butt lid off this time – an essential part of any water collection system – we didn’t last time …. woops!

The wet spell is predicted to continue for a few days, so perhaps we will be able to complete some other jobs on the plot that don’t involve power walking with a watering can..

I say predicted and not forecasted because I am of the opinion that weather forecaster people are more similar to psychics purporting to predict the future than ‘proper’ scientists. They have promised rain on several occassions recently – nothing…

But today is wet and the plants are happy….

I am quite keen on buying a soil tester which can measure the moisture content of soil… Thereby enabling me to know whether I have watered deeply enough – so that roots are encouraged to grow down into the soil… Then again perhaps I shouldn’t be encouraging my watering and rain obsession/pontifications… Besides sticking your finger down into the dirt is a way of analysing moisture and thats positive for mental health and for the bank balance…

Anyways in between manic watering last week we managed to get a few more plants sunk into the ground –

Spinach around and between the broadbeans. This will help prop up the broadbeans and the spinach will benefit from the shade.

Stock and sunflowers – the ornamental beds are gonna get crammed with plants…

Marigolds – dotted around in clumps – a stalwart of the companion planting approach.

Everything we have planted so far is doing ok – although sometimes it feels like we have been keeping things alive (did I mention there’s been not much rain about!) rather than nurturing them to flourish…

Watering takes up so much time… so I am off to a local church plant sale soon to pick up some bargains to fill in some gaps hopefully. We have quite a few gaps on our massive plot (114ftx18ft6) – and the expanse of brown is starting to jar me – we need more plants!!!!

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