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Autumn Equinox

Posted By: Paul 08/12/2009 09:29:00

The Autumn Equinox has just occurred on Tuesday and for most of usour nights are now longer than the days.

From now until the 21st December the days will get shorter by about 4 minutes per day. Which means less time in the garden for us, less hours of daylight for the plants and animals, and Christmas is only 94 days away. Less time in the garden means we shall have to plan our time wisely if we are going to get all the jobs done in time. For the plants and animals their biological clocks will be telling them to store food and reduce activity in preparation for the up and coming winter. Lastly with Christmas only 94 days away I shall have to start planning my letter to Santa Claus.

Last week was quite a busy one for me as I was lucky enough to find the last of my french windows in a skip. I have been collecting doors and windows since April and eventually I had enough to complete my Hotbed. The raised bed I built earlier Raised Bedthis year has been very successful but with the winter approaching it's usefulness was diminishing. IfI could insulate it and get some manure decomposing under the soil I could extend the growing season for some non-hardy salad crops.

HotBed

With the image being this size you can't see the gaps and cracked panes of glass but they are there I'm afraid. Even so it will still provide enough protection against the winter, and what's more it looks more like a Victorian structure than a pile of old doors. Total cost was about £2 and that was for the screws. All the rest was 'foraged' from skips and refuse tips.

I'm currently using the bed as a cold frame but as the first frosts appear I will add a layer of decomposing horse manure and straw mixture about a 6 inches below the soil level and when the temperature has stabilized I can start sowing lettuce, rocket and radish. For more information on how to get a hotbed started have a look at the guide on our website here.

This weekend I will be preparing the ground on one of my new allotments for the Onions and Garlic. If you read the gardening books they suggest planting Potatoes in new ground as it will help the turning of the soil, but my Potatoes are going elsewhere next year so 'Single' digging it is.

Single Digging is where you dig a trench 1 foot by 1 foot and as wideas you need. The soil which is removed is then placed into a wheelbarrow. Then a layer of compost or manure is placed in the bottom ofthe trench. Next dig another 1 foot by 1foot trench adjacent to thefirst and empty the soil into the first trench. Repeat the process forthe whole area to be dug and fill the last trench with the soil fromthe wheelbarrow.
Double Digging is the same as the above exceptthe trench is 1 foot deep and 2 foot wide. Then the base of the trenchis forked over to a depth of 1 foot with the manure mixture.
This isthe definition of Double digging used by the RHS and used to be knownas 'Bastard Digging' not because of how hard it is but because the twolayers of soil in the trench never mix, or in other words there is no'marriage' between the manure and soil layer and the top soil layer.

You should double dig a veg plot once every four years to build up the nutrients deep down in the soil. Then the Brassicas are planted in the ground and their roots are encouraged to grow deeper to get to the manure. Then you follow the crop rotation for the next three years.

Apologies to Peter as I was going to include more information on growing Fruit this week as I have just taken on a share of another allotment and it's going to be used just for soft fruit. The plans are going down on paper now and should be ready next week I hope.

Happy Gardening!

Paul

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