Wednesday 15 August 2012

Lazy Beds

With the guests gone and the evidence of their visit squared away, Dad can get back into the garden and check out progress on the vegetables after the week of beautiful sunshine. The warmth has brought on the peas and broad beans beautifully, so we can have a first portion  of peas with supper on Monday night. The broads will be a few more days yet but the runners and French beans are starting to flower profusely. We are also looking at some courgettes soon in the kitchen garden from which we have already been enjoying various cut and come again salad stuff.

The broader picture, though, has Dad needing to finally give in to the local method for raised beds or lazy beds and trenches. It's just been too wet this year gardening on the flat, to hoe or control weeds, so that we have a depressing embarrassing lawn of weeds between the rows of crop so that a mower is sometimes more appropriate than a hoe. The crops sulk in damp, cold misery, succumb to slugs or general malaise so that often 'we' have just given up on them and ploughed them back in.

Way back, when Mike the Cows was tractor-ploughing and tractor-rotovating he did suggest ridging it up (which is quite easy, I now know, with a couple of changes to settings on the rotovator) but we didn't really know what we were about back then and Dad thought he meant into potato-style ridges. We declined the offer, thinking we'd be able to plant rows 2 feet apart and simply walk-behind-rotovate up the rows like you would in Kent to keep the weeds down. Then came the rain for most of May, June and July and the flat rotovated land saturated and could not drain.

It was John Deere Bob who explained what was meant by ridges - three or four foot wide broad ridges (what they'd call 'breeds' in the Fens) with deepish trenches between but with the ridges/trenches aligned down the slope (we'd done our initial rows across the allotment, effectively parallel to the contours). You can either dig the whole site over and then make trenches or use a traditional Irish method which saves quite a few square yards of digging and that's called 'Lazy Beds'. You skim the turf (or 'lawn of weeds in Dad's case) off where the trench will be, folding it over to lie upside down on the edge of the ridge, grass to grass. You then shovel out the trench and use the soil to bury the rest of the ridge and the flipped over turfs. You can also then cover the whole with plastic to further supress weeds. We used plastic sheeting left over from the building project, plus we recycled the ground sheets from Mr Silverwood's thrown-away tent. We have since seen pics of raised beds and Lazy Beds in the Museum of Country Life in Turlough, Co. Mayo, so we now feel very authentic!

Now we're talking. Now the soil in the ridge tops is drying out and does not water-log and Dad can stroll up and down in the trenches easily getting at the weeds even on the wettest day. The rest of the allotment will be converted to raised beds as it comes free after we have harvested the current crops of beans, cabbages etc.

My final pictures on this catch up are just a nice shot of the High Hopes pink rose climbing up the Tígín wall and a nice box of 9 eggs showing 4 dated today (15th Aug) just because all the gals are now in production.

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