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Cultivation time approaches

Posted by Guy Barter on 05 Mar 2008 at 07:38 AM

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
I 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.


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