UPDATE – A year or so on, I’ve found much better ways to do this. It’s called No Dig and it’s more productive and it’s much easier. I’m blogging about that soon.
Ooooh me back! This post is most definitely not about how to dig without hurting your back, I have no idea how to avoid feeling like an old man afterwards. What it is, is a few different ways to make a pretty looking flower garden into a muddy mess and hopefully a money saving adventure.
This is only the second time I’ve tried any gardening. The first time was an abject failure, caused by the apocalypse brought on by our first newborn. Those poor poor tomato plants. My aim is get a bit self-sufficient, bit by tiny weeny bit. We’ve just had a second baby, so I’m keeping it real simple. Potatoes are where it’s all happening in the JK household. They’re obviously a good staple but also they clean the soil or something like that. Basically next year should be better both for the soil and for us, so we can be more adventurous.
Learning curve one done. Now to try again. First I needed to dig. We have three levels to our garden or plots as I should now call them, and have employed three different techniques of organically clearing it. If you want to know how… read on dear fellows.
I’ll start with the bottom plot, this one is just about waiting. I dug out some of the major flowers and trees. Then just covered the thing with a tarp. I did that just before Christmas. So next Christmas I can take the tarp off and bung a mahooosive amount of horse poo on it, no digging, yay, hopefully. Ready to be planted for spring 2015. Digging in Winter or Autumn means that any heavy clots will be broken down by frosts. Clots are a problem I am now facing with the top plot.
ETA: Use black tarp, I should have thought but blue tarp lets too much light through. The plants are still growing beneath. Aggggrrr!
The top plot was a strange sort of decking area. I couldn’t work out how is fitted with our garden, so I ripped it up, revealing lovely weed free earth. As I didn’t have to dig out plants and weeds, I just did the ‘single dig’ method. This is how to do it as described by my handy book ‘First Time Veg Grower’ –
“Start at one end of the area and excavate a trench to the depth of the spade’s blade, then transport the soil to the other end of the plot with a wheel barrow (or in my case plastic boxes). Now spread some well-rotted farmyard manure (we found a horse livery selling their horse poo for £1.25 a bag, we bought 8) in the base of the trench and dig another, dropping the soil into the first one. Carry on like this until you reach the end of the plot, removing perennial weeds and burying annuals. Fill the final trench with the soil removed from the first trench.”
Phew, that was hard work, the typing and the digging.
Apparently you have to be bald to garden, I qualify.
The middle plot is a bit more complicated. It was full of plants, and I didn’t have enough tarp to play the waiting game on that one. So how do I get rid of all these plants quickly in order to get veg in, so we can eat, save money and do fun things???
I took a quick look at some of those weed killers but it just felt a bit wrong. I also couldn’t imagine how I would keep the cats out of their toilet for however long you need to.
Before Christmas I dug it once, without really doing any research I just turned the soil over. I think this has killed back a bit of the flowers, but some spring plants are now coming back though. Time to double dig. First I’m going through and weeding what I can. Then I’m doing the same process as the single dig, but I’m doing a second sift through the soil for any plants and weeds and I’m also getting the fork and digging it in a forks depth and twisting and disrupting the earth in the trench, before putting the horse poo in it. I think I’ll have to really keep an eye on this plot, as I’m sure I haven’t got all the flowers that were in there. I’ll keep you updated as to whether this works.
The next step is planting the potato seeds, which are sitting in egg boxes growing their twisted little arms that will grow and become chips.