Saturday, 12 October 2013

The First Big Day of Rain

Today has seen the first day of the Autumn rain. It may have rained before now, but today is a constant heavy rain day and therefore a thinking about tomorrow day.

It'll be interesting to see what happens with the vegetable patch. Several weeks ago I made two beds of Stuttgart Onions in an area near the gate that normally floods. The area was deliberately dug up so that water wouldn't just sit on the surface and in the spring / summer there was a good crop of potatoes there. The patch was re-dug, manured and had some sand added to help break the clay and then a layer of hay / dried grass taken from a Salt Marsh was laid on top to keep moisture in during dry periods.

Onion beds, not raised
Initial inspections have shown using the grass mulch seems to be keeping the top of the soil moist which in theory will help to bring to the surface more worms and bugs which will lead to more of the top soil clumps being broken down by the Spring.

The onions in this patch have started to grow very well. At least 5 to 10cm in height as they got the benefit from the last couple of weeks of good temperatures.

Raised Beds
The second veg patch on the other side of the field was dug much deeper, with much more manure and sand added. At least 12 wheel barrows of well rotted mulch was added as well as 2 or 3 barrows of sand. A spade width channel was dug around the edge to stop weeds and grass encroaching but this also had the effect of raising the bed by another fork depth. The overall depth must be about 24", planted with onions, garlic and dwarf broad beans, some were taken from the summer seeds and some were from a packet. Again covered in Salt March Hay. 

Hopefully this second raised bed will be better at draining and with the amount of work put in, hopefully produce better onions as I'll be able to compare one side of the field with the other.

The Garlic bulbs were taken from the summer crop just like some of the Broad Beans so that will be an interesting test to see if I can grow on using our own seed.

During the week I also cut the long grass which was left on about half the field. It was cut down to about 5cm so that I could then take a rake and fork and scar some of the ground to sow some wild flower seed. During the Spring and summer there were a large variety of different grasses, docks, plantain and a few small flowers but I will start to add Yellow Rattle, Bird's Foot Trefoil and Agrimony seed from the Wildlife trust as well as sprinkle in some of the summer's Poppy Seeds and Corn Flower Seeds. Some of the Yellow rattle seed was placed in a freezer and some will be sown direct without being frozen for a few weeks.

While cutting the grass it became very obvious as to why the Wildlife people say leave an area of the garden to grow wild since I found 30 or so frogs, several toads and a load of hairy caterpillars that I think were Eyed Hawk Moths not to mention so mice/voles/shrew type things that moved too quick to identify. Must make a note to take a camera when I cut next year. Luckily the lawn mower went over the top of the frogs and many were seen hopping away just before the mower arrived.

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