One Step Forwards and Three Steps Back …

Plot 17 – The Earthly Comforts Garden

Season Two – Planning Plot 17 January – April 2023
The Allotment Plotters Directory
One Step Forwards and Three Steps Back … But Still Progressing!
There are no gardening mistakes, only experiments.
Janet Kilburn Phillips

The pear tree was leaning against the fence near the shed and had never been productive nor had it produced fruit – so it had to go. It did produce leaves but it turned out it wasn’t a pollinator so no fruit was ever harvested.

The most significant feature of a To Do List, and especially the one that Suze and l have concerning the allotment, as l wrote before, it’s almost a never-ending list. The moment you tick off one thing, sure, you are relieved that it’s gone, but almost instantly, something else takes its place – so it’s like that saying one step forwards and three steps back!

Yesterday was a tiring day – we set off early Saturday morning intending to work on four prime tasks – taking the pear tree down to the stump and ground level, measuring the area for the polytunnel, working with the two-tonne compost, and off-load all wastes into that and start on the plot’s fencing.

If those tasks were completed, there are always plenty of more minor chores in addition to the bigger ones. But as with life, only some things planned are always achieved. This was the case for us. Of our actual ‘to do, we only reached 50% and 100% of an unplanned task.

Suze managed to take the pear tree down to the stump and ground level. Mike planted the pear ten years ago when he and his wife had the allotment, but the next chap along, previous to ourselves, didn’t work with it and made it awkward.

By this, l refer to the way it was leaning and is on a fence line. One of the jobs Suze and l had decided upon was to take the tree down [it had never produced fruit anyway] so that it would help us when it came to us shoring up that stretch of fencing.

Earlier this week, l purchased a Saker Mini Chainsaw, which is a very aggressive pair of secateurs in basic terms. So that made light work of the pear tree. Once done and dusted, Suze made the ground area a bit more workable. The area the tree was in is to be our second slabbed area, so the tree had to go.

There is also the Fig to be trimmed back, but at least that is staying. However, Suze made short work of the pear, as that is no more.

Whilst Suze was busy with that, l started work on the two tonnes of compost and off-loading the wastes we had accumulated since the last time l worked with the compost properly, about two and half weeks ago. I had to perform a marginal half-turn to each box. The size of the containers makes a turn hard work, and l will be glad when the six bins are working as they are smaller, allowing for more versatility.

I emptied into those two boxes a total of five rubbish sacks of shredded paper and used kitchen towels, a dozen bags of green waste, which l guess was around 170kg, 15 bags of ground coffee which was around 120 pounds in weight and five bokashi bins so 160 litres of fermented kitchen wastes. So a big empty off this time. I stirred everything and closed it all up. The next time l attend to this will be in two to three weeks.

The current compost could be a better pile. In compost circles, my heap is primarily anaerobic instead of aerobic because it is not being dug over. But it is covered and gets about as much balance as l can award it until l recommence the hot composting process again. But it is a highly active and, at times, very hot pile. This means that l decompose between 12-15″ of compost burn every two weeks, which is still impressive.

The bokashi would make it stink and attractive to vermin, and l know l have a resident rat in one of the units already, but the coffee makes it smell sweeter. The rat doesn’t bother me. It’s one of those things – anyone who maintains a compost pile that is not in a tumbler will experience mice and rat issues at one point or another. The only way to avoid it altogether is to wire it or have a concrete base.

But l used to breed rats for the pet trade, so they don’t bother me. The rat’s not stupid either, and it knows when it’s onto a good thing, and my compost heap is like a home made in heaven! Warm, secure and safe, undisturbed and primarily quiet, dry in places, available food source and nesting materials. What more could any decent law-abiding rat want?

It’ll be interesting to see if l have a rat once the smaller units are established, and the hot composting process begins. I doubt it, as there would be way too much movement.

So of the four tasks we had for Saturday, we were doing well to get 50% completed. However, while l was waiting for Suze to finish, l started one of the smaller tasks: to break the ground and make it ready to transfer into the six smaller compost units. This job would be on the agenda for sometime during this month of early March at the latest.

Still, as is sometimes the way a smaller or more minor move escalates into a more significant movement, and that is what happened. Suze and l agreed especially given how dry the weather has been for the last two weeks, to take advantage of the hard ground and move the six smaller compost units.

Measuring the ground for the polytunnel and working on the fences will have to be done sometime this coming week, as well as fitting around our client’s garden, which we started the considerable pruning last Thursday.

The good news is that the next time l start work on the compost units [filling the smaller boxes up] will be in March sometime, and this will also mean that the hot composting season can start up again.

The compost units were originally in a back-to-back trio position, but this soon proved impractical. The decision then was to move the six units against the fence line to 1] improve the working line for production and 2] to further enhance the strength of that connection fenceline, and 3] act as a wind barrier.

Now all six units are in a much-improved position. It will speed up the hot composting process. It will also mean that l can transfer the two tonnes of brewing compost sitting in the larger boxes and empty them off quicker.

The space in front of the compost will be a working space and double sowing grounds for the blueberry plants. A small paling fence will be introduced into this ground as the divider between the two operations. Further along, the connecting wall will be a double pallet composter used to hold green wastes and our 1000-litre water shelter. The old gate will be a dead wall for insects and other critters.

Additionally the six composters look more attractive set up this way and way less clumpy.

I hope you have enjoyed this article, thanks for reading and I’ll see you next time. Till then, have yourselves a terrific day!

The Autistic Composter

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Published by The Autistic Composter

Earthly Comforts is a wildlife journaling scrapbook focusing on the countryside, wildlife biodiversity and environmental conservation, flora and fauna volunteering projects, gardening, composting and vermiculture, inspiration, poetry and photography.

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