Carting muck of one kind or another

23 November 2017

We have woken up to very slight grass frosts not enough to damage any tender plants but, just enough to blacken the Dahlias. So, we have made a start on bringing things in and protecting before harsher weather comes along.

Most of the plants that spent the summer in urns have now been transferred into large plastic pots and put into the frost-free environment of The Vinery. These plants may well have proved to have been hardy if they were left out, but apart from not wanting to take the risk its best to get them inside where they will benefit from making a much earlier start to next season under glass. In a pot outside, plants are much more likely to suffer from frosted roots than they would be if they were established in the ground outside, because frost slowly makes its way down into the soil, not only downward from the top surface but working its way in from the sides as well, therefore freezing a much larger proportion and deeper into the root system.
The Vinery has had a bit of a makeover recently in readiness for the imminent arrival of the peach trees – we have prepared a long bed to plant them into. Having first excavated down over a foot in depth and removed all the existing poor soil we have replaced with layers of FYM, our own homemade compost, a little bit of leaf mould, good topsoil and another traditional local soil conditioner seaweed.

Collecting the seaweed was an interesting exercise down by St Monans castle, we managed to get the tractor quite close to the footpath on the Elie side where there was quite a good harvest of kelp and bladder rack. Filling up large buckets by pitch fork then lifting it by hand over the barbed wire fence to tip into the trailer was tricky work, especially for Gavin. The biggest concern however was would the estate tractor have the power to pull the very wet seaweed back up the slope towards the track back to Bowhouse. The seaweed is also going into the raised vegetable bed that we are building for Toby in the Laundry Garden. This will partly replace the beds that were situated in the bottom terrace, which we have now grassed over. They may return one day, but as they were not well made, and fertility was low it was not worth all the effort needed keeping them clean and mown.

We are now starting to prep for the replanting work on the middle terrace. Unfortunately, it’s not just a matter of doing a plan, getting the plants, then putting them in. It looks like we need to install a drainage system first as water seeps out of the bottom of the wall in several places. We also need water supplies nearby. The starting point however will be to realign the grass edges of the path to the pillars at the bottom of the staircases. We intend to move turf across from in front of the buttresses, where the beds are to be made deeper – this will give us enough turf to make a new edge to the main path, once again this job should be another good challenge for Gavin with his previous turfing experience.

The rose garden has now been totally covered in a deep layer of FYM. To be precise 33 tonnes of the stuff, as the garden had previously been used for growing roses the best way to combat replant diseases is to drown the garden with as many beneficial fungi and bacteria as possible, hopefully this should do the trick. We will now leave the area fallow for two growing seasons, during which time we will keep rotovating the manure in.

Well it may seem as if we have spent most of the winter carting muck of one kind of another around the gardens, but I am sure that it will all be worthwhile in the future.

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