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Thieves, robbers and crooks

Posted by Guy Barter on 01 Oct 2007 at 08:33 AM

I want thieves, robbers and crooks, - in a word, weeds.  With the warm moist soil rich in plant foods the greedy, grasping roots of weeds will gather these costly materials and store them as plant matter.  Unlike the soluble soil nutrients, plant matter won't be washed, by winter rains, out of my thin sandy soil into the ground water and rivers.  I am pleased to say that cleared areas of the plot are greening up fast with a massive flush of weeds.  Naturally, I don't want to let them set seed but with winter just round the corner there is little chance of that. 

Eventually they will be smothered by a thick layer of organic matter to be rotovated in during the spring.  Unfortunately the communal compost heap is much depleted my activities last winter and with foot and mouth disease in the district my chances of getting manure delivered are, for the moment, slim.  The allotment site is very close to affected farms.  I am looking into stable manure at the moment. 

The recent rains have completely restored the crops' water needs and crops are growing strongly for the time of year.  Weeds too have grown fast.  Those in the widely spaced Brussels sprouts and tomatoes were dealt with by scraping soil around the base of the crops to steady them in winds - this is called ‘earthing-up'.  The weeds are now buried.  More will come but they won't live to set seed and will scavenge the remnants of the very generous feeding given to the sprouts. 

With trips to Malvern to see the last big vegetable show of the year and with much editing to do on an updated book to do, my time has been a bit limited this weekend.  I also got the chance to discuss seed quality on television.  A new report by Gardening Which? has highlighted the frequency that duff seed is inadvertently sold. 

However, I did get a chance to harvest the abundant French beans and courgettes, and improving crops of tomatoes.  The second sowing of ridge cucumbers is now cropping very heavily as well. 

Another pumpkin succumbed to the squirrels - it is the kind that has rich, oily seeds for roasting - how do the pests know that the seeds are especially rich before they tunnel into the fruit?  Almost all the other squashes were gathered in to get them away from the beasts.  There is little hope now of bigger and better fruits so the pumpkin plot is now ripe for clearing. 

The first sowing of runner beans was pulled up and the ‘haulms' hung on a post to dry in the hope of collecting seeds for next year.  Weeds and debris where then raked up and the ‘mulcher' pulled through the soil.  Another strip of land cleared and left to ‘green-up'.

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