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Today I returned to OrganicLea to find it bathed in sunshine, a great change from the snow of my previous visits. Now that spring is on the way, it was time to start working on the plants for the first time since I’ve been going.
The tasks today were mainly mulching some the fruit they have. Mulching isn’t something I know a lot about but learning more about it from the team, it seems the benefits are worth the initial effort.

Benefits of mulching:

  • Suppresses weeds therefore reducing the need to weed later in the year.
  • Traps water. As we’ve just had a couple of rainy days, the ground was damp, so the layers we were adding was going to trap this moisture and stop the sun from drying out the ground.
  • Adds organic matter and nutrients to the soil.
  • Helps balance the ph.

The morning saw us concentrate on ‘Raspberry Row’ which is two lines of raspberry canes sandwiched between apple and pear single cordons. Raspberries like a slightly acidic soil (around ph 6 – 6.5) but where the team planted them used to have a building on, where the lime from the foundations had raised the ph to around 7.5. To improve the conditions for the raspberries and therefore the likelihood of a good and productive crop, the team was using conifer clippings instead of compost to balance the ph level.

Bringing the kit up to Raspberry Row. The old newspapers are collected from a local recycling project.

Bringing the kit up to Raspberry Row. The old newspapers are collected from a local recycling project.

Ru giving us instructions on how to mulch around the rasberries.

Ru giving us instructions on how to mulch around the rasberries.

Starting to complete the mulching of this row. Raspberry support wires visible on the left, pear cordons on the right.

Starting to complete the mulching of this row. Raspberry support wires visible on the left, pear cordons on the right.

Sun shining down on the the conifer clippings. These are delivered by local tree surgens as an effective way of them disposing of what is technically waste material.

Sun shining down on the the conifer clippings. These are delivered by local tree surgens as an effective way of them disposing of what is technically waste material.

Spreading the conifer clippings out over the paper and also around the raspberry stems. The new raspberry grow with be able to come through a light layer of clippings but not a heavy layer of paper, which is why the paper is only laid on the paths.

Spreading the conifer clippings out over the paper and also around the raspberry stems. The new raspberry grow with be able to come through a light layer of clippings but not a heavy layer of paper, which is why the paper is only laid on the paths.

Mulching is complete on Raspberry Row for this year. New year, a similar process will be repeated.

Mulching is complete on Raspberry Row for this year. New year, a similar process will be repeated.

With the work completed on the raspberries in the morning, after enjoying a lunch of chips (I did a quick bike run to the chippy : ) we moved on to the rhubarb.

Rhubarb looking good for the first crop of the year at OrganicLea.

Rhubarb looking good for the first crop of the year at OrganicLea.

Under the black tarp is the 'Champagne' Rhubarb which will be ready in about 2 weeks...yum!

Under the black tarp is the ‘Champagne’ Rhubarb which will be ready in about 2 weeks…yum!

Ru demonstrates to the team how to dig around the rhubarb roots to bring up the full clump without damaging it.

Ru demonstrates to the team how to dig around the rhubarb roots to bring up the full clump without damaging it.

Ru demonstrates how to neaten up the cuts made to the removed clump of rhubarb.

Ru demonstrates how to neaten up the cuts made to the removed clump of rhubarb.

Lifting my rhubarb island.

Lifting my rhubarb island.

Using the natural gaps to divide the rhubarb up into smaller plants.

Using the natural gaps to divide the rhubarb up into smaller plants.

The transplanted divided rhubarb plants are replanted and mulched in with newspaper and compost.

The transplanted divided rhubarb plants are replanted and mulched in with newspaper and compost.

The last couple of barrows full of compost to finish the mulching of the rhubarb.

The last couple of barrows full of compost to finish the mulching of the rhubarb.

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One thought on “OrganicLea: Day Three

  1. That’s a lot of work but very well described. Presumably the rhubarb is divided up so that there is a bigger crop? I love rhubarb so hope you’ll have some extra in your own allotment!
    xx

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