Allotment

The Allotment in February

For the first time this year, I have been to the allotment. Mr C has made several visits over the winter so it was exciting to see the difference and admire his hard work. So much has happened there, and the recent (unexpectedly) warm weather meant we had a whole afternoon there on Sunday. Compared to last winter, it wasn’t anywhere near as muddy. This time last year we sunk ankle deep in the mud, but thankfully it’s just a bit damp now.

The original shed now has a rather lovely potting bench under the window, built from leftover pallet wood from the shed construction and some reclaimed worktops. The only cost was a few screws! It certainly neatens the place up.

Can you imagine little pots of seeds basking in the sun here?

We also got another shed that the chickens will live in once a couple more adaptations have been made (a door cut in the side with a little ramp, and a nesting box!) Mr C has built a decent sized run for them between the sheds, so they are near the water, which will make it easier to look after them there. It also uses the space well as the gap between the sheds isn’t really a growing space so it made sense to give it to the chickens. The main shed window still gets full light, so the potting bench can be used well. All we need now is a super name for the new chicken house, ‘poultry paradise’ sounds a tad cheesy! (That massive shed cost all of £25 as Mr C was asked to move it and got given first dibs!)

Chicken run and house (and leftover woodpile!)

Around the base of the run you can see mesh that has been buried. That is hopefully to stop foxes digging into the run (at least we’ve tried). The same mesh has also been used to make tree protectors, as either rabbits or deer have been nibbling our trees.

DIY tree cage

As well as the structures on the allotment, some of our attention has had to turn to the plants. Our delivery from a plant supplier arrived and needed dealing with fast! We were fortunate that the weather was on our side, and Saturday was spent planting strawberries in pots and dealing with blackberry canes. Lots of fun was had by the children using the compost we fetched from our (free but legit!) local source on Friday. The strawberries are residing in the greenhouse for now and the blackberries have a temporary home on the patio whilst we plan out the allotment properly. 

Plants! The pots were re used from last year.

Our delivery also contained raspberry canes, which we planted straight out on the plot on Sunday. We roughly planned where they would go, and marked out paths using planks of wood to hopefully prevent the children from going on there and breaking them. (At the moment they look like a lot of sticks poking out of the ground and they’re not easy to spot, hopefully the path will stop me tripping over them and breaking them too!)

The raspberries are to the right of the top part of the path, not that you can see them!

Before I did any planting, I tidied up the allotment, gathering up any stray bamboo cane structures from last year and pulling up the dead weeds. I also moved the raised beds to one side so that the soil can be rotavated in a few weeks. Deciding exactly how much to tidy was quite tricky, as things like the straw which we had on one of the beds will actually rotavate in quite nicely. In the end I went for ‘get rid of the scruffiest bits’. 

It’s amazing what you can manage in a few hours, and we feel more ready for planting in the spring now we’ve got it tidy and more organised. Little things like the potting bench make a big difference, although I think I’ll still do a good chunk of the initial seed work at home as I can squeeze it in around the children. (By the way, their contribution to the tidy up was putting about 3 weeds each into the wheelbarrow before disappearing to play football. They returned to ask for wheelbarrow rides just as I was putting it back into the shed!) Our next big task is to draw up an official plan for planting, and consult with the children about what they’d like to grow.

Several times in this post I mentioned the cost of things, as we are trying really hard to source things cheaply and locally, and also repurpose things that may be seen as ‘rubbish’ to others, such as the wire mesh used around the trees. We are lucky that our neighbour, also a keen allotmenteer, has done a bit of trading with us and lent us tools (like a post hole borer for putting in the chicken run). By keeping down unnecessary costs, we will then be able to buy other things that we can’t get so easily. (I’m trying to avoid buying too many plastic consumables, and use natural sources where possible, such as the peat pots we picked up cheaply at the end of last summer.)

I’m not entirely sure that winter is done with us yet, so any more plant work can wait. I feel much better now I’ve been back there and can think about what we want to do this year. We are hoping that this little redcurrant hasn’t poked it’s leaves out too soon!

An early sign of spring on the plot, or a game of weather roulette?

How’s everything  on your plot? What kinds of jobs do you do in February to prepare for the year ahead? Please share, I’d love to hear.

  

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27 thoughts on “The Allotment in February

  1. February for us here in Australia is the last month of summer. I have been doing a bit of tidying up too. Hedge trimming is one of those jobs. I also do a bit of tip pruning and general weeding. The tomatoes are ripe for picking but the strawberries are finished now. I have just planted some more basil and some chives. Our previous chives were decimated by some sort of tiny black fly. We had a big patch of chives but have had to start again from scratch. We love jacket potatoes with sour cream and chives so we need a large patch of chives.
    Our apple tree was doing well but the king parrots got in under the netting and have eaten a large part of our crop. We may only get a few when they are ready. We will need to come up with a better netting system.
    When we planted our trees we also had to protect them, the hares were the main culprits of doing damage, sometimes eating straight through the whole stem of the tree, even the more mature trees could be ring barked by the hares so the protection stays to prevent this.
    Sounds as though you have a great year ahead of you in your allotment. I look forward to seeing pictures of the progress. What sort of chooks will you get for your Chook Cabin?

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    1. I’m quite glad we don’t have parrots to contend with here! (Hoping nothing else eats our apples.) You sound very busy, one thing we don’t yet have is herbs so they will feature on the plan somewhere. Our chickens are just regular brown ones (I’ve no idea on actual names as we got them from a project at the school I worked in, my class watched them hatch and then the company let us keep the chicks!) They are 4 years old now, when they pass away we will get a different variety, maybe some bantams.

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  2. Surprised! I didn’t know chickens are allowed on allotments. Aren’t you worried about theft? Is the spot so close you can visit daily? Have never seen chicks on allotments before, so this was interesting.

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    1. Several allotments at ours have chickens on, we just applied to the parish council and got written permission. The site is only 1 mile away and we both drive past regularly, so quite easy for one of us to pop in and check. It’s quite quiet so theft isn’t a major concern either. Perhaps we are just lucky here!

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  3. It’s nice to get back in the great outdoors and start preparing for the year ahead, I’ve been out in the garden and had a little tidy and it looks so much better already. Looks like you’re going to be super prepared with all your planting plans. Your chickens should be happy there too. Our girls are getting a revamp of their area very soon too. I cannot wait for spring now 😊🐔🌷

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  4. What a fabuous post! Ahh, I now feel like I’m back at home. (I wasn’t in Kansas for a while (poorly)).

    The potting bench in the shed is brilliant. And I love the chickens hutch. How many chickens do you have?

    Does your chicken run have a ‘roof’ (wire netting)? As I’m a tad worried that a fox could get in and kill your little darlings. Foxes are so cunning and intelligent.

    Bantams-v-your ‘brown chickens’ which you have at the moment: Your brownies (Breed: possibly Warrens) probably lay quite biggish eggs, which are yummy! Bantams only lay small eggs – ours only lays little blue eggs – which are richer in taste. In fact, Dotties eggs are so rich that my tummy can’t cope with them. But that’s probably just my silly tummy. They’re great in baking … but you have to use two (or three sometimes) to every ‘Brownie Chicken’ egg you would use now.

    Also, Bantams tend to lay for a shorter time (over a year). Our Bantam Dottie only lays for about 8 months of the year, where-as Edna (a Warren) normally lays almost all through the year, apart from when she’s in a moult.
    Just thought that since we have experience of both I could give you a view on both and that way if you decide to go with all bantams you’ll have some of the down sides to them.

    VERY good luck with the ‘mini farm’ you have going on, this year. I’m really looking forward to updates and photos as the seasons get going and things wake up.
    Sending love and squidges ~ Cobs. x

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the lovely tips, we are still not really sure, but our daughter took a real shine to a bantam at a garden centre and had to be peeled away so that’s one of the main reasons we want some. We don’t rely on the chickens for eggs but they are very handy! Good to know the size differences. I think Mr C still has some work to do on the chicken run, so a ‘roof’ may well be on the cards! Thanks for dropping by x

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  5. While we can see the ground (most of the time) here in Colorado it is still very much winter.
    I’ve been out dreaming and pacing out fence lines (new property for us to use), calculating how much soil/compost to order for the beds I’ve got in mind.
    I’m rather jealous of your temperate weather, but then again I grew up with that sort of weather and that’s a big reason why I live in Colorado!

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  6. Loved reading your post. Here in on the East coast of Canada, I can only dream of gardening. My preparations in March will be starting seeds indoors. The first job of the season is making maple syrup and the sap has started running so spring will surely follow.

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