Saturday November 18th
The start of a glorious weekend weatherwise, and exhausting physically. Yesterday we had over an inch of rain, so despite the plots being well-drained, it was still very claggy and hard to work. Spent the morning hoovering leaves at home (and blowing up the leaf hoover, drat!) then packing the unhoovered ones into bags. Bit annoying, as they wonīt rot as fast now. But canīt be helped. Lugged three bagsful up to the plot and dumped them into the leaf bin (after evicting a load of apples from it). Picked up a lot of newly-dropped apples and shoved them into the second compost bin, now the brambles have retreated a bit. Then got going on the weeding. There were some really bad bits, with lots of matted grass and speedwell, and typically the worst ones were where the ground was dampest. Started off by attacking the end of the garlic bed, and found that the leftover bulbs that never made it home had rooted. Ooops. Weeded as far as the firebox but it was still claggy around it. Weeded the parsnip bed and cleared the sweetcorn. Chris was up, and we rescued the old carpet off her plot end and put it where the potatoes had been, so that wonīt grow any new weeds overwinter. Sadly the other piece of carpet is disintegrating and so Iīll have to get more at some stage. Need new paths as well! It doesnīt sound like much but sitting on a kneeling pad, shuffling about with a hand fork does get out all the weeds but takes time. I find it better than digging, as that just replants surface weeds. Chris prefers forking over the ground and hates the idea of handweeding. I learned to do it when my back was really bad, and it allowed me to get on and do stuff. Now I prefer it! Left when the sun set and the temperature dropped like a stone.
Sunday November 19th
Dawned very frosty after a clear night. A lot of the ground was still frozen and so hadnīt drained as much as Iīd hoped it would. Lugged up the last three bags of leaves (and noticed a load more have floated down already, so there may be more!) Todayīs major attack was the old onion bed, full of onions that didnīt get picked as they were rather too small. Next time I donīt care, theyīll come up anyway (and I wonīt trust Sir to do it!). But they have given me a bucketful of onion shoots, which will double up as spring onions in stir fries, so wonīt be wasted. Took ages to get the weeds out - the bindweed and couch was particularly bad there. But in the end, all that was left was some unbolted ruby chard and a verbascum. Iīm a softy. That could do with coming out but I need somewhere to put it! That timed things nicely for lunch, then it was the two beds Iīd been avoiding as they were wettest - the area by the old firebox and the bed directly in front of the shed.
Started with the area in front of the shed by the raised carrot box. This required sitting on a plank and weeding from the centre, since the path on the upper side is too high to be able to reach much. Gradually got the better of it, though a lot more soil than Iīd hoped for ended up stuck to the grass roots and in the bucket. Found a funny larva while I was at it - either a beetle larva or a cutworm. Without a book, I didnīt want to kill it without knowing what, so left it on the surface. It can crawl back under the soil or become lunch for a bird I expect.
Then the last bed (or thatīs what I thought...) - firebox - moved it onto the grass path and then had to pick up a lot of rusted bits of box liner that Iīd tipped out onto the soil with the gunk last week. Put the ex-contents of the box into a plastic bag to get dumped, then gradually worked my way along the bed getting out the bindweed. Thereīs a lot of stone at the end where the box was - this was adjacent to the area Iīd dubbed the rock face back in the spring, and I will have to deal with it in a similar way, i.e. excavating away at the bottom and getting shot of the stones. Then Iīll put manure into the subsoil bit and shift some topsoil in from elsewhere. Itīs due to get spuds next season so I need to have a nice deep soil!
Relief! Done! Ha...
Then I walked round the shed and realised Iīd forgotten the tomato bed and the daffodils. Argh. The daffs werenīt bad - apart from several baby docks which came out very rapidly. There were a few in the tomatoes too, which were also removed, but it was getting very cold as the sun had gone behind a cloud, and I was anxious to be off. Whatīs left in there wonīt hurt, so duly left it.
I have no idea when Iīm going to be able to get back up - the next weekend without something going on is in January, but hopefully Iīll be able to grab a day off when itīs fine and go to do the last bits of tidying plus getting more carpets. I suspect there will be occasional dashes up for some leeks or parsnips. But in the meantime, the beds are looking presentable (or are still occupied) so I can leave them in the hope they wonīt get too overrun by the new year.