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Monday, 26 September 2011

Now that all of our heritage potato varieties have been lifted from the kitchen garden we have spent a day ploughing the bed with the aim of removing the compacted layers of soil which continue to cause us cultivation problems.

Our new single furrow reversible plough attaches onto our BCS740 two-wheel tractor supplied by tracmaster. Please click on the link below for further details on this piece of equipment and the available attachments.

Once the bed had been cultivated, Nicola and James raked the bed level removing some surplus stone. The bed was then consolidated by performing a very amusing to watch, "gardeners shuffle". This is where the gardeners walk across the bed walking on their heels moving forward at a very slow pace with feet together across the area. This consolidates the soil lightly and effectively. Once this was completed the gardeners then used landscape rakes to produce a fine tilth ready for sowing.

Our intention for this bed is to grow a green manure during the winter months which will then be dug in following cutting in early spring. The green manure will help to stabilise the soil during the winter months while also adding organic material to the soil which in time will increase the humus level within the soil. The particular green manure that we have selected is a Winter Mix Green Manure containing Crimson Clover, Mustard, Red Clover and Italian Ryegrass. Please click on the link below for further details regarding this green manure.

The morning, after sowing, upon arrival to the kitchen garden the area was covered with pigeons slowly but surely undoing all this hard work. Birds are generally not an issue for us however we have decided to install some wonderful Victorian bird scarers to help reduce their presence in this area.

Nicola discovered this particular technique some time ago while reading through Victorian kitchen garden references.

Nicola suspended six potatoes from arching bamboo stems placed around the vegetable bed. Each potato has between 10 and 15 feathers stuck in them giving the impression of a bird. The feathers help the potato to move and swaying upon the pendulum. At present this appears to be keeping the pigeons away. Although this cannot be said for all the wildlife. On the second morning of the new bird scarers one had been detached from it's bamboo cane and taken several metres away. The feathers had been removed. We believe this to be the activity of a fox as all those feathers were removed and the potato was effectively unharmed. The long potato tubers of the pink fir apple proves be very effective and almost give the impression of a very large hummingbird when it bobs back and forth.

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