For one reason or another, I have been unable to maintain the weekly reports on progress, and to be honest, some weeks there didn’t seem to be enough done to write a blog about. However, I now have a bit more time and energy to pick where I left off at the end of February.
Recap to the end of week 5
From the point of occupying the site at the end of January for the next 5 weeks virtually all of the work was clearing the site and trying to work out the immediate way forward. During this phase I was very overwhelmed at times, not knowing which way to turn or what to do next.
So, I broke the work down into simple, small jobs that I could achieve in a morning or afternoon. There had been two large areas of brambles which I cleared and had decided to bring two of the original beds into production for the coming year whilst I continued to work on the rest during the year. By the end of week 5, I had cleared most of the brambles, cleared the side strip and dug over two of the original beds (bed 1 & 2).
So, where are we now?
Week 6 – was the first week of March and I was able to get to the plot three times. The plan for the Sunday was to clear a lot more of the rubbish to the front of the plot in preparation for removal and to also create the burning pile near to the front of the plot. I wanted to clear old beds 3 & 4 so that I could lay tarpaulin down until such time as I was ready to work in this area.
Most of the site’s rubbish was moved to the front of the site and beds 3 & 4 were cleared. However, bed 3 appeared to be in a good workable condition, so I decided to bring this bed into production for the potatoes. The week was finished off by laying the tarpaulin over bed 4 and part of bed 5. Additionally, some of the lifted carpet strips were temporarily laid along part of the side strip.
Week 7 – was defined by the construction of the first part of the pallet composting area. I am fortunate to work for a company with a warehouse, so have access to a lot of pallets. Three pieces were acquired and assembled on the site. The base was laid with cardboard to act as a temporary weed barrier and the side lined with old compost bags. The top and front are yet to be added!
Weed fabric was laid between the two posts on the side strip and bed 3 was given a second dig and weed. This week also saw the arrival of my gas stove for brewing fresh coffee and cooking lunch, if required. I small blog post was written about the stove – Click Here
Week 8 – One of the things that had been bugging me since I took on the plot was that the footpath did not go in a straight line from the gate to the shed. It deviated to the right, I assume, to avoid something planted in the dim and distant past.
This issue was resolved and as a result, I gained an extra 2 square metres on bed 1 and approximately 1.5 square metres on bed 2. It was also more pleasing to my eye, must be the ex-Military Officer in me! Bed 3 received its final weed and rake in preparation for the potatoes.
Week 9 – this was my Septum Horribilis or horrible week! When I did my initial walk around the plot in January, I noticed what I thought was the dried stems of asparagus growing in bed 1. However, when I saw no signs of growth, I thought I would investigate further. What I discovered in the central part of bed 1 was a mass of tangled roots which I started to remove.
Following further investigation online, I discovered I had the dreaded Horsetail or Marestail. Realising that there is no way to remove this weed due to the depth of its root system, I have now adopted a pick and burn of any signs of it showing above ground level. It will not affect the vegetables I plant, it will just be a perpetual pain in the a**.
However, on the upside, bed 1 is now almost ready for brassicas (just the hoop cage to build) and I have laid a final piece of weed fabric at the start of the long strip up the left side of the plot.
Week 10 – I feel, at last, that I am making good progress as this is the week I plant my 1st early potatoes. The variety that I have gone for this year was Premiere and I have managed to get 2 rows of 12 potatoes in the ground. I had not been planning to plant potatoes out this year but making bed 3 available changed my mind.
The second project for this week was to build the brassica hoop cage from MDPE pipe and bamboo canes. The cage covers bed 1 and measures 5m long by 2m wide and 1.2m high in the centre. The whole cage took about a hour to build and it will be covered by a 7mm x 5mm butterfly net once the brassicas start going in. A separate blog post has been written about this build – Click Here ….
So, at the end of 10 weeks on the plot I am happy with the progress being made. I have brought three of the old beds into production – for brassicas, legumes and potatoes/roots. I have the brassica cage built and the first part of the new composting area built. The side strip is now mostly covered by weed fabric, bed 4 and part of 5 are covered with tarpaulin and the burning/rubbish area moved to the front of the plot. Oh, and at the back of the plot I have found several crowns of rhubarb.
At the end of week 11 is Easter, so there is a lot of opportunities to get jobs done at the plot. We are approaching the last frost date for this area – zone 8b, so will being starting to put more plants out and sowing direct. I have environ mesh cages to finish making for the carrots and still more rubbish to remove from the plot!