Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Mr Rotavator and The Slug Squad.

The Slug Squad
I'd been waiting for this moment. The soil has gradually been drying out, though receiving the odd top up of water. A week of fine, dry weather made conditions look promising and when the forecast for the weekend was of blue skies and balmy temperatures (well, relatively) I was chomping at the bit to dust down Mr Rotavator and try to turn the soil on some of my veg beds. I have 8 beds for perennials, which don't need too much work and another 36 beds in The Wheel, my geometric arrangement of veg beds (post on this coming very soon). That's not to mention the fruit beds and the 'Spare Veg Patch' where I grow the larger veg such as pumpkins, sweetcorn and my fodder crops.
The garlic I've already planted is doing very well.

I desperately needed to rotavate the patches where the last of the garlic - a bit late I know - was going to be planted as well as the shallot patch and the bed reserved for broad beans. Next on the list were the potato beds, as I'm hoping to get the earlies in next weekend. Finally, I wanted to turn the soil between the asparagus ridges so I can mound up the ridges again.

Unfortunately it's often not just a case of running the rotavator over the bed. If any perennial weeds have crept in, this would be a sure way of spreading them. The weed situation is improving year on year as I gradually wear them down, the dandelions especially. But nettles and docks are always appearing, particularly if the beds were slightly neglected at the end of the previous year. The good news is that, at this time of year, their root systems are not too well developed and the soil is wet enough to get them out properly.

My aim for Sunday was to turn the soil in ten beds. This would be over a quarter of the total and would be a good start to the year. The longer I can stay ahead of myself, the better. For there will inevitably come a point in the year when deadlines start slipping and ideal timings are not met.
The soil was good. Just dry enough so that most of it did not stick to my wellies or clog up the rotavator. The sun bore down all day and, in the company of the chickens and the duck slug squad, who have learned to come to the sound of the rotavator, I pressed on with the task.
The Slug Squad follow the rotavator around,
snaffling up any poor creature unlucky enough to be exposed.

By late afternoon I had weeded and turned an impressive twenty veg beds. How long would that have taken with hand tools? Yet I didn't even have to top up the petrol once. I find it amazing that such a little quantity of fuel can save so much time and energy.

I sat on my favourite bench in the middle of the veg plot, enjoying a fine bottle of beer and contemplating what had been an extraordinarily productive and enjoyable weekend.
In the fading evening light, I watched the tiny flies bouncing up and down over the sign in the centre of my veg plot.

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