October Digging.


Great to get (and shift) the twenty something barrows of well-rotted farmyard manure from the central roadway to the plot last night, and got it all well piled where I plan to use it as a top dressing; let the worms drag it down rather than put it into trenches. But the soil needs a digging over first, in my opinion. This part of the plot grew our potatoes this year and needs simple spade work to level it all out: no matter how hard I try (and I don’t really) the ground is really irregular after I have harvested the potato crop.  

Fine autumn morning, lovely sunlight through the raspberry canes (autumn variety still producing very tasty berries) and grapevines. There is a border of French marigolds in a neighbouring plot with a great show of blooms. In the low level sunlight this morning the bed looked like a row of cooling embers, or lava from some exotic volcano. The digging I find therapeutic, it has a steady rhythm and allows the mind to roam, but come back every now and then to take up the potatoes that got missed first time round (some surprisingly large and, frankly unmissable!).

The soil structure looks good, fewer stones are appearing – we have made an effort over the past year to remove the larger ones, putting them in or around the two wildlife ponds. Some wood chips remain in their original form and there are bits of sweet wrappers (guilty) coming to the surface.

But so many earthworms. Very pleasing indeed. I hope a sign that we are managing the soil well, in as near to organic fashion as we can manage. We add our own compost rotted down from kitchen scraps, shredded paper, stable manure and grass cuttings each year and added limed this spring. I time my leaning-on-the spade breaks by worm activity, saying to myself: “I will carry on digging when that worm has disappeared from view.” Then watch the strong, bulldozer efforts of the creature, wondering how much I disturbed it. Did I smash it’s home?

Because I am not sure whether worms have permanent burrows or are constantly on patrol below the ground. In fact, while I know some things about them I suddenly realise I would like to know so many more. I know certain types (brandling or tiger worms) thrive in manure/compost and are not the same as the magnificently-sized specimens in this deeper earth. I marvel at their “ploughs of the earth” perseverance and do not underestimate their importance. The ones in the autumn lawn seem to have permanent burrows, rather than continually pushing through the soil on an endless quest, and drag fallen leaves into their “homes” each night. To eat? Is this correct? Do they behave in the same fashion all year round? Have territories?

Back later, have to look on the internet.

4th October, 2012


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