It feels such a long time since we were last working the ground and planting, but the last couple of days we have started for the new growing season. Although we have had a period of wet weather and the land has been quite wet, the use of ground cover fabric over the winter has allowed us to start working the ground quite quickly.
The ground on the right of this shot was covered all winter, it is pretty much weed free and drys out quickly when the fabric has been removed.
I have discovered a new way our marking out our 30inch wide beds by using a bent length of steel bar with two uprights spaced 30 inches apart. Bryan Irving, one of our volunteers gave me this idea and it has really speeded up marking out the beds. You simply put the ‘staples’ at each end of the bed and then quickly run out a rope up one side, around the staple and then down the other. This rope is tensioned with a ‘wagoners’ knot to a peg in the ground.
When your done, the next bed is placed 18 inches from the holes left by the first staple. We were planting onions using this method and once one bed marked out and worked, a team could be planting it up with onions whilst I moved on to mark out and work up the next bed.
After lightly rotavating the surface 2-4 inches, the basic procedure for working the bed is to first mark it out. Next I scattered some chicken manure pellets on the surface and then two of us would work down the bed, one on each side with a digging fork. We didn’t turn the soil, just pushed in the fork as far as it would go in, then pull back on the handle to lift and break up the surface. This puts air into the soil and breaks up any ‘pan’ that may have developed from rotavating.
We next broke up the surface with the Wolfgarten soil mill or a rake. Finally, I marked out the bed with 3 rows scored into the surface with our row marker. Onions are then planted by pushing them tail first so the sets are just below the surface. Raking some loose earth over the top of the sets finishes off the job.
For those interested in learning about our growing methods I will post some extra photo’s on just how we grow our onions in a future post.
The garlic battered by Storm Doris is recovering and we have plants growing well in the poly tunnel. I have some of the more delicate ones such as tomatoes and peppers in my tiny heated glasshouse at home. It will be late April or even May before these get planted out.
If you want to learn about our organic growing techniques come along on one of our volunteer days and I can take you through the methods and tools that we use.
Volunteer day’s are normally Mondays, Thursdays and Sundays from 10am until around 3:30pm.