Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Allotment update ... ...

In case anyone was wondering we still have our allotment plot, the main reason I haven't posted about it's progress is because there hasn't really been that much, I could have written quite a few posts about weeding, and how cold the weather is, but unless you've been under a rock you know what the weather's been like and if you garden you know what buggers weeds can be.

To that end I've decided to combine all the recent plot progress into one post.

Here's what the plot looked like as of March this year -

Plenty of weeding to do.

Most of the stuff we planted over winter (cabbages and such like) fell victim to slugs, and the weather, it wasn't just our plot either, other plots had trouble as well.

It wasn't until the end of March that I managed to get enough free time to start trying to get things into shape for growing stuff. I decided early on to use the top section of the plot to grow stuff, rather than build the polytunnel, which I will eventually do, so I started digging over the top section and the bottom section.

And by the time I'd finished the top section looked like this - 

There was loads of Ground Elder.

The whole plot looked like this when I left it -

Looks a bit tidier.

And that was it for March, onwards into April.

I managed to get much more done in April, mainly as the weather improved a bit, and as it was only about a week later there's no before picture as it looked pretty much like it did when I left it at the end of March.

Over the course of about eight or nine hours (spread over three weeks) I managed to get most of the plot cleared, and got some stuff in the ground, like spuds and some broad beans, peas and onions (reds and whites) I also managed to get all the Raspberry plants relocated into their own bed, away from the main growing areas.

Raspberry plant bed - 

Not expecting much from them this year.

Found this little chap (or chap-ess) whilst digging - 

Organic slug control at it's best.

That was it for the first session in April, mainly clearing and getting ready for planting stuff.

For the second session I managed to remove a good three barrow fulls of weeds and managed to get seven rows of spuds in the top section, and I also pruned what can only be described as a massive Hop plant right back to the ground, there are a few Hop plants dotted around the plot, mainly at the edges, they are handy plants (Hops have a variety of uses) but they grow like weeds.

First lot of spuds in - 

Yes this is the same top section of the plot.

Then it was just a case of continuing to clear weeds and dig the ground over, I also moved the pea growing frames from last years location to this years location, I've been trying to rotate the crops about a bit so I'm not growing things in the same place two years in a row, I'm also using the beans and peas to lock nutrients into the soil, the whole moving things about seems to be working quite well, and if the weather is okay this year will be our best year for crops (famous last words)

I also had to re-do the plot sign as the wooden one had faded a bit, once I've fixed it up a bit I'll put it back down the allotment, but for the time being I made a stencil and using some black spray paint I sprayed the plot number onto the front panel that makes up part of the boundry.

Not the most aesthetically pleasing sign, but it does the job - 

It'll do as a temporary measure.

Once I was done it looked like this, starting to look like it's going to be productive, which is good as the council are clamping down on people not making the most of the plots, and by this point I'd managed to sow carrots,parsnips,peas,broad beans and the onions and the first lot of spuds, all of which are growing, despite the weather.

All done for now - 

In the battle of weeds I'm winning, or am I ?

The most recent session was only about a week ago, and was a great day for gardening, at least until the rain came, and there was a lot of it.

This is what greeted me - 

It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be.

A few weeks had past since the last visit, so a few weeds was to be expected, but after an hour with the hoe most of the sections that had been planted up were clear.

You can see in the picture above that I'd already sorted out a frame for growing beans up, and this time I'd bought a load of runner bean plants with me, that we'd started off in the greenhouse at home.

Top section all weeded - 

I had thought the frame might fall over in the high winds we'd had.

It's quite a large bean frame, which I made out of strips of wood from pallets, and my wife had pointed out that there was space in between the frame, so I figured I'd put it to good use, so I planted two rows of Turnips and a row of Swedes, which should do fine where they are, even once the beans are fully grown they will still get the sun as the plot is south facing.

I also planted the last of our Beetroot seeds the other side of the bean frame (I'll have to remind the kids not to stomp on them)

Seeds sown - 

That's that done, onto more spud planting.

More wildlife, this time a caterpillar that will turn into a Drinker moth - 

This is a new one for us, never seen one before.

We managed to pick up some cheap seed spuds from one of our local diy type shops, so I figured I'd get them in the ground as well, although I kind of under estimated how much space I was going to need, so I ended up having to do more digging and clearing than I had thought in order to fit in another six rows of spuds, but at least we should get two crops, if they all grow that is.

Another six rows - 

I took this just as I was leaving because of the monsoon.

I've noticed some plants growing that were left over from last year, so rather than dig them up I left them in the ground, which is why there's a part row of Parsnips between the rows of spuds in the picture above.

I made a new bird scarer for the allotment, in a vain attempt to stop the birds eating the pea shoots and everything else, it'll probably work for five minutes until they get used to it, it does spin round so maybe I'll be lucky, I cut out two vaguely falcon shaped sails for it, in the hope that they'll cast shadows on the ground and trick the birds into thinking there's  predator about, but like I said it maybe wishful thinking on my part.

Here's the bird scarer, I was testing it in the garden - 

It might work...

As we have chickens we try and put the egg shells to good use, and so I figured I'd use some to protect the beans a little, we've had good results with using egg shell rather than slug pellets, and because we don't use any chemical based things on the allotment or the garden this suits our way of thinking, apologies for the blurry picture, but by the time I took it the rain was thundering down, which in a way was good as I'd forgotten the watering can for watering in the seeds, mother nature to the rescue.

Egg shells really do repel slugs and snails (try it) -

Sorry for the blurry cam.

And this is how it all looked when I last saw it - 

A bit soggy, but coming along nicely.

I probably won't get down to the plot for a another couple of weeks now, but when I do I should be ready for planting in a load of different squashes (pumpkins etc) and corn and a load of other stuff, so by the end of June the whole plot should be full of stuff, and if the summer actually happens we should be in for a good year with what we have at the allotment and in the garden.

Thanks for reading.

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