My allotment work has been slow this year and I am now, as my dad would have said, all behind like a cow’s tail!
Not only should I have had the trench done back in the winter but should have started the beans indoors at the end of march. The weather has been vile and then we needed to find homes for the currant bushes that had been in that spot. Excuses I know, but there we are.
First task was to dig my trench – one spade’s depth deep and two spades wide. Three would have been better but any wider and it would be hard to get to the far side to do any picking!
Peter removed many of the top weeds when he dug out the currant bushes but hiding way beneath the surface were tangles of black roots belonging the that bane of our allotment life – Horse (or mare’s) tail!
Now the RHS insist that improving the soil will help eliminate this scourge – don’t believe them! They grow anywhere and everywhere, including my well-fertilised raised beds! Unless you are prepared to soak your allotment in harsh chemicals this weed can only be eradicated by persistent removal by hand. The roots are brittle and every tiny scrap will regenerate. I filled a bucket with roots just digging my trench and I have no doubt I missed as many pieces as I pulled out because the roots go way deeper than a single spade depth!
I always put these roots in an old fertilizer bucket and let them dry to a crisp as they are not something that you want anywhere near the compost heap!
Once the trench was dug I put in a layer of newspaper to retain moisture and cut down on the need to water the beans later in the year.
Next step – tip in some bags of horse dung – which has been sitting in bags for some months so not fresh manure that might burn roots.
Finally refill the trench and tread it lightly down. A good morning’s work!
This year I am growing both runner beans and climbing french beans, which I will grow on to a reasonable size in pots to give them a fighting chance against the molluscs…
I find white vinegar is a good treatment for mare’s tail, it won’t eradicate it but slows it and kills of younger shoots.
I shall look at that. We have such a problem on the plot.