Excavating the plot

Late this morning I walked down to the allotment ready for a full day’s work. The weather has been so fickle lately that it either has been too hot or too wet to do anything productive. The mix of sunshine and rain has meant the proliferation of bind weed on an industrial scale. Everyone has been struggling with it this year. Cliff has done a bit of research and found the roots go down five metres. This means it’s almost impossible to dig out. Great.

My first job was to feed the chick. She is doing really well and her new favourite pastime is to tip over her water dispenser and kick over her water bowl. I gave up after refilling her water bowl for the fourth time in a couple of hours! She continues to eat well and her walking is significantly better.

The other girls were enjoying the sunshine when I arrived down at the main coop. They really seem to have fully integrated now although Hattie and Katie prefer to stand bear me when I am in the coop. I collected 5 eggs, one of which was randomly laid in the middle of the coop. Not under the coop, that would be logical. In the middle of the floor. Weird. I fed them all and cleared the nest box out.

I got distracted as I went to open up the shed by the chicks in Phil’s coop. The leghorns are stunning. They have more room in the coop since yesterday. Our local farmer, Mick, dropped by to pick up the cockerels from Phil’s coop and he also took Hans. According to Cliff, Mick took a real shine to Hans. He held him under his arms for about twenty minutes while they all chatted, Hans was completely chilled and friendly. I was delighted to hear that Mick may have already got someone to take him.

I made a start on removing the weeds in the crazy paving. I don’t know why weeds exist unless it’s to irritate me. I cleared them all and worked my way around the edge of the paving and between the rows of fennel. I dumped three buckets of weeds into the main coop. These were received joyously and satisfied clucking lasted for about 10 minutes after I left.

On my last delivery of weeds to the coop, I decided to tackle the grass and weeds growing around the broody box. Due to my neglect, these weeds were now waist high. It didn’t take long to decimate the worst offenders. The digging over can wait for another day. I made a massive pile of weeds next to the broody box as the compost bin was full to overflowing. As the weeds rot down, I will move my mini pile of weeds to the compost bin.

Those weeds cleared allowed me to sort out the tangle of raspberries and blackberries. The blackberries have gone berserk, covering all the raspberries and even starting to block the path. I used garden twine and organised the raspberries first, pulling the canes upright and removing stray blackberry branches. By now I was getting a bit peckish, so I scoffed some raspberries. They were delicious!

Hunger saited, I began to deal with the blackberry bushes. They have grown massive, splaying over the rhubarb and onto the path. On a roll with weaving the willow arch, I proceeded to tidy the blackberry bush, twisting the branches around each other to keep the path clear. When the berries ripen we are going to be drowning in them!

I kept pottering on at the back of the plot by clearing the little bed by the fruit section. The climbing hydrangea is still clinging on but it will stand a better chance now it isn’t covered in weeds. Cliff’s gorgeous Passion flower has grown well and is climbing up the trellis.

I heard some commotion on the main path and went to investigate. Steve and Cliff were on Will’s plot, putting in the new chicks. There are 15 of them, white leghorns, black leghorns and something else with Spanish in the name. They all seem really healthy and happy in their new home. We watched them for a while before I headed off to the clubhouse for a well deserved break.

Next, I decided to check on the chick. After feeding her, I put her out into the greenhouse to check on how she is walking. I went back and sat for a while watching her making short work of the many weeds in the greenhouse. I was delighted to see her scratch. This shows she has got strength back into her legs and got good enough balance to do it. I watched her for a while and left her to it.

As I walked down the path, I decided it was time to tackle the mass of bindweed by the coop. Recently, we bought a bag of bark chippings for the fruit section. I emptied out the first half bag and raked it out. It’s a definite improvement. Before lugging the second heavier half bag, I realised I couldn’t move to rake out the bark due to the weeds.

The bind weed has grown up the side of the coop and spread out to the base of our fruit trees. It took about a quarter of an hour of wrestling to clear the bind weed from the side of the coop. Another half hour and a full compost bin later, it was clear. For the first time in weeks, it is possible to walk along the back of the fruit trees. It still needs work and digging over but it’s definitely better.

Before I left I tried to do some more weeding around the onions. Then I realised, I should pick the onions first to make my life easier. Despite the potatoes being a miserable failure, the onions have grown well. I laid them out to dry on the patio before making a start on weeding.

After about half an hour, I gave up for the day. I put the chick back into the coop and shut up the shed.

Tomorrow, I will go over the plot with the hoe and clear away the remaining weeds. This should mean that with a bit more hard work, the plot will be respectable, if not entirely weed-free like Phil’s.

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