I have been emptying a few of our compost bins recently, the compost is crumbly and smells earthy, a sure sign that it’s ready for use. The compost is rich in chicken manure, green waste and kitchen scraps. Tiger worms have certainly been doing their bit, our bins are literally wriggling with them. I shovelled the compost into a waiting wheelbarrow, then tipped it straight into some of the raised beds.
Now I’ve got some empty bins to fill with more magical compost-making ingredients.
Well, soil from our compost bins to be precise. It has been quietly rotting away for nearly a year now, rich in chicken poop and whatever else we could chuck at it, it looks and smells divine. We threw in some pretty manky matter into our compost bins and although we should of course expect to have crumbly, dark and gorgeous soil eventually, it still came as a pleasant surprise to see what had become of our scraps.
We emptied the bins and shovelled the soil into a wheelbarrow, then tipped it straight into some empty raised veg beds. My dad will be bringing some well rotted horse manure over in a few days time, this will be added to the soil and left to rest over winter, then we will be all set for the following spring time sowing.
The emptied bins are fast filling up again, the hens are contributing of course! We really must get around to making some extras from pallet wood.
Just a quickie update on the vegetable garden, sowing, seedlings and digging. We are still sowing like the clappers, all the seeds are germinating well so far, still waiting on the courgettes to make an appearance but so far so good.
Tomatoes and chillies have been sown and the tomatoes have already started to sprout. Runner beans will be started off in small pots this weekend, I don’t want to get caught out with a late frost or risk having the seed beans munched in the soil like last year.
The sprouts and cauliflower seedlings are doing very well outside in the mini greenhouse, some of the seedlings have their first set of true leaves. I have started off a second sowing of broad beans, the other plants are outside and doing well, even in the frost. We did lose some of the taller plants, but, I think that was my fault for allowing them to go too stringy before planting them out. We had to start the broad beans indoors because none of the vegetable beds were ready for planting.
The sweet corn seedlings are really doing well on the sunny windowsill, they will be planted out as soon as the risk of frost is over. The onion sets are coming along great as well as the garlic. No major dramas so far.
The vegetable garden is coming along slowly but we are getting there. We are still having a hell of a battle with nettles on the second half of the plot. Our very friendly neighbour asked us why we don’t just spray the blighter’s and be done with it, I politely answered that we want to be as organic as we can, otherwise what is the point? We may as well not bother trying to grow our own if we are going to pump the soil full with nasty stuff. He probably thinks we are barmy of course and cannot see the point in us out there, every spare hour we can grab, digging like crazy people possessed.
Anyhoo, we now have 5 lovely vegetable beds all fed with lovely well-rotted manure and organic compost, ready to nurture our seedlings and sowings. Oh, that reminds me, must get the carrots, beets, peas and parsnips in soon!
Oh yes, the sweet smell of success is finally in the air. After many weeks, days and long hours, blood (quite literally, those bramble thorns are evil) sweat and near to tears we have at last rid the vegetable garden plot of those wretched brambles. And the roots. Yeee ha!
There are now 2 workable and very usable vegetable beds, already planted up with second early potatoes, onion sets, garlic and broad beans. What a difference it makes to be able to see the fruits of our very hard labour come together, to actually be able to get out there and sow, rather than wade through 12 feet of brambles. Fantastic. Another 2 beds will be finished by this weekend, then bed number 5 will be next on the list to get into position. This will still leave a lot of space free so we need to make up our minds if another fruit tree will take position or to go for more beds. Hmmm decisions.
There’s still lots of work do, more agony to place upon our already aching muscles and limbs. We are not even half way through the whole plot that we have allocated for vegetable and soft fruit growing, but, the fact that the brambles roots are all out, thats got to make the whole process a little easier. Nettles are still a problem in next section of the plot, there are lots of them and those roots are just mind blowing. Its like an underground spaghetti frenzy going on. We are finding that digging at least a foot of the top soil is removing the runners, then, digging down a little further reveals the backbone of it all. Its hard going but its getting somewhere now, looking like a vegetable garden, behaving as a vegetable garden, which makes it all worth while really.
To improve the soil and feed it we have been using organic vegetable compost, those greedy bramble roots must have really taken it out of the soil even though its fully workable and seems quite reasonable considering. We have been composting like mad since moving into the property in November, sadly our own homemade compost is not quite ready to use just yet. Its going to be left to rot down, hopefully to be used this autumn. The hens oblige everyday with fresh droppings and we are actually running out of room to compost it all. My parents are now getting lots of free bags of straw and chicken poop till we get our act together and make wooden compost bins from the free pallets that we have been collecting. Anyone fancy some free bags of poo?