Saturday 13 February 2016

Preparing for Spring . . . Saved by Black Plastic ?

Well, Spring must be coming sometime soon - we hope!

In the Autumn, it was so wet that we waited for drier weather to do our normal autumn tasks - and waited - and waited . . .

Now perhaps it is not exactly getting drier, but the soil is not staying 100% saturated for quite all the time, so maybe we had better get on with some of those Autumn tasks before Spring starts chasing us.  There is some talk of an early Spring, they say.

Meanwhile, we have been trying to continue the battle against the legacy of weed infestation left by our tenants.  Fortunately, we have a reliable (and free) source of heavy-duty black plastic and tyre dealers are always ready to bring out a van-load of scrap tyres, so gradually an increasing area of the field has been covered as we stake our claim to weed-free soil - eventually, we hope!

But the winter has not just been wet, it has also been windy - VERY windy sometimes - so that plastic and those tyres have been re-laid quite a number of times . . .

. . . and the polytunnel has not escaped either!  Dave had patched up the damaged plastic cover when we came back, and it survived OK until the worst winds of the last few months.  It didn't really owe us anything as it was the original one from 1999, but mid-winter is not the best time to replace a plastic cover (wet, windy, cold . . .) plus we had some winter salads growing happily in there and the stormy blasts would not do them any good.

So, once again, black plastic and tyres to the rescue!

It may not be a thing of beauty, but it does the job until we are able to fit a new cover on a calm, warm day in the Spring.

Even inside is not too dark, and it means that Dave has been able to get on with preparing the beds and planting more winter salad.

That white bed is covered with fleece on simple wire frames - an idea from Eliot Coleman which seems to work, keeping the worst of the cold or frost away.  More covers planned for some of the other beds, too.

The 'jungle' you can see on the right is Cape Gooseberry plants - still cropping in January! They have now been trimmed back and replanted in what we hope will be an easier place to manage them.  Hopefully another good crop in 2016!

There is still plenty more to do, both inside and especially in the field . . .