Saturday, April 07, 2012

All from nothing... (part 9)

Our efforts to transform an unused piece of land into a productive vegetable garden. 

It's been over a week since I had a chance to work on the plot, merely because I was busy at my place of employment. Last week, my Dad popped over with his rotovator, but we soon realised that the soil was too sandy for it to be really effective, and we wouldn't need to use it after all.

This is something of a double edged sword - on one hand, as the soil is sandy, it's very easy to dig and also well drained. On the other hand, it makes it unsuitable for some veg to grow and also nutrients in the soil will be leeched away more quickly. The solution is to enrich the soil with compost, which will hopefully bind it together while also improving the quality of the soil. 

I discovered that there was a pile of manure in the farmyard that had benefited from years of rotting down, resulting in compost of the same class that Peter had found up the fields when he was over. I can't stress enough how great a find this compost was - it was really necessary that I mix good compost with the soil, and trudging up and down the fields collecting wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow (and taking forever doing it) wasn't a realistic solution. The compost in the yard was merely metres from where the allotment stands, so was ideal. 

This morning, after everyone getting up, washed, dressed and broken their fast, I headed over to get some work done. I borrowed a wheelbarrow, and began at the bottom corner of the allotment, forking through the soil again, but this time, I removed all the stones and scutch root that I found. After I filled the barrow with as many stones I could manage, I disposed of them, and then shoveled a load of compost into it. I then forked the compost through the earth I had just cleared of stones. The result was that soil became far more "loamy" than it had been previously. 
Hopefully this will make a big difference to how well our veg grows when we plant it on the plot. 

Then I'd repeat the process. So I was beginning to appreciate how poet Patrick Kavanagh felt about the soil of his county. It was stony and grey. Another poem from my school years struck me as I toiled - "Digging" by Seamus Heaney (my spade sinking into gravelly ground). Finally on this literary roll, I began to understand the mentality of Bull McCabe, doing his best to transform a piece of barren rock into a fertile field. 

There were moments where this routine was broken, of course. At one point, as I was digging (or rather, forking!), I had my back turned to the electric fence that runs along one side of the allotment. Busy as I was, I didn't realise that my back was against the wire. Suddenly I felt the most terrific shock running through my body, and the next thing I knew, I was lying a few feet away on the ground. I won't be so complacent in the future!

After a couple of hours, I had a couple of square metres finished. The going is a lot slower that I would like, but I may as well do the job properly when I'm doing it. With any luck, my efforts will be repaid with dividends. 

 The new improved "loamy" soil 

No comments: