One half of the new plot has been dug twice and a tonne of top soil added as mulch. I’ve been measuring out beds and laying paths in between for easy access. Last weekend was momentous – I planted something! Six rose bushes to be precise. These are in the cutting patch and all chosen for colour, shape and fragrance. There are: 2 x White Perfumella, 1 x Louise Odier, 3 x Gertrude Jekyll. Still to be moved from the old site are 2 x Chandos Beauty and 2 x Lady Mitchell. I’ve got 2 x Fragrant Cloud heeled in. I’ve moved what I call the ‘Survivor’rose from the middle of the main bed (and in the way of the path) to the bed that runs alongside the lawn. Why survivor? The whole plot has been strimmed twice, glyphosated once and then dug over by a mini-digger and still it survived and has earned it’s place! That it has really pretty blooms is a bonus and I’ll forgive it having no fragrance.
I used mycorrhizal fungi to support root development and deliberately avoided bone meal as that’s the same as sending the local fox population an open invitation. When I left last weekend, the bed looked perfect; six new rose bushes forming an orderly line and cozied under a thick mulch of WRM.
Yesterday I arrived at the plot ready for another round of hard labour with the polytunnel and discovered this had happened to the roses.
Four of the six had been pulled/dug up and the soil flung every which way. They spent about two hours in a bucket of water and then re-planted with additional chicken wire defences. Today, I noted fox paw prints but no further vandalism.
No further polytunnel progress; I’m secretly waiting for the poltunnel builder elves to show up…
I did get the rhubarb in. I’m on a mission to produce those beautiful, tender and sweet red stems you see on all the cheffy programmes. Google tells me that green rhubarb stems are the result of acidic soil. Allowing rhubarb leaves to rot around the plant will increase local acidity. An experiment at the old plot tells me Google’s not lying. During 2014, I kept one plant absolutely clear of all old leaves and left the other two to my usual lackadaisical clearing routines. Last year, the plant I kept clean produced nothing but red stems!!
That plant will be moving to the new plot and will be joined by 3 x Fulton’s Strawberry Surprise. It has been awarded an RHS AGM so confidence is high.
Rhubarb is another perennial, so I took my time with soil preparation and also tested the soil. I confess I’ve never bothered with this before but it’s all rather straightforward. The bit that surprised me was learning that the sample should be taken taken from soil at about 5″ below the surface.
I assembled by test tubes, added the powder, then the liquid, shook vigorously and left to settle and then colour matched against the Ph chart. It seems liming won’t be necessary!
An update on the soil testing. I left the test tube in the shed during week to see what would happen – maybe the colour would change to red! Nothing quite so dramatic, but the sediment had settled leaving a very clear green; I think the soil is somewhere between neutral and alkaline. The lesson seems to be that soil testing takes time and requires patience.