Season 3 – Autumn/Winter 2019/20
The Garden Presents …
Suze would be the first tell you, that l am hard to buy for when it comes to presents be this birthday or even Christmas … l don’t really have any requirements and as l have aged, it gets a lot harder for those looking to gift me with presents.
This Christmas as of yet, l have not received any presents … Suze and l agreed that after she returned from her visit to her family in Devon we would celebrate then with the exchange of gifts, although l played the sneaky just before she left and let her have one of her presents in the form of her favourite ‘Spa’ and their vouchers. But, l am just not that big on presents and especially on the receiving. I love giving them, but don’t always like receiving them.
I do know that l have an electric shaver from Suze though, which will be well received as l am tiring of wet shaving which l have been doing for 40 years this year. So, you see, most of the presents l do receive are either practical or l know what l am getting as l am not a huge fan of surprises either.
This year however, not too different to previous years, l didn’t have any requirements … well except one … l wanted to see some nice weather – so l could get out into the garden and catch up and finish off season 3, ready for season 4 or what will become known to my readership as Season 4 – 366 Days of Gardening on account of next year being a Leap Year!
I will write about this in due course, but the season of 2020 will not be displaying just the crops and harvests of Spring and Summer and a smidgen of Autumn – no, it will be starting on January 1st and finishing on December 31st. A full season, showing the seeding, planting, growiing on, harvesting, successes and failures, experiments and the composting, the wildlife gardening side – the whole shebang.
We have had a lot of rain this Winter, it has been raining for weeks and weeks with very little and few breaks inbetween showers- it has been a little demotivating. Of course, l have no right to mumble and grumble when l consider the terribleness of the situation in Australia in recent times and my heart breaks at the losses and hardships they are all experiencing. Equally, there have been terrible floodings in the UK, never mind all the other problems around the world tying in with extreme weather conditions.
What l really wanted was to just get a small window of opportunity to finish off the compost and be able to start Turn 2 and finish with Turn 3. I wanted to get some of the wild gardening introductions performed and hopefully get the garlic into the ground as they were starting to become a little potbound.
With the rains, it was making everything look a little bleak … l caught a break briefly on Monday 23rd just gone with some nice weather for a few hours and manged to start and finish Turn 2 and Unit 2 of the compost before it started raining yet again.
This was very well received, as it meant that if l could just get Turn 3 and Unit 3 finished then the slow composting process could stop and when l start Turn 4 in January , l could commence the hot composting process and really start to get the project underway. But l was determined to not stop with Unit 2 till l had finished and whilst Suze was concerned with me overdoing it, l assured her that with the arrival of the sieving unit and the table, it would not be so back breaking and it wasn’t. That was indeed a solid investment.
Once you get into a pattern of movement, things work smoothly. It wasn’t long before Unit 2 was empty, Turn 2 completed and a whole new tub of compost was produced with a healthy start on a new tub to boot. It is indeed a seriously great looking end product too, so l was very pleased.
Tuesday 24th was another let down as it rained all day, but Christmas Day 25th the sun was a brilliant shine! This meant l could start Unit 3 and Turn 3 and finalise the whole cold composting process and prepare and ready it for Turn 4 next month.
With the good weather l achieved my wish, all three bins are now in the position l need them to be in as in Unit 1 and Unit 2 with cold compost and Unit 3 empty, ready for the contents of Units 1 and 2 to be dug into Unit 3 with Turn 4 next month.
Turn 3 was a good Turn, it showed me that the compost heap was in a very healthy position with some excellent worm culture within. The purpose of the Turns was to ensure that the older compost that hadn’t received Turnings last year due to my shoulder being injured and therefore the compost content from late 2018 and early 2019 would be able to be used with the garden wastes from Summer and Autumn 2019 and all could be blended and composted together to make one solid content and all would be on the same equal balances ready for the Turnings to commence properly in January.
Healthy and active compost with lively worm cultures.
During the Turns l was interested to see a few things that l have discussed in previous episodes: 1] was that a red cabbage head that had been placed into the old compost system back in March of this year had not decomposed. I have made reference to this before that solid objects should be broken down into smaller pieces to help speed the process up. This head was put in to the system as a whole piece and as you know these days l shred everything in the blender, one of the reasons is to avoid this presenting itself as a problem. I broke the head into a lot of smaller pieces and it will now start to decompose.
March 2019 – December 2019 [Red Cabbage Head – no decomposition]
2] Was that some of the old runner beans which had been thrown into the heap in August were now sprouting, so these were removed and thrown into the compost tea/weed tea bin, where they would die off and add to the nutrients of the teas.
This bin is brewing up very nicely indeed, and if ever l need a pee when l am out gardening, l just trot along to here and pee in the bin to add to the whole mixture.
Several times during the process of sorting these compost Turns out, l have used liquids from here to act as an accelerator and activator both for the heaps. Old weeds, roots and small twigs are added with every turn. For the record … yes to the askers it does reek! Hence why it has a lid! The weeds that were initially placed into this five weeks ago are slowly breaking down.
When l am dressing the bottoms of the empty compost bins in readiness for new Turns and content to be added, l use cardboard scrunchies – these add to the layers for drainage as well. I also make a note to check that the boxes are draining excess fluids off nicely.
In addition to adding cardboard scrumchies and layers [to encourage worms from beneath the ground to come to the surface] l also ensure that l add cardboard inbetween levels of the Turning process.
Finally with Unit 3 empty and Unit 2 topped, l added some more cardboard, some chicken manure pellets and a healthy watering of the compost/weed tea to get the content ready for Turn 4 next month, l also included a recent swede blending to encourage some microculture to travel from the bottom of the heap to the top up through the content itself.
To be able to achieve this finished work on the 25th was a really cool present. Simple is always best with me. But the good weather stayed longer and so l was able to start the second project of the day which was to finally plant out my pot bound garlic seedlings.
I readied a raised bed, by empting the contents of one of the newly sieved compost bins into it and raked it over ready for the biodegradable pots to be planted 4-5″ deep in the soils and started the planting process.
Once all the seedlings were planted, l covered them with straw then gave them a good settling in watering with rainwater … although they received yet another more natural watering most of today as well. The straw mulch helps to keep them snug as well as resist the urge to push the bulbs upwards out of the soil. Once that was done l re covered with the wet cardboards the remainder of the unused bed space. Hopefully they’ll take and come next Spring we will have garlic to harvest.
So by this time with the composting complete, the garlic seedlings planted out and still the sun shining, l decided to start a small project off with regards rewilding the garden with some new bird residences. I don’t know if they’ll ever get used by regular garden visitors perhaps they need to be a bit weathered, but l read that if we can help out our avian wildlife then we should at least try, if only for passing traffic for part of the season … it’s something. I put six into the garden in various locations, they will be moved again [provided they are not being used ] next Spring, but l am hoping the Winter will weather them a little.
So all in all, l was very pleased with everything .. of course the best present of all, is this little girl below who is still with us. She can be terribly frustrating with her pacing, puffing and panting with the K9 dementia, but she is a fighter and considering the vets said she would probably not be with us now, she is doing very well indeed. She is wise, she chose to watch her old man from the top of the steps and hardly ventures into the cold grounds of the garden though … but, l got the things l needed to get done – done.
Till the next episode of ‘Doin’ The Dirt’ thanks all for reading!
She is a far cry from this photo taken 26th December 2015, but she still looks as pretty.
Ps – we finally managed to get Scrappy’s claws cut on Monday, a lovely lady and her daughter came to the house and clipped her claws.
Anyway l’ll take my leave of you now
Thanks for reading everyone, till the next time …
Happy Festivus and Christmas folks!