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Wellington Fields Allotments - Hixon.

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A Load Of Manure And A New Compost Heap!

This is my second year on the plot and I was told by an old gardener, ďItís easy for anybody to grow good vegetables on a new plot the first year, itís the second year that separates the men from the boys.Ē So, I decided I would have to do something to enrich the free draining soil. Whenever I plant things I have got into the habit of adding a liberal scattering of processed chicken manure pellets, because it is an organic site and we are not supposed to use chemical fertilisers. However, this season I am also making a determined effort to dig in lots of humus as well to help retain the moisture. My over wintering compost heap from home was dug into the soil under the beans and sweet peas before they were planted and many bags of horse manure were dug under the Asparagus, but when I came to plant the tomatoes I hadnít got any more compost and couldnít get any more manure. Another, near by plot holder had been given a load of cow manure for free by a local farmer and he offered me some. I thought about it for a bit and went away to dig up some Josta Berry cuttings that had been in all winter. Every single one had rooted well, giving me more than I wanted, so I swapped 2 nice big healthy ones, for 2 barrows of cow manure, which seemed a fair swap and he thought so as well! Tomatoes like a rich soil as is shown by the fact that they always used to be seen growing in the riverbanks near to the outlets of sewage treatment plants, so I thought I would dig some of the manure under them. It is always horse manure that gardeners traditionally use and not cow manure that is a little different in texture. Maybe itís not used because it is too rich and not fibrous enough, or maybe it is on health grounds, but with all the testing and heath inspection of animals that is done now, why shouldnít it be used? Farmers have always spread farmyard muck on their fields, so I thought if they can use it and it is free I will give it a try while I can get it this season.

With the loss of my compost heap at home that has been made into a raised bed and is now planted with Rhubarb, I decided I did need a compost heap on my allotment after all. So, I moved about 100 old house bricks from home up to my plot in my poor little abused car that serves me well as a motorised wheelbarrow!

The part of my plot where I wanted the new compost heap actually overlapped my row of runner beans, but I did start to lay out the bricks in place, straight away, as best I could, because I wanted to put some rubbish in it as soon as possible. For a few weeks now I have been simply storing all the weeds and tops from the harvested vegetables, in old compost bags that has started to kill them and started the rotting process. Unfortunately this type of composting usually causes Anaerobic bacteria to develop and produces a slimey, smelly, mess unlike the sweet smelling compost resulting from Aerobic bacteria that live in ventilated and loose compost that is well turned. Tipping out all these smelly bags of waste into the new heap will get the air into it and encourage more Aerobic bacteria that will sweeten it up to finish off the composting process turning it into a usable material that I should be able to dig in with later plantings in my plot.



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