Frozen February

Saturday, 2 February 2008

What to do when the ground is frozen?  Well, apart from excavating a very long parsnip and cutting a cabbage, not a lot is the answer. I don’t need to sow anything at the moment. My tomato and capsicum seed are slow to germinate. This could be because I have not got the propagator warm enough, but one variety, Nello’s Piccolino, have shot up. Capsicum, in any event are slow, so I keep my nerve.

I am going to cut back the three chilli varieties I have had growing through this winter. They are beginning to wilt so time for a good hard trim followed by a feed and it will be interesting to see if they come back strongly this year.

Now is a good time to get in a load of shit to complete rotting down for use in the autumn. I have three bins for compost and manure. The bigger the bin the better, so if you are going to build some I recommend they are not less than one cubic metre in capacity (30 cubic feet). Make sure the site for the heap is on soil. Mine are against the north facing end of the allotment and are 80 cubic feet each. I made them using a framework of posts and wire. I then lined each frame with carpet. When a bin is full I also cover it in natural fibre carpet. This helps to keep the heap well insulated and rain off! But you do have to re-line the bins every two or three years as the lining rots away! Now is also a good time to turn a compost heap as it will have been working slowly through the winter and needs a good mix and aeration to get it going as the days warm up. With a three bin system like mine once one bin is empty I tip the contents of the fullest compost bin into it. Then I fill the empty bin with shit. My third bin provides me with a supply of compost/rotted manure through the spring and summer for replenishing beds as veggies are harvested. Or, if it is not full I continue to fill it with organic material.

Happy gardening this weekend.

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