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Ah, muck spreading

Posted by Guy Barter on 27 Jan 2008 at 09:56 PM

Ah, muck spreading; staggering along with a creaking barrow of heavy manure on wet, slippery soil. There is nothing quite like it. The manure is rotting well and full of brandling worms. The local robin follows me round with great enthusiasm.

Still the potato ground is covered, and I have plenty of muck left to add a half dressing to the pea and bean patch. Usually I go for a barrow load every 1.5m, but for these crops that need little feeding I shall stretch it out to 3m.

The pea/bean ground is however still partly occupied by irises and various choice perennials taken from my old house before moving two years ago. Many of these were hoicked out this weekend and planted in the back garden, with a load of excess invasive perennials such as hardy geraniums and golden rod being returned to the allotment for digging in as 'soil improver'. After a two year break from veg this ground should be fertile and low in disease and pests.

As a break from muck hauling, I took my machete (Brazilian and greatly prized) and cleared a few square metres of allotments that are being prepared by newcomers to the allotment site. They have become overgrown with scrub and brambles eight feet tall, but are now being taken back into cultivation as the demand for allotments has risen. I find surprising things beneath the undergrowth – a car radiator, a waxed cotton jacket, tyres, an Italian carboy that appears to have held wine, steel fittings from horse jumps, a lawnmower engine – I only hope the Council will again be generous enough to provide a skip for the haul of rubbish. Sadly, this rubbish can only come from people with a key to the site… Rubbish dumping carries the penalty of instant ejection – if caught.

On my own plot rubbish was collected and taken home for disposal and recycling. Plant waste was raked up and added to the compost pits. I like to leave a cover of plant debris over winter for the wildlife. A flock of fieldfares visited the site this weekend so maybe I have done some good. But with spring close the ground must be readied for sowing and planting.

Recent weather has been very spring-like and the garlic in particular has responded amazingly, with dark green shoots coming up very fast. The time to start sowing is approaching very fast.

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