My afternoon assistant was the happy smiling and much healthier looking Suze!
List Ticker’s Dream Garden Day!
Season 3 – Autumn/Winter 2019/20
Yesterday [Sunday 27th October] was a cracking day, we had and enjoyed some much needed and wonderful sun .. yes it was chillier, until you started working directly in the sun, and l started to strip off the layers as l raked the garden, swept the pathways around the sheds and started to dig the beds and work on the compost areas.. All in all l had a great day – l had a lot of work to do, and whilst l got 85% of my listed tasks achieved l still have a few more to attend to this week before the dreaded rains return, so l wanted to really get on with things.
There are still loads of jobs here, whilst we catch up with the garden. As you may know l hired a gardener to come in for the last quarter of 2019 at a couple of times a month and attend to the basic gardening needs – mowing the lawns, bush and tree pruning and hedge trimming and the such like which meant that Suze and l could concentrate on preparing the garden ready for the 2020 vegetable season. But equally, as there is so much to get done, it just makes it easier to not have to multitask several things as we are both in recovery mode for our various ailments from this year.
The back of the garden near to the compost bins we are walled in by various neighbouring trees mostl holly and elder so every time l come into the garden to do some work it always looks like a bomb has gone off, but it can all be added to the compost heap [holly leaves not included]. I get a great deal of satisfaction when it looks tidy again.
My tasks for the day if l could get them done were :
Sweep garden, rake up wind debris, fill bird feeders.
Finalise the 2019 compost heap in readiness for decomposition process stage 1 and apply compost accelerator.
Clear compost area ready for new compost bin set up
Set up two modules of new compost bin system
Dig over the four raised beds, potato boxes – fresh compost, dig in, cover for winter
Identify containers and pots for 2020 vegetable planner.
Attend to Ava the Avocado.
Quick prune of the hazelenut tree
In fairness , l didn’t do badly – everything in the task list was achieved, although reaching a decision concerning Ava will be looked at in more detail today/tomorrow – as it is not a quick decision.
Suze had to pop into Canterbury to do some shopping and was gone all morning, but that wasn’t a problem as really her main help was required with the new compost module system and setting it up. So l had the morning to myself and unpoliced [ in so far as l was advised to not overdo it by Suze – but hey stuff needed doing and l did take breaks].
The POP’s empty the bird feeders really quickly and Suze and l were often wondering if the other birds ever got a chance to get to the seeds. I furnish the birds here over the winter months with as much as l can in regards to lard balls and various seed and nut mixes and we do attract not just PoPs [pigeons] but blue tits, robins, blackbirds, doves, magpies, chaffinches, great tits, dunnocks, wrens, sparrows, woodpeckers, yellow hammers, starlings and the occasional crow. So it’s quite a selection of wildlife and l love the notion of nature visiting the garden and feel a responsibility to doing my best and more so especially with so many species facing the decimation of their natural habitats.
I recently bought some new styled ‘caged’ feeders to ensure the bigger birds would not take control of the garden food sources l furnish – as in l am not here to purely feed the ever increasing pigeon stocks which l sometimes feel is the case!
But filling feeders was one of the easiest tasks of the day, so was a given in terms of success – but you know?
Baby Steps – ha ha! Still an ideal List Ticker’s Dream!
I had my little helper with me for a while … bless her – to look at her you wouldn’t instantly think …crippling arthritis, anal cancer or K9 dementia.
I decided to perform the easier tasks first before tackling the bigger shuffle … so raked and swept the garden and added the various collections to the compost heap, pruned the hazelnut tree/bush.
The hazle overhangs the wooden beds and boxes to a certain degree and l could see that if l wanted to do the work required with raised beds then l would need to tackle that. It was an easy cut and the leaves and softer twigs could be put into the compost heap.
The decision was made to keep the raised beds for another season and just plant differently than already we have done. The wooden potato boxes to the left of the image above haven’t yielded great returns for potatoes for the last couple of seasonswhich is either because of poorer sun quality, maybe over crowding or they simply hate the boxes! We will use potato bags next season which always provide great crops.
So we decided to plant the garlic into them this year as we really want to be able to produce elephant garlic. The raised beds will be used next season for courgettes and marrows and we will try something different this time around. But also the ones to the right of the image can also double up as ‘bringing on seedlings’ boxes for the first couple of months in spring.
With the beds especially, l dug them over and griddled the soil to release the roots from the 2019 runner bean crop, added in a healthy dose of sieved compost soils and dug them in again, then covered them with cardboard which prevents weeds from growing in their hibernation/non use time for the winter. Next year [if we are still here for the autumn/winter months we plan to run a later season for crops so covering them will not be an issue.]
Come next season, the cardboard will be pretty well hammered, but easy to break up and add to the compost heap.
I never managed to get all the pots weeded and soiled/composted, but l can do that this week and l will also cover them with protection. Covering also allows time for the microbial life within the soils to activate and turn the content over and this helps enrich the nutrient levels. But l was able to get a much clearer idea of what pots we do have and what containers we are going to need in order to carry out our new strategy for square foot gardening using containers only. I recently bought some new environmentally friendly fabric planters and l think these will feature very heavily in the new 2020 season for vegetable growth.
I am quite excited to see how these perform as they do arrive in a host of sizes and from what l have read they are providing some excellent results to gardeners. Not being plastic is also a real bonus as Suze and l are desperate to reduce the amount of plastic growers we have in the garden here.
Once all the smaller tasks were achieved, the most exciting time for me was starting to work with the compost heap. I love composting, l love everything about it and being able to start work on it again provides a huge source of therapy for my wellbeing. But there was a lot of work to be done … attend first to the existing compost heap and finalise that down in readiness for the content transfer in November to the new system which in truth is only next weekend sometime, providing the weather is dry. But it also meant l could add the nutrient compost accelerator in – which is as you may have read in previous episodes the collection of urine. Suze was pleased at this – as she was tiring of seeing bottles of my urine outside the back door!
The best way to use ‘human pee’ is to not add it direct but to dilute it down and l tend to add 40% water to the overall content and then add it to the heap itself by watering it over the top, but there is an interesting read here should you wish to look into it for your personal understanding: Human Pee Added to Compost Boosts Crops
I am planning in a different set of rules for composting this year as in ‘no rules’ but l will write about that a little in the next episode. As many of you know l tend to follow a green, brown, bracken layer of composting and decomposting – but with the new system – l thought l would change that slightly this year and apply a different strategy mixed with the existing one. But for the time being my task was to finish off the heap and start to clear the area for the new set up.
See you in part 2