Things are moving really fast on the allotment, and it seems to have happened suddenly in the last fortnight or so. (All estimates say we are a month behind and I can fully agree, but playing catch up is very hard work!) It is no longer waterlogged as it was in my last allotment post, and has reverted back to being rock hard baked clay. Mr C borrowed a much more powerful rotavator from another allotment holder and used it to go over the new allotment (which had been ploughed and then rotavated roughly). He did this twice, and it is now in nice small pieces. Still a little large for sowing seed in, but fine enough to plant seedlings and onion sets.
Over May Day bank holiday weekend, we began planting seed potatoes and red and white onions in rows. It seems very odd as the new plot has no defined areas so it feels like planting in a field. We used the roller to make some paths between the rows of onions and potatoes, and I’ve added some recycled pallet collars, along with one of the old raised beds from the back plot. This has sort of helped, although I am struggling to see how we will manage to cultivate the whole plot this year.
In the photo, you can see the raised beds, which I filled with brassicas that were in the compost we got, and some lettuces which another plot holder gave us. I had a couple of hours there this morning, planting, watering and doing a spot of weeding. Oh, and using the weed burner to set fire to the dandelion seeds. (I probably shouldn’t admit to enjoying that!)
On the back plot (which was our original one), the raspberries have settled in well in their new spot. We researched ways to help them grow better and one tip was to use grass cuttings as a mulch. We began this last week and it’s really helping to retain the moisture. Most of them are autumn fruiting so there’s no sign of anything except leaves year, but it’s looking good. The fruit trees have all blossomed beautifully, so I’m hopeful that we may get some fruit this year. (Last year they blossomed in early April, and a late frost caused almost all of the fruit to drop off.) The strawberries have had to stay in their old position as we went from waterlogged soil to having flowering plants very quickly. We will see how well they grow; I’m not going to beat myself up about it as it was beyond my control. The rhubarb patch is also growing well, but we have chosen not to harvest any so that the crowns can build up some strength. Mr C’s dad has some well-established rhubarb on his plot which he is letting us pick instead!
As for other crops, they are all beginning life at our house. Our first attempts at growing from seed failed miserably. I wasn’t sure whether it was the home made compost, the old seeds or the cold weather, so I waited until it was warmer, bought new seeds and bought a small bag of compost. I also put the propagators on the conservatory windowsills. The results this time were almost miraculous! Within 4 days I had trays full of seedlings (the pumpkins were up within 3 days!) and I have already begun the hardening off process ready to plant them out at the end of May, which is our last frost date. We have sown pumpkins, tomatoes, courgettes, butternut squash, sweetcorn, beans and basil. The peppers have not grown so I am abandoning them for this year. In the photo they are on the patio having their first day outdoors in the shade of the clematis.
After not being able to do much at all, I now feel inundated with jobs. If only there were more than 24 hours in a day! Mr C and I were gallivanting in the Peak District (without the mini Crafts!) last weekend so we are still catching up from that. I’m going to make my May job list here to try and motivate myself.
- Weed the rhubarb bed and the strawberry patch
- Mow the back plot and grass paths weekly
- Sheet the area set aside for strawberries for next year
- Sow carrots, beetroot and parsnips on the front plot (after collecting more compost)
- Net the strawberries and brassicas
- Plant out the squashes etc. from home
- Build the bean frame and plant beans
- Keep moving the chicken coop to help with weed control
- Keep on top of weeds between newly planted potatoes and onions
- Strategically place bird deterrents-bottles on sticks, CDs and possible a scarecrow
- Pot tomatoes on and organise a place to plant them at home
I think we may be busy! We are being quite careful with times for going to the plot as I really am not good in the heat and there is no shelter, which also makes it tricky to take the children. This morning I was able to go early as I didn’t have the school run to do, and I could do much more than when I go in the middle of the day. I’m going to make allotment trips a priority on my days off work and go there as soon as the children are dropped off at school now.
How is your garden/allotment coming on? Are you quite relaxed about catching up or are you running around like a headless chicken? (I am trying not to stress too much, as it’s meant to be fun, but I would like some beetroot so I can make chutney again and I haven’t sown any yet!)