Another year, another back ache. But I’m warming to the no-dig theme and apart from endless shredding and humping compost about, not digging is easier.
Before the winter last year I had covered most of my plot with vegetable matter of some description. I am very pleased to say that most of it has rotted away or been taken down into the soil over the winter and the soil is in pretty good shape.
I sowed peas in the autumn and by early December they were 3 inches tall. By February they were gone. Slugs, weather, birds, mice? I don’t know. I also planted garlic and onion sets. They’re still there but are no larger now than they were by early December. The ground that both peas and garlic were in was not mulched. The winter rain has compacted it and a week or two of dry weather has baked it hard. I am not expecting much of my garlic and onions.
This morning I planted Kestrel potatoes, a second early. I’m actually a little later than last year, when I got away with almost no frost damage. The plot is exposed and windy, but slopes enough for cold air to drain away.
I have divided the plot into 4 foot beds separated by 18 inch paths. I put two rows of potatoes in each bed, planted 4-6 inches deep, then put about 2 inches of compost over the whole bed. I’m hoping that compost, rather than unrotted material, will attract less slugs. I had significant slug damage to last years spuds, especially the main crop, Sarpo Mira.
My Purple Russian borecole is still cropping well so I’m going to keep that going for another couple of weeks and plant this year’s main crop, Sarpo Axona, when it comes out. I cleared sprouts, curly kale and purple sprouting to plant the earlies, would have liked to leave them longer but they were in the way. Need to look at my crop rotation plan.
I won’t sow much directly on the plot, I still have too many wireworms and leatherjackets for that to work. Most things will be brought on in cells and planted out when it is big enough to have a fighting chance. I have found and killed a lot of pests while digging in previous years so I don’t know whether not digging will delay my getting on top of them.
I also ran out of patience with the moles and bought a couple of traps. It’s not just the damage to paths and growing plants that offends, it’s the fact they’re living off my wormy workforce. I need all my worms to work in my organic matter, if the moles would eat the wireworms and leatherjackets we could all rub along, but no, I feed and breed worms and the fat, lazy moles dine out on them. They’ve even been burrowing through my compost heap! I like moles, really I do, but I’m sorry to say I’m a mole NIMBY.