February is a very important time to get things ready before March-sowing begins. The weather is unpredictable and can be rarely favourable, so you have to try and take advantage when it is – we tried 😄
The first thing we wanted to add was a wind breaker on the east fence (this time last year, we put one on the west fence and it has worked beautifully well: protecting us, the young fruit trees, and all the vegetables from some violent gale force winds). Before doing so, it took us some time to remove any unwanted perennials from near the fence – and, boy, did they have some powerful and resilient root systems. We then trimmed the neighbour’s hedge back, where it was poking through, to prevent it from making holes in the wind breaker (and to hopefully train it to grow a little more away from from the fence to try and avoid too much future damage). Also, on this east side, we’re planning to remove the concrete slabs, which used to serve as a path there, in order to increase the amount of land and space available. For now, the slabs will be stored somewhere temporarily until another use can be found for them. In the land and space that will be freed up as a result, we’re going to distribute some organic matter and plant some annual plants/flowers to bring the microorganisms back to life 🙂
Pruning the apple trees was next, which left us with a lot of branches and twigs. Agnieszka’s Dad 🙂 chopped the small ones for us, and we cut the bigger ones. In the end, we had a lot of wood to give back to the Earth:
- Small twigs are being placed around the edges of two perennial areas, and between different crops, as markers, as we start sowing and planting outdoors.
- The bigger branches we dug into the soil on the western edge of the garden beds.
- We stuck small twigs into the raised strawberry beds to prevent cats from using them as their toilet 😉
- The smallest and thinnest twigs that were left over were used to cover the cardboard on the path between the beds
All this wood will help maintain moisture-levels in the soil during drier days, as well as starting slowly to decompose – feeding the soil and its microorganisms.
The third and most urgent job was turning five pallets that had been kindly donated to us into a working composter. When we have more pallets available to us, it will become the first chamber of a three-chamber-composter. In his younger days, Geoff was a carpenter and joiner, so it seemed like revision for a mini-test for him. I mainly followed his instructions and tried not to destroy anything or hurt anyone 😁 The final result exceeded our expectations 😁 We can’t wait for more pallets and more ventures into the DiY that accompanies it 😁
The container we bought last year has been emptied of the partially decomposed content which we have been adding to since October 2019. Now, it has been moved into the new composter, the process of transferring providing some beneficial aeration, where it can rest and undergo further decomposition.
The green store-bought composter can now serve as a first chamber (the one topped up and added to on a regular basis): and our latest homemade creation is now a second ‘resting’ chamber.
To finish off, we have a couple of photos showing the spot where we distributed our home-made compost in October 2019. As you can see from the most recent picture: the texture hasn’t changed, no weeds have grown since, even the colour hasn’t changed – and it’s ever so soft and not at all compact. We’re definitely hooked on making a lot more compost 😊
So, here we are: more or less prepared for March, with the garden beds mulched and ready to welcome Spring vegetation, hoping to make a lot of good soil/compost, and begin another wonderful season 😃