Sunday, April 3, 2011

Asparagus planted

Originally we planned to prune the back hedge and put up a chicken-proof fence...but the delivery of a box containing 10 Asparagus crowns on Saturday lunchtime soon changed the plan. It was time to get building and digging.

Firstly, we needed to determine where the edge of the veggie beds were going to start. This is determined by a gatepost and gate which will be the entrance to the chicken area. So time to dig a deep hole for the post and praise the light soil we have - hole digging is easy :)

With the gatepost in place, we could then put in the two 3.6m sleepers to make a retaining wall (the garden slopes slightly and I wanted the beds to all be level). Moving the 3.6m sleepers from the drive to the bottom of the garden was not fun - they are very, very heavy! We did find that you could put the sleeper on our 4-wheel garden cart by removing the sides and placing timber blocks on the bottom to avoid catching the small lip. It made steering awkward but was a lot easier than carrying the sleeper the whole way (which we did with the first two).

We then levelled the area for the paths and two narrower beds and dug over the area. Twice. It was meant to be a proper double-dig but the awkward way we are doing this - constrained by time and the temporary tree housing - meant that we made hard work of digging to a suitable depth.

Ness had to leave at Sunday lunchtime for a business trip, so before she left we carried the four 2.4m sleepers, that make up the long sides of the beds, into place. I then worked to finish off. My biggest mistake was to build the bed sides before digging in compost and leaf mould to the two beds. This made forking over the narrow bed quite awkward. Time was marching on and the clouds were darkening, threatening rain.

To plant the first bed, I dug the 30cm wide, 20cm deep trench and realised that I should have just emptied the soil into a wheelbarrow as the remainder of the 60cm wide bed could not hold that amount of soil. Anyway, I made the best of it, forking over the bottom of the trench (which was already fairly open) and building a narrow mound to trail the roots over. The five crowns fitted perfectly with 40cm spacing and I sieved soil back into the trench to cover the crowns with about 5cm soil.

One bed done, another to go but no time left. the remaining five crowns went into a tray of damp compost and I just managed to clear up our tools before the heavens opened. Hopefully half-hour at lunchtime tomorrow should get the other crowns planted and I'll add pictures then too.

We also added 2 species to the garden list this week - Lesser Redpoll on the niger seed(!) and a male Blackcap has been singing and showing occasionally in the bottom hedge.

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