Monday, 21 June 2010

Swimming anyone?

The sheets cover 1.8m (6ft) deep holes
 We had a lovely week, can't remember if it rained at all but we managed to get  a lot done in the gardens and on the land, until the weekend that is. Wouldn't you know it, it started to rain as they were boring holes for the foundations of our barn on Saturday. Not impressed! It started off okay but as they dug the rain started and by the time they finished it was pelting it down. We were left with a request to dig a trench to drain the water away from the barn site and that meant that Ian had to put the back hoe onto the tractor, in the rain. That didn't go very well, he was tinkering about for ages but I wasn't leaving the polytunnel to find out what the problem was as I only had a lightweight rain mac and Ian had the full set of waterproofs.

Swimming pool perhaps?
Eventually Ian got the back hoe on and working and the next stage was to dig a drainage channel, which was easier said than done as there were now several very deep holes in the area to be avoided. Another problem was that he couldn't really see how deep he needed to go, he needed a water level in it and that meant I had to dig ditches (sound familiar?) from the pools of water to drain into the trench. Eventually we managed to get a working drainage channel with some feeder ditches but I was soaked through - my anorak was clearly not up to keeping the rain off that was falling (it is quite old though). While Ian sorted out the tractor I had to try and dry off as best I could in the polytunnel and walk up and down to keep warm while drinking a cup of tea (of course!). I was so cold by the time we got home Ian had to light the woodstove for me. It certainly made an appealing case for getting a woodstove into the polytunnel as soon as possible.

We now have aubergines (the second from the right) and
outdoor tomatoes (right) as I think it is proving too cold
to put them out.
Scaling up is an interesting exercise, it certainly shows up the problems of multi-site work such as the tools are never in the right place, except Ian's which now live in the truck; mulching is a great time saver and so all the hay that we stacked earlier on in the year is coming in very handy. The mulching serves two functions, one to keep the weeds down but also to keep the ground moist around the plants - very useful in the polytunnel. It also shows the use of the hay cocks that the Latvians set up in the field which usefully dry the grass while it is stacked. Our hay stack is quite wet in the middle, which is fine for us as it will compost eventually but not for bedding for animals or for mulching around plants. Having the hay stacked up in fields drying and only taking what you need when you need it, makes a lot more sense now. It does mean also that you do not need perfect weather to cut the hay although that would be better, as it can be stacked there and left in the field. We do have some of the wooden pole structures to make the hay cocks but not enough for the area we will cover, a job for Ian I guess. Scaling up could also mean a change of practice. I prefer to make wide beds that we can walk around and weed from but on a larger scale it might be better to plant long rows which will be easier to hoe between, unless of course the mulching will be effective enough on a large scale. Trial and error, I think!

The pond is very full now, and we were worried that it
might dry up on us not long ago so Ian extended it
We quite enjoy looking at what the Latvians use in the garden and we have learnt quite a bit just lately. A lot of the gardens have got bottles on lightweight sticks and we weren't quite sure what they were for until we stood next to a patch one day when a slight breeze was blowing and we realised they were making a clacking sound, bird scarers obviously! We have used that idea in our orchard to keep off the deer, not sure if it is effective or the deer just aren't bothered about our orchard at the moment but at least they haven't been back. One garden has just constructed a support for his broad beans out of thin wood poles which looks a useful idea to copy, and many of the Latvians pile up their weeds in an area of the garden and then grow their pumpkins or courgettes (zucchini) in them, the wide leaves smother any re-growth.

So full we now have a water feature
Well I hope that all makes sense as I am not quite with it today, as I had a tooth removed this morning. I lost the filling that was put in about two weeks ago and there was no point in a having a crown made for it as I managed to lose two of those in quick succession when my tooth first started causing problems many years ago. I decided, therefore, the best thing to do was to remove it. About half way through I was wondering if it was ever going to get pulled, or whether the young slip of a lass was going to have to call in reinforcements. She kept shaking her wrist and it took rather a long time with the assistant holding onto my jaw. The poor dentist looked exhausted by the time she finished and I am not quite sure who will ache the most tomorrow, me or her!

A butterfly that was trapped in our polytunnel


Mavis said...

Another busy week, I see. The polytunnel looks huge from the inside. It seems that this year you are doing a lot of the preparation and groundwork before you can really go full into the business. Hopefully next year there will be less digging ditches and more planting and reaping.

Joanna said...

It has indeed been a busy week but this week is quieter due to the rain. Time to catch up with other jobs I think.

Your right about a lot more preparation work needed before we go full into business but I think we are getting there with the bushes and herbs. We were really set back this year because the polytunnel was so late in being completed with the vegetables but at least we can get plenty of seeds for next year and compost.