The Size and Shape of it…

Just in case anyone was hanging desperately on my every post, eager to see exactly what my new vegetable empire looks like, here it is:

my new empire

Now, the wonders of perspective may mean that it doesn’t look as though it’s quite doubled in size, but you’ll just have to trust me when I say that the bit in red is twice as long as the bit in yellow.

And size does matter, as I’m finding out. The new new plot has been left to its own devices for a year which means it’s full of weeds, particularly grass, but with a fair smattering of buttercups, nettles, bindweed, dock and other fun things. It’ll get rotavated in the spring so I don’t have to really dig it but I am tring to turn it over and get the worst of the perennial roots out if I can, prior to mulching with a mixture of compost, manure and leaf mould (the raised-ish beds in the old old plot has either been done or has the overwintering crops in it). We’ve had a couple of fine-ish dry-ish afternoons and I’ve taken the opportunity to get out and get started.

After two sessions of this I’ve got a bit of an idea what I’ve bitten off – here is what I’ve managed to do:

slow progress...

It’s going to be a long winter. In fact, it’s going to have to be, at this rate…

13 Responses to The Size and Shape of it…

  1. I found that cardboard laid over the plot stopped anything growing after I’d run myself into the ground trying to get all the mint out of a garden I’d inherited. You can use plastic as well, of course, but the cardboard will rot down over time. At first cardboard is a bit rigid, but after a rainstorm or two it moulds itself over the soil and you can weigh it down with rocks.
    I’m giving gardening advice. That makes me feel old.

  2. Kim says:

    No, don’t rotavate [shocked]. I have seen the results of that on the allotment, it just spreads root fragments around and then you spend years trying to get rid of them. Better off with old carpet or woven black plastic matting to keep the light out.

  3. disgruntled says:

    The slight issue is that as it’s not my plot and it’s only on loan to me (by my landlord) and it’s been gardened this way for years, there’s a limit to how much I can change or how allotment-y I can make it look (it’s in a rather splendid walled garden). Old carpet is definitely out; my slug traps are bad enough. I know rotavation is supposedly a no-no but the new plot was rotavated last year (and every year) and it does have wonderfully deep soil and has produced the monster parsnips, among other things, and actually hasn’t been too weedy possibly because all the available soil has been converted into parsnip…

  4. WOL says:

    I’d bet the weeds took one look at the Monster Parsnips and decided to move to a less dangerous neighborhood! I use the fallen leaves to mulch my flower beds and to fight weeds. I let them get good and dry, then rake them into a plasic leaf bag, tie it closed, and then crunch them up by walking around on the bag. Then I empty them into my beds. Works pretty well, recycles the leaves, and keeps them out of the landfill. The leaf mulch helps hold the moisture in the soil, which is a big plus for me as we are “semiarid” here. Somehow, I get the impression that lack of rainfall is not a big issue where you are. . .

  5. Dom says:

    Even the weeds don’t like parsnip 🙂

    How much bigger does the plot need to get before you can realistically start grazing animals on it and start providing milk/meat?

  6. disgruntled says:

    WOL – totally sold on the leaves; one of the brilliant things about gardening in this plot (which makes up for the restrictions) is access to all manner of compost heaps (there’s a seven year rotation going on), well-rotted manure, and a heritage leaf pile which has turned into the most fantastic leafmould over what must have been about a decade. Moisture isn’t an issue but leavening the clay soil is
    Dom – the landlord’s 6 hens have about the same amount of space as the veg plot, but you don’t get much milk off them…

  7. WOL says:

    We have very sandy, alkaline soil here with a lot of “caleche” (corruption of Spanish “con leche” — “with milk”) which is soil that contains a lot of chalky limestone dust, which makes it the color of coffee with milk — My region was under a prehistoric shallow sea for millions of years, and we’ve got a huge strata of limestone underneath us. We are nothing if not “well drained!” The soil becomes depleted of organic material quickly because there isn’t a lot to start with. I get so put out with these people that rake up every single leaf on their property to be hauled off to the land fill, then turn around and spend obscene amounts of money on “pine straw mulch” or “wood chip mulch” or some other “designer” mulch for their carefully manicured flower beds full of non-native, water guzzling plants.

  8. Helen says:

    I did some weeding at the weekend and thought my hands were never going to recover from the cold. That’s it for this year other than to get out the remaining potatoes and cover the area with the last of my well rotted cow muck.

  9. emma c says:

    oooohhh how splendid, the empire expands! I am mildly jealous. But not completely, because I know how much backbreaking work it involves. You really can go to town on things that take up much space, such as pumpkins and potatoes and I don’t know, rhubarb!

  10. disgruntled says:

    Wol – perhaps you should set up in business: combined leaf removal, and selling ‘forest mulch’, aka their (by now well rotted) leaves right back to them.
    Helen – you’re well ahead of me then
    Emma – I know, it’s a double-edged benefit. Pumpkins are definitely on the menu though

  11. WOL says:

    Will these grow where you are? They are lucious.

  12. […] long does a month need to go on for?) but where I haven’t yet finished digging over my new vegetable empire. But at least I know that I will have some subjects to put in it when it’s […]

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