A major project at the end of 2004 was to make an orchard in a very small field at the bottom of the garden. The space had been used for a muck heap by a neighbouring farm and it also looked as if part of the ground had been the farm yard as there were lots of small stones to be removed. I knew that the area did not drain that well so installed land drains across the whole plot. Apple trees were planted in December.
(Click any image to enlarge)
As the garden is a short distance from the house it is not always possible to get there every day. To avoid frequent trips to water the beds in summer it was necessary to have an automated irrigation system. After much research I decided on inline drippers controlled by a soil moisture sensor. That way there would be no irrigation when the soil was already damp. The system worked well at first but used a lot of water. It is currently being replaced by a solar power system that uses recovered surface water.At the beginning of 2005 there were only other two major projects left to complete; the piping and filling of the drainage ditch and the clearing out an old, redundant slurry pit.
The ditch was tackled first and involved digging out and piping around 50m of ditch. Various newly installed land drains were connected into the new pipe. Draining heavy clay soil is important and really helps to prevent water logging as water collects just above the clay sub-soil.
The old slurry pit was dug out, vegetation cleared and then filled with new top soil. Around 10 tonnes of soil were needed to fill and level it. This was delivered from the adjacent farm and and filled using a front loader.
| The pit
||The pit filled and levelled|
Filling the ditch left a space towards the bottom of the garden big enough to fit a 22ft x 4ft (6.7m x 1.23m) Asparagus bed. The bed was edged with scaffold planks, dug over and topped off with new soil. The plants went in in the Spring of 2005. No crop was taken in the first year and a small crop in years 2 and 3.
The garden is much as it was at the end of 2005. There have been some minor changes but nearly all the available space is now in cultivation. The empty space in the foreground in the photograph below was to have been a herb bed after the comfrey plants were removed. How wrong can you be! It is impossible to remove comfrey so there are now two beds! That is not a problem as it a wonderful plant that can be used for mulching and to make an excellent liquid plant food!
Updated 30 may 2019
See more about soil remineralisation HERE