Monday, 19 March 2012

Plough or till...'tis the question.

Spring has sproing... the flowers is riz... oi wunder where the boidies is...
I've "bean" ploughing, not tilling [rotavating], and we have the next 3 by 14 metre slab of soil ready for the spuds...
We've also got the "cheat" salads in the ground... now for some radish alongside... and the Broad beans [fêves] alongside them.

Furrows and stones.
 Why ploughing? Wouldn't dare use a rotavator on our soil yet... just tooooo many large stones [sorry...ROCKS!]... but not just because of the aforementioned rocks... we've an awful lot of couch grass [also known as "twitch"] and field bindweed... with both plants, any small bit left in the soil gives rise to a new plant.
So I plough [or plow]...

"Betsy"... aka Bête C

We've purchased a two-wheel tractor to which we can hitch up a woodchipper, a cutter bar for the meadow and, unpowered, a set of culivation tools... one of which is a fully adjustable plough-share and turning the soil in that way allows us to remove long lengths of couch and bindweed root. I plough the land the same way that a big tractor does... but in a much smaller space. I go up and down the 14 metre bed, twice, and follow that up with the more tedious task of ploughing across the 3 metre width...

This years potato bed... the top shot is of the plough lines across the bed.
The picture above shows the 'bootiful' straight line up the edge... the dip inwards is where one of those "rocks" lies.... won't know until it is dug if it is a rock or a "nest" of stones, but the plough won't budge it. My trusty crowbar will tho'.

The tractor, fortunately, has an unlockable differential... so, whilst I keep the diff locked for ploughing, I can unlock it and spin the tractor round on its two wheels, line it up, re-lock the wheels and swing the blade across and plough back the other way... we have a two metre grass strip between the big beds to allow this.

The two angles I plough at... left on the way down, right on the way up.
 One of the other cultivation tools is a "potato lifter".... this is actually used as a stone lifter... I go through the already ploughed soil with this on the back and it breaks the soil up a bit further lifting the stones and good lengths of couch to the surface... that is one of this weeks jobs!

A sod held together by twitch [couch] grass... once dried a bit, more of the earth can be recovered by shaking the sod.
A ten inch [25cm] length of couch root... this is easily picked up... the little bits aren't so handy!
Pauline has been giving parts of the old potato bed from last year a 'forking over' as we've got more onions to go in... we've had to start buying them this year... and the soil is great, just needed me to give it a final rake over to get a good 'finish'.

Roger, of "Our French Adventure" also has a BCS 740 tractor... shown here with the rotavator/tiller attachment in use.

Gardening glossary...

Stones are smaller than rocks... unless a group of lonely stones* have clumped up with each other... then the clump is larger, heavier and more reticent at leaving the ground than either of the former... the stones are around seed potato/baseball size.... our rocks can be flint or limestone and the size of a hand, a head or a small car engine [usually flint those ones!] I've got one to move that is 2ft by 18" by 10"... or thereabouts... it is still part buried.

*Please note... gravel and sand clump together in winter to form stones... or that's what one of our allotment neighbours used to reckon... she'd remove bucket after bucket from the plot in the spring... grow her crops, harvest them, tidy up for the winter.... and in the spring would be removing bucket after bucket of stones...again!
And on allotments in the UK.... sand by itself fuses into glass in the summer heat... or seemed to on our plot... we were forever removing bits of melted glass!


GaynorB said...

Looks good for the job and a vital 'back saver'.

Tim said...

I don't know about the 'back saver'... I usually ache after using her... hence "Bête C"!
But, yes, it would be a lot of digging... it still will be, as we plant the spuds... thirteen rows Pauline tells me.