Wow! Just when we'd got used to 3 extra layers and cold fingers, the weather turns overnight! Spring suddenly showed itself today (though we hear it might nip off for a bit of a rest again at the end of next week). The great thing about having a bit of warmth is that you can suddenly get loads done because the ground is soft and your fingers sometimes even do the things you want them to!
Our aims for the session were - mulch raspberries and fruit trees, use cleared grasses to thicken up the dead-hedge along the perimeter, plant some seeds, prick out sweet pea seedlings and finally get to grips with one of the compost bins that was the "victim of a misunderstanding".
Mulching the rasps was actually a pretty quick job, as Jade, Tracey and Chris all set to. It now looks much neater, and with any luck, the mulch will keep back the easy weeds, so we can just concentrate on the deep rooted ones.
Next on the list was a little treat for the local wildlife. When we started here, we created "dead hedges" around the perimeterwhich are formed from cleared branches and twigs. These create instant cover for wildlife and allowed us to plant various climbers and brambles to run through them. Obviously, over time the finer twigs break off, so there are fewer nooks and crannies for beasties to shelter in, but this is easily fixed when you have to clear any dead vegetation, so that's what we did. The dead grass thickened up the hedge a treat.
Whilst Chris got on with that job, Jade mulched around our fruit trees. It's a great way to help the trees out by reducing the grass competition, but keeping up the moisture under the tree. You need to make it like a donut though. Mulch touching the bark means the tree will either rot at the base of the trunk, or start to make roots into it which then die as the weather gets warmer, so you need to leave a gap in the middle.
|Jade creates the perfect donut mulch|
Whilst all this was going on, Jo mastered the art of pricking out sweet peas. She did sterling work, potting up the seedlings with great care, and only 1 broken root (because it had invaded the seed tray and tied itself in a knot). Hopefully we are now assured of lots of lovely towers of scented blooms in Summer.
|Jo proves she's a quick learner!|
The final job, which well went beyond the call of duty, was bravely tackled by Chris with a little help from Tracey. A while back, we had a group of helpers who didn't realise that we had a "spare" compost bin waiting to have the un-composted contents of the other heaps turned into it. They just saw a bin, and started to fill it, which wouldn't have mattered too much, but whilst it was waiting for its role, we had stored our plastic off-cuts and tarpaulins in it. The intrepid duo managed to unpick the resulting mess, even retrieving the plastic and using it to create some soil-warming covers on the beds we will be planting up first. They discovered the remaining debris was infested with bind-weed roots, so they removed the bin and turned the heap out before covering it with black plastic to heat up. Hopefully that now puts the composting system back on track.
|Chris tames the compost monster...|
We should also thank the DISO crew who turned up just before the snow yesterday and put in 40 new raspberry canes for us. They must have worked like the wind to get it done before the weather turned. We hope they will be able to come and help us with quite a few other projects this year, so it bodes well for us keeping on top of a lot of those niggly jobs that often get sacrificed to keep the rest working.