Monday, 2 April 2012

The Perfect Synergy of Man and Machine

Monday 2nd April 2012

As well as my designer veg patch, I have been trying to cultivate a large area down by the pig enclosure. In fact, part of it used to be a pig pen, so I am hoping that all that muck has done some good for the soil.
This area is for veg which take up a lot of space, such as squashes and maincrop potatoes. Also for sowing excess seeds - some of the seed packets come with enough seed to grow a forest. Maybe, too, an area for fodder crops and for flowers for the vase.

I attempted to cultivate this area last year, but the task was daunting. I reluctantly, and against my instincts, treated the long grass with glyphosate weedkiller. After this, a farmer came with his power harrow - this is the boy's toy of farmers, miraculously turning lumpy ploughed fields into beautifully neat, flat areas of perfectly tilled soil.

It looked beautiful when it was done, and the seed weeds which had been lying in wait really enjoyed their new facilities! Keeping on top of all this proved impossible, though I did manage a half-decent crop of mangelwurzels, a few patches of sunflowers and a line of spare runner beans. After this, though, the grass made a very determined attempt to re-cover the ground.

So I started this year staring at an area which very much resembled how it had looked at the very beginning. Don very kindly dragged the area with his tractor twice, which broke up the soil, dislodging or burying large clumps of turf and weed.

I have made friends with my new rotavator

This morning, it was finally time to deploy the new rotavator. I had been putting this off for two reasons. Firstly, I suspected I would have teething troubles which would stop me getting much done. Secondly, I feared it would not be able to cope with the mighty job ahead of it, which would make me despair of the task.

The spare veg patch
However, I had used all my allocated beds for early potato varieties, so today it was time to take the plunge or face having nowhere to plant the maincrop potatoes which will take us through next winter.

Until I get to work it more and add plenty of organic matter, the soil in this area can be a bit cloggy when wet and like bricks when too dry. So I had been waiting for just the right moment. Any further delay and I would be running the rotavator over an impenetrable concrete pad.

Well, as you can see, me and Mr Rotavator got along fine, though he kept trying to run away from me for a while. He woke up muscles which have been sitting lazy and unused for quite a while. I made a more than satisfactory start to the job and am feeling much happier about being able to manage everthing now.

Artichoke Alley

Sue magically commands the plant label towards her

The first crop to go in the new patch was the mountain of Jerusalem artichokes produced from the ten or so tubers we grew last year. So this year we will have 161 plants! I hope the pigs like them! If not, at least they look good and they'll provide a windbreak for more delicate vegetables. Sue got stuck into this job with gusto while I played with my new toy. 

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