The month of January is flying by! Until I began writing this post, I was sure I only had a single week to write about.
Week 16 was another wet one, typical for the time of year. I don’t mind the rain too much, and I don’t mind cold too much, either. The combination of the two together – no thanks!
Week 17, however, has been largely dry. Still cold, and the odd drop of rain here and there. I have, however, managed to get a few hours on the plot most days. Those few solid hours for a few days make a huge difference now. Finally, it feels like progress is being made.
Weeds are still appearing in parts, but I’ve taken a view to deal with them as I go. So, when a bed is ‘finished’ and ready for manure – it gets weeded. Manure has then been promptly deposited in the aforementioned bed before the weeds get a sniff of daylight.
As of today, I have 18 out the 24 ‘main’ beds in place. Only half a dozen have so far been weeded and treated to a helping of manure, but it’s still massive progress. I’m hoping to have the remaining 6 beds in place over the coming week, along with filling with manure. 2 will be left without manure, for carrots and parsnips.
Thereafter, I’ll place a generous amount of woodchip on the surrounding paths.
Raising the Levels
The beds are slightly raised and ‘exposed’ at the bottom currently. The bottom of the beds aligns with the communal paths. The ground on the plot itself falls slightly below this level, hence the exposed bottoms. My intention is to build up the levels – primarily using woodchip, which will further improve the drainage. Manure is being added as much as possible, and a top dressing of compost and topsoil will be added to each bed before planting.
As I’m placing the timber – particularly the stakes, which go around 1 foot into the current ground level, I’m still coming across a huge amount of rubble. I’d already removed dozens of barrow loads of bricks, old pots and concrete. Most of what I’m uncovering is at least a foot down now, and not an easy task to extract!
There hasn’t been any recurrence of the flooding I saw previously, though we haven’t had a huge amount of prolonged rain since then, either.
As I mentioned above, this coming week I hope to get in place the remaining 6 large beds. In doing so, I’ll also be creating a single long bed that will form a ‘bank’ to the new drainage ditch. One side is already completed. Once the other side is done, I can mark out the new ditch ready for digging out. The current width of this area is 2 metres. It matches the width of the greenhouse base – the door of which will face the ditch, and ‘banks’ either side of. My intention is to make the ditch 50cm wide – a little larger than the current one.
That will leave me with a ‘growing area’ either side of around 75cm. This area will be accessible using the paths either side of the beds. If this sounds confusing – and it probably does – take a look at the plot plan, which shows it.
Unusually for me, the plan remains as it was 2 months ago – and I’m happy with how it’s coming together.
Once the main beds are in place – all of which measures 3m x 1m – I’ll finish the shed and greenhouse bases. I plan to fill these with scalpings, dress in sand and lay flags to form a solid base. Exactly how I’m to accomplish this is somewhat in the air, however – my fragile body isn’t quite up to the task of manhandling flagstones!
Thereafter, there are a few other smaller beds and edging to put in place to complete the border, ‘flower garden’ and ‘fruit garden’, though those should be fairly straightforward.
At some point before March, I hope to lay the hedging around the edge of the plot too. Due to the ‘economical’ way I’ve structured the beds and timber though, the hedge can’t go in until all the timber is in place. That creates a deadline, of sorts, for me to get things finished.
Staging and Sowing
I’m also conscious of the fact some seeds should be sown now, or soon at least. Right now, I have nowhere to do this. The polytunnel is still doubling up as a shed for the time being. I have in there all the timber I (hopefully) need to assemble some staging. I am, however, no joiner – and I’m not yet convinced my rudimentary staging plan is going to be strong enough. The plan for that is still very much a work in progress for the time being.
In previous weeks I’ve been very frustrated at what I considered to be little progress. I’ve known personally just how much work has gone into it – and how much time the simplest task can sometimes take. But, visually, it appeared slow.
In the last few days though, I stumbled across some photos of the plot when I first took it on. While I’m far from the finishing line, it’s sometimes useful to look back at what you started with!