September 2015

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16th September

I particularly like this time of year, and here at Helmickton we're getting well stuck into our autumn tasks! We were back at Beckside on Sunday, checking up on Hubcap's organic weed control strategy in the area destined to be our orchard. This involved removing half a ton of paving slabs, lengths of timber, old doors and fence panels which he'd used to pin down the 30 x 25 m square of black polythene (acquired for £10 from a mate in the building supply trade) laid at the back end of winter before this year's growing season began, then hauling the sheet back to see what was underneath (see pic top left). To our delight, the brambles, bindweed and other weeds there had nearly all starved to death for want of light, while the few survivors can easily be removed with a hoe. Meanwhile the dampness and shelter attracted a multitude of earthworms, which in their turn were pursued by many moles; and between them, they've turned the rough, rooty soil into a beautiful soft tilth. So Mick has very little work left to do before the plot is ready to be planted with our fruit trees, and he's looking forward to getting them in the ground... not that we're exactly short of apples in the meantime, as the picture below left shows. Yes, between our own garden and allotment trees and the generosity of some of Mick's clients, we're getting tons of beautiful fruit - so we also had our first processing session, which yielded a gallon of fresh juice for the freezer and a gallon of what will eventually be cider... not a bad result for a couple of hours pleasant work in the sunshine.

It felt especially gratifying that I could be out there working with him, free from arthritic pain. Now that almost 5 weeks has elapsed since my hip replacement, I feel stronger and better on a daily basis and passed another major milestone yesterday: I managed to do a full day's work with Sir Wayne and a group of soldiers from the MoD School of Transport in East Yorkshire (the pictures left and right below show us having fun at the Crooked Billet).

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