Week 20

We are still enjoying the warmer weather, though it is not as hot as it was last week, back to average temperatures for this time of year. It is also the first day of summer, the longest day of the year, the summer solstice.

The plan for this week is to plant a load of successional plants that are ready to ‘go out’ and continue to clear what’s left of the old compost area. This is on top of the usual watering and weeding!

Tuesday 21 Jun – the summer solstice and the sun was shining all day. Managed to get the allotment reasonably early before it got too warm, surprised to find I was the first one there today. Cracked straight on with the planting of the Pak Choi in the bath bed and weeded the front end of bed 2 in preparation for the rest of the veg.

Quick coffee and back out in the glorious sunshine to plant up the French Dwarf Beans Cannolletti, Broad Beans Longpod and Celery. The Broad Beans are the third sowing I have made this year, well technically the second as the ones I am cropping now were planted as seed on November and planted out in January. Hopefully we will have beans until September.

I still had the very weedy remains of the old compost area to clear and what was left was a job for the mattock. It did not take time to realise that the problem was no just weeds. What I was uncovering was more carpet, chicken wire, glass, metal poles, and plastic sheeting! However, it was getting too hot, this will have to wait for another day again!

Wednesday 22 Jun – todays visit had but one aim and that was to finally clear the last of the old compost area. The biggest hurdle yesterday had been the carpet, well that was nothing compared to what I uncovered today. As I started clearing away the soil with the mattock and spade, I noticed that there was an increased occurrence of glass coming out of the ground.

Change of strategy, instead of mattock and spade, this was going to require a more methodical approach in my hands and knees slowly clearing the soil with a hand trowel. This was going to be the only way to ensure I had separated out all the glass and by lunchtime, I had filled 1.5 buckets with glass fragments including 2 pieces of frame with glass attached.

The methodical approach continued into the afternoon, and by the time I had finished for the day, I had filled on refuse bin to the top! What was left on the ground was a tangle of chicken wire with glass above and below it plus a large piece of metal work protruding from the ground. Hopefully this will only require one more day to finally get cleared.

Saturday 25 Jun – I was determined to get this final corner cleared today come hell or high water. Three things were slowing me down, the glass, the chicken wire and the carpet. Slowly trowelling away it started to become evident that the majority of the glass had been removed. It was now just a concrete fence post and then the wire and carpet.

The more soil I shifted the deeper the chicken wire appeared to go. However, as I got deeper, I was uncovering bricks, stones, railway related metalwork and ceramic electrical insulators! It was evident that this area had been used as a general dumping ground for the whole plot and I eventually pulled three wheelbarrows of rubbish out of this corner today.

The chicken wire finally gave up the ghost and came out of the ground, this allowed easier access to the carpet which thankfully come up fairly easily as a single strip 4 metres long! Once all of the rubbish was cleared from the area it was just a matter of moving the remaining soils and filling in the bramble root holes that peppered the plot.

Sunday 26 Jun – This was a short visit to the plot today. I had some kale to plant out some more lettuce seeds to sow and the polytunnel to peg out. After a quick weed, the Kale went into bed three and the lettuces in to the bath bed. Hopefully I can get a couple of quick crops out of the lettuce.

The main job for today was to mark out the area where the polytunnel was going to go. It is all very well planning it on paper but it is not until you peg out the corners and run cord around the pegs, that you realise how it will interact with other structures and whether it will fit.

It took a couple of attempts to find a solution that worked and that I was happy with. The criteria was that I had to be able to walk around the outside for maintenance and weeding, the door had to be in a logical and clearly accessible position and it had to follow the boundary line in accordance with the Parish Council permission clause.

Now that it is all marked up, I just need to level and prepare the ground and create the foundations. The frame of the polytunnel will sit on the ground surface but secured into the ground with 50mm timber spikes driven several feet into the ground. Around the outside will be a trench to take the bottom of the covering which will be infilled with rubble and capped with 60mm x 60mm paving slabs.

So, that brought an end to very frustrating but hugely satisfying week. I have finally managed to clear all of the old compost area and accumulated rubbish and put myself into a position to build the polytunnel. I have to plan the next few weeks carefully as I have an eye operation in 2 weeks time and will not be able to do any strenuous work on the plot for at least a week after, maybe more!

So all that remains now is to think about clearing the rubbish from the site.

The ever growing rubbish heap
The Polytunnel in its final location. Get 20% off you copy of VegPlotter using code DODDY at check-out

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