Monday, 19 November 2012

Autumn Digging

 The pattern of this year has been rain, rain, rain, rain, SUNNY GARDENING DAY, rain, rain, rain, so this weekend a rare bit of sunshine prompted us to get out and get on with the vegetable plot.  Having said that, a spell of unforecasted rain made an appearance part way through anyway.  The emergency gardening routine we have settled into this year means we have to get a lot done at one go, so I decided to dig up one-third of the carrots and all the measly parsnips so I could clear and dig over the parsnip bed for the winter.  The parsnips really are measly, though I suspect I could sell them in a supermarket as "miniature vegetables" and easily make my money back!  Given the size of the parsnips, I wonder how big the carrots would have got if we had decent weather?
 There are still some carrots in, but all that is left now for the winter table is a collection of pencil-thin leeks and the purple sprouting broccoli among the weeds, as you can see here.  I like to get most of the hard digging over before Christmas as our coldest weather tends to be in January and February, when the ground is often frozen.  In particular, I want to have space to put the garlic in early in the new year, so a lot of digging was done this weekend.
 Here's a sample.   This bed was weeded and worked over a month ago, but the constant rain has compressed the soil again so I forked it over.  Working a clay soil is hard, each of the clods you can see weighs almost a bag of sugar.  But this soil is in good shape compared to this...
which was last dug over and planted in June, just before the monsoon.  This is what our soil looks like when it is saturated and compressed.  The only way to tackle this is to give it a rough dig with a spade to break up the clay clods a bit, let it dry (not sure how this is going to happen!) and let the winter frosts break the lumps down.  At present, the winter is looking like it may be a cold one, so I do want to get as much digging done in the next month as possible - I'm about two-thirds done now, crossing fingers and hoping for some more clear weather!