Cultivation time approaches - but the soil was
a tad too wet after rain on Friday to rotovate this weekend. No
matter; plenty of time yet.
The rotovator was dragged out and checked. Completely uncharacteristically
cleaned it up and changed the engine oil before putting it away last
year, so it was just a matter of a penetrating-oil spray to all moving
parts and cables and replacing the transmission oil as there is an
annoying minor leak in the rotor bearing so it has to be drained if
left unused for a long period. The old petrol was replaced with fresh
unleaded and all is ready to go.
The hills of manure were spread this weekend.
The manure is very lumpy and sturdy blows from the mattock were needed
to spread it thinly enough for rotovating. Any significant clumps of
weeds were uprooted too.
The weather was too windy to spread the
sulphate of potash that my sandy soil needs every year, and the gusts
made accurate application of the chicken manure pellet difficult so
that task has been left. Instead a line was put down and the grassy
plot edges re-cut with an edging iron and a spade-width edge-strip dug
by spade to bury the cut-off turf. It is gardening truism that sharply
cut edges make a plot look very satisfying.
Although the grassy paths are growing there is
little crop growth at the moment and the soil is so cold that I am not
tempted to sow more outdoors.
The winter routine of cutting overgrown
wildlife hedges has resulted in enough twiggy thorny stuff for a big
blaze for the destruction of old brassica stumps. As the brassica
crops finish the stumps are carefully eased out and assessed for club
root disease. Despite the wet soil last summer there is little club
root - it is wet and warm that this fungus likes and it was probably
too cool last summer for optimum multiplication so that my heavy use of
lime probably was sufficient to reduce damage to negligible levels.
Even so club root is not something to be complacent over and all
potentially infected material is burnt.
Now the really cold weather is (I hope) over
the seed potatoes were put out to chit. I am not allowed to bring them
indoors so they have to chitted in unheated conditions in the garden
shed. However, I have sneaked a tray of first-earlies indoors and
hidden them behind my computer where there are (barely) tolerated.
People who live under a more tolerant regime can chit their spuds in
the spare room - on top of the wardrobe used to be my favourite place.
Although they are likely to chit only slowly, I don't really want very
early potato crops as late frosts are a problem on my low-lying plot.
The last of the winter crops are being gathered now, and soon the plot will be nearly bare.