BITS AND PIECES

Dave Clark 5, mid sixties, Tottenham Royal if anyone went – not highest point in the history of music.

It’s still very quiet on the plot – not many people around at all. There isn’t also much to do, harvesting and clearing up ready for the winter is about it. One job I did this morning is, remembering the old adage of plant wet and sow dry, I planted out some Russell Lupins. I’ve never grown lupins before but I saw a glorious display earlier this year and I thought I’d give them a go. Lupin seeds are supposed to be somewhat difficult to germinate, but I soaked them overnight then sowed in general compost, around early July, and achieved nearly 100 percent success. I then potted them up into 10cm pots and let them grow – all 36 plants – sharing them with the woodlice it turns out. Where do woodlice come from? there’s millions of them – we should be able to learn something from them. Anyway, this morning I planted them out mainly under a Bramley apple tree and a damson tree. I know they prefer full sun and are vulnerable to aphids, but let’s see how they get on.

Talking of damsons, I was recently on my tour of dodgy plots (I’ll explain this in a later blog) in Marchants Field when a lady asked me for advice on how to prune her damson tree. She explained that she had recently taken over the plot and had inherited this very mature, overgrown tree. My advice was that plum trees are traditionally pruned in the summer, I believe to avoid decease getting to the cuts. Much of the fruit was too high to harvest and the tree was covering a good quarter of the plot. So I advised her to cut the tree back ruthlessly, to which she said she’d get her husband over with his saw. At which point I began to question myself and think am I’m right. So I advised her to google RHS for confirmation of what to do. Ever since I’ve been thinking about the perils of giving advice – it’s good to pass on information but what if it’s wrong. I guess it’s always best to caveat any advice with do your own investigation independently.

My third bits and pieces is on dig or no dig. I rather like watching Beechgrove Garden, which if you’re not familiar with is well recommended, I find it much more informative than Gardener’s World. It’s on BBC and well worth finding. Anyway, this week George revealed his vegetable crops using dig and no dig methods. And you’ve guessed it, the no dig harvest was superior to the dig. That’s the second year of comparing and the second year no dig has won. George said he is nearly convinced. I cannot fault the concept that not continuously disturbing the soil structure is clearly beneficial. I have dabbled with the concept and have watched Mick Poultney’s videos extolling the virtues of no dig. I also asked Guy Barter of the RHS during their visit at the end of June. He was rather dismissive saying that in agriculture fields have been ploughed ever since Adam and his apple, or it seems since Brighton won a game.

I’ve rather compromised so far. On new plots I will dig twice removing as much tap root weeds, and rubbish, as possible, and then rotovate a couple of times in order to break up the soil. On established plots I’ll clear the previous crop and give a light rotovate, if possible the top three inches. Questioning why I do this, I think it’s mainly to get a nice tilth on the soil – easier for sowing and planting, but also it’s aesthetic –a plot looks so much better once the soil has been worked.

I think I’ll keep experimenting in order to get the best of both worlds.

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