Whilst the builders are working on our house. we are trying to get the allotment in shape for the growing season. Our aim this year is to keep it very simple, as once the builders finish in about 4 weeks we take over and start decorating so our time for allotmenteering will be quite limited. We are trying to plan ahead now to make sure the plot is manageable, productive and also not too scruffy!
Like last year, the main focus for annual crops will be the front plot. The back plot will still be busy enough, with the raspberry canes, fruit trees and rhubarb, but it is very easily waterlogged and also not particularly fertile. We are hoping to kill off as many weeds as possible using weedkiller (not the ideal approach, but it was a bit neglected last year so we need a fresh start and digging the whole thing is not an option). We then plan to rotavate it, and very quickly sow some green manure to try and restore some nutrients. Once that has grown and been rotavated in I’m hoping we can grow some things on it. If we can’t we will plan a further set of green manure to try and hold back the weeds.
The front plot has already had weed killer applied and it has been pretty successful thanks to a dry spring. We were going to sheet it to prevent further weed growth, but have decided to grow on some areas and sow green manure on the ‘spare’ areas. Mr C has been over it 3 times with the rotavator and it is now ready for planting.
As far as crops go we have all sat down together (children included) to decide which things we would like to grow and eat. The list is pretty extensive, but luckily the seed tin still had a few packs in so we just had to do a little top up. The children are keen to grow pumpkins again, and sweetcorn, and I wanted to grow beetroot. Mr C is determined to grow some brussels sprouts! We all agreed lots more onions were needed this year as we used last year’s very quickly. Strawberries were another popular one, and last Friday the children and I moved 45 strawberry plants from the old patch to an area of the front plot which we sheeted over last year. Hopefully they will thrive there!
The photo above shows the newly rotavated plot-the horizontal strip quite far up it is the strawberry patch. (It fitted into the allotment plan last year with where we had planted things, but right now it looks like a very randomly placed strip!
We are very conscious of the fact that insects rely on the flowers, which is one reason why we are opting for green manure rather than plastic sheeting. We know the soil needs nutrients, but we are struggling to find time on days off to go and fetch horse manure in the quantities required. At least with the green manure we can order it online in the form of seeds and just plant when we have the chance. I wasn’t keen on using weedkiller, but rotavating the weeds straight in would have trebled our problems in the summer. There are also flowers on weeds around the edges of the plot, and we hope to have a few other flowers on some of the plot too-just a small patch.
Hopefully we can still have a productive summer, even with less time than is ideal. The children and I will be planting some seeds later this week in pots/loo roll tubes/propogators at home ready to take to the allotment when the frosts are all done. They also want to grow cucumbers, but we don’t have a greenhouse. However, my father in law does, and so the children have asked grandad very nicely if he will grow them some mini cucumbers! (We provided the seeds.)
What are your plans for growing this year? Do you have any more tips for keeping an allotment manageable?