Something has happened that has caused a change of plan at the allotment. Instead of bringing bed 6 into production I have had to prioritise on the opposite end of the allotment. One of the very first things I did when I took on the plot was to start clearing the patch of ground beside the shed, along the back boundary of the allotment. This had been the old compost and general waste soil dumping area.
I had cleared it back a little bit but decided to leave it for another day, as I was going to relocate the compost bins and had no immediate plans for this area. That is until a couple of nights ago. Over a glass of wine, I started looking at polytunnels and before I knew what had happened, I had bought one! So, plan B now in force.
Between weeding, watering, strimming, and planting out, I now have to clear all of the earth and old compost from the back of the plot and dump it somewhere else, but where? I have a cunning plan!
Some time is the dim and distant past, someone had repurposed a bathtub for a pond. Unfortunately, it is a stagnant mess with no wildlife, and it has been on the long term list for emptying, lifting and using as a raised bed. Now is the perfect time – ready made hole that needs filling up, bingo! This also happens to be where I want to build a small patio area for the table and chairs I am bringing from the house.
Thursday 12 May – After a couple of wet days and some family visits, it was Thursday before I was able to get back to the allotment. Todays task was simple, empty the old bath of water and lift it out of the ground! The first stage was fairy straight forward with the water being bucketed from the bath to an empty water butt. Within half an hour the bath was empty.
Quick coffee break and sleeves up to lift the bath out of the ground. Well, I grabbed one end of the bath and lifted, or should I say tried to lift the bath. Not a hope in hell, I have two weak shoulders due to dislocations and have an arthritic back! What was I thinking? I even considered the option of getting a sledge hammer and breaking it up – simple solution – more coffee.
Surprisingly, the coffee worked on the grey cells because I started using lengths of timber and assorted bricks to create levers and pivots. Soon I had one end up about a foot and able to place more timbers under that end to hold it up whilst I moved to the other end. Eventually I have the bath partially up on timbers and able to get a better purchase with my hands.
Keeping my knees bent and back straight I pulled on the end of the bath and it lifted enough to be able to roll it out of the hole and on to its side. Then it was a simple task of slowing moving it away from the hole and laying it down. I am so glad I stayed awake in Physics at school when we discussed levers.
Friday 13 May – was spent taking earth from the ‘spoil tip’ at the back of the plot and dumping it into the hole. Unfortunately, this was not straight forward and after about an hour I discovered a broken reinforced concrete fence post laid on its side in amongst the spoil. Leaving that for another day, I continued to move as much soil as possible until the hole was completely full and tamped done.
This does, unfortunately, leave a lot of soil and all of the old compost left to shift. Now hopefully, the compost can be placed on the existing beds or moved to the new compost bin. However, I am still stuck with what to do with the rest of the soil. If I can get the old bathtub relocated where I want it, I can then start filling that up with some of the soil as a raised herb/salad bed. Job for next week!
Saturday 14 May – this was designated as a weeding, watering, and planting out day, with a little strimming thrown in for good measure. The main issue here is the horsetail (marestail) which needs removing every week. This means it takes about 30 minutes for each bed on my hands and knees, but at least it was a beautiful warm morning with the sun beating down on my back.
Weeding complete, I only had 6 Rainbow Chard and an errant solitary French Dwarf Bean to plant out. The Chard went into the next available slot in the Brassica bed whilst the bean joined the rest of it siblings in bed 2. Once watered in, I continued the strimming of the site. I am leaving the flowering weeds around the edge but strimming the couch grass and horsetail that cover the rest of the plot.
So, that’s the end of my 2 weeks leave and I am happy with what has been done at the allotment. Next week I can, hopefully, get the bath into a suitable location and start filling up. I need to clear the broken fence post in order to get it removed or just moved. The focus of the coming week or two has to be clearing that top area in preparation for the polytunnel.
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