Allotment mission starts here…

Ok, for me the start of the allotment season is buying the seed potatoes. This may be because we haven’t yet managed to gather the required where with all to actually sustain a growing campaign through the winter months, therefore the ‘start’ of the season is really the start of Spring. : )

So, Spring is nearly here and now is the time for getting the seedlings going, putting the finishing touches to soil preparation and buying and starting to chit potatoes.

We have made our pilgrimage to Dundry Nurseries for the seed potatoes – this year instead of the 6/7 varieties, we’re going for just two: for new potatoes / first earlies it’s Red Scarlett and for the Main Crop it’s Victoria. Both were selected from the Dundry website for the highest level of disease and pest resistance. The website is great for general info and a good tool for helping to choose varieties.

So, onion setts, potatoes etc will soon be put to work but in the meantime, there were jobs to be done at Plot 18B. I dug over 6 of the raised beds, spread out 5 tubs of home-produced compost onto last years potato area (peas and beans this year) and cleared a whole load of rubbish from the shed, which had been left from the previous plot holder.

I was there maybe two hours, during which time is started snowing (!!) and I was visited by my mate the ever-hungry worm eater. we’re trying out a weed-suppressant method which involves spreading newspaper over most of the soil and covering with more soil. we’ll have to wait and see if this works but could save some weeding. The great thing about digging is the heat it produces – just what I needed on a very cold day (see ice in water trough!). The rainbow chard and spinach had survived the winter with only minimal die back.

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Allotment Times…

In this latest edition of The Allotment Times, we’ll see potato banking up, weeding, wood chip laying, plant protection strategies and Rocket Gardens appreciation…

Lots of banking up of the potatoes needed – they looked really abundant before but a little sparse after! Some success stories and some not so good stories. The potatoes all look very healthy, the leeks, onions, and shallots look good. The strawberries are doing well and the cabbages are just about hanging in there.

Most of the carrots got munched by the slimy creatures but we’ve now got another 20 in to compensate! I also covered a whole section of the plot with whatever I could find just to try and stop the tough little weeds growing while we were away for a week or so.

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Allotment + time = weeds…!

The latest allotment adventure consisted of only maintenance – the first time we’ve needed to do this since last year. Mostly (very long) grass cutting around the borders of the plot, weeding and a bit of clearing. well worth it though and it now almost resembles a proper plot!

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We did roughly 5 hours of work between Claire and I and there is still another section around the middle to dig over. The latest Rocket Garden delivery is within the next 7 days (!!) so more planning needed. This will include more carrots, courgettes, celery, lettuce, beans, peas, tomatoes, artichoke, mint,  and parsley.

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Allotment growing and digging…

I’ve had no sight of the allotment for the past two rainy weeks and was itching to get over there.

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Managed to get the final section of the potato and onion patch dug over and carried on with the area between the potato patch and the raised beds. A new path has also been set out to the right side which gives a bit of definition.

Lots of healthy potato leaves popping up and the onions are well established. Also doing well are the various weeds! Lots of rain and mild weather has kicked them into life, so a weeding session is needed me thinks.

T-minus 1 week till the next delivery of Rocket Garden seedlings! Need more growing space!

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Allotment…

Some more digging done at the plot and the last of the produce, in the form of the experimental potatoes which I planted in one of the raised beds.

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These were from my Mum, and had grown inside the bag which she had received from Riverford. Instead of putting them in the compost, I put them in to grow – the results were roughly 3 times the weight which I put in.

I also dug over the area around the potato patch and an area in the corner where the raspberry bushes will be going. The black plastic sheet which we laid over that area did the job and after taking the sheet off and leaving it for a few weeks, it was fairly easy to dig over.

Finally, due mainly to one of the mildest autumns on record, weeds are already starting to grow out of the recently dug over area!

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Time for the allotment to wake-up…!

We’ve been slowly waking up to the fact that now is the time to kick start our allotment ambitions. If we had been making great progress with our growing this past year, we would now be pulling up all the plants and turning over the compost etc.

As it is, we’ve just been over to the allotment and done an hour of digging, but there wasn’t much to pull up out of the raised beds. Claire and I had a very rare opportunity to spend a small amount of time out of the house together without the boys, so we legged it over to the allotment.

We took up all the raised beds, got the last tomatoes and rainbow chard out, pulled out the canes, stacked the raised beds behind the shed, dug over and cleared a section of the corner of the plot measuring 2 x 2.5 metres (5 m2).

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Not a bad start and given how much we got done in only 1 hour, we’re now thinking we can do the whole plot with forks and spades, rather than using a friend’s rotavator, which obviously uses petrol. The whole plot is roughly 100 m2, so it would only take 2 people about 20 hours to do the whole thing. This could easily be done over a few weekends and we’re going to try and go up there for at least 2 hours every Saturday and Sunday.

The rough plan until the start of winter, is to clear the whole plot of weeds, raised beds, dead plants + move the raspberry bushes, pull back the black sheets and move the logs, branches and wood away.

Next is the digging and rotavating, which we’ve now started. We’ll come back and do a more thorough dig and weed removal, but it’s a start and will help to get the process of the weather breaking down the soil going.

Next is to add manure / fertiliser / compost, which is essential to improve the soil and boost the somewhat limited productivity. Based on what we’ve one today, we might keep going with the digging and clearing then add manure as we go. It’s all a learning process and we’ll just see how it works out.

Another thing we’re going to try is green manure, which could be mustard, which is grown during autumn and winter, then dug into the soil, which then breaks down and adds nutrients back in. It also helps to retain the nutrients from the compost and manure over winter.

We’ve got a long way to go but it was an amazing feeling doing that small amount of work there today. Very inspiring and really good exercise! There’s something about working the soil for a productive end which is just amazing.

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