I made full use of the good weather over the weekend. I spent about 3 hours working/sweating in my little back garden on Saturday, lawn mowing and re-edging, pruning, mulching, more seed sowing and lots of weeding. And by weeding, I don’t just mean pulling out a dandelion here and there, I mean a huge nettle patch at the back of one of my borders that was taking over the other plants. Their roots can run a long way and they didn’t want to come out without a fight. Also, they just happened to be growing behind a spiky shrub which I had to push past to reach them, so despite covering up and using long industrial strength gloves, my arms still look as though I’ve been in a massive cat fight. Between that and the stinging nettles, I’m not sure which attacked me more. Oh, there’s nothing like a spot of gardening to help you relax and unwind at the weekends! I certainly enjoyed a hot shower and a large glass of white wine afterwards.
Then on Sunday, to add insult to injury to my weary limbs, John and I spent a 4 hour session on the allotment.
There were any numbers of tasks to tackle, but I decided to deal with the overflowing wooden compost bin at the bottom end, which needed emptying out, if only to save it from collapsing under the weight of it’s contents. My lower back twinged just looking at it. I wish I’d photographed it before I emptied it. Turning compost out is one of those jobs I put off for as long as possible, but it’s always a satisfying relief when it’s done.
The bin is one of those wooden slatted ones that you build up by interlocking the planks together. The idea being that you can deconstruct it to empty out the compost and then rebuild it again. It’s a bit of an effort, but it works fine.
Amazingly, considering the wet winter we’ve had, the contents mostly consisted of dry grass and stems which had not decomposed into a lovely crumbly compost, but resembled hay more than anything. There were about 4 barrow loads of soil like compost which I used to top up the bean trench, but I forked out the dry stuff to use as a top dressing mulch. So it went onto the garlic bed, around the daffodils and Sweet Williams (all of which were weeded a couple of weeks ago) and over the rhubarb which has been replanted behind the shed, and is taking time out to re-gather its strength this year.
This thick hay-like mulch will help to suppress the weeds, act like an insulating duvet to keep the beds (no pun intended) cosy and warm, keep the moisture in after it rains, and eventually it will rot down and be taken into the soil by the earthworms where it will release nutrients. To be honest, I never make great compost on the plot, I think because there isn’t enough of a variety of ingredients being added. My home compost bin, which gets all of my kitchen scraps, (including a vast amount of used tea bags) shredded office paper and cardboard, does far better, producing rich, black, loamy compost. But the compost that I do produce on the plot is always fine for mulching material, and you can’t beat a good mulch.
John put his back into this little effort …
… he’s my digging hero!
I harvested a big bag of PSB, more leeks and parsnips and joy-oh-joy, my first bunch of bright lipstick red tulips.
My only problem now is that I can’t get out of a chair without a hoist!