Allotment Year – April 2012

I had a very soggy visit to the allotment yesterday.   It was a case of having to go as I hadn’t visited for just over a week and as I am away next weekend it would be another 7-8 days before I would have another opportunity.  As I have been working so hard at the plot I wasn’t too worried about the work that might need to be done but I wanted to pick some rhubarb and purple sprouting broccoli, plant out some extra pea and broad bean plants I had and also put some straw around the strawberries.

You can see how wet it was and my hands were chilled very quickly.  I was glad I visited as there were lots of signs of growing.  Salsify, pak choi, spinach, rocket, spring onions, lettuce had all germinated as well as the nigella and calendula I have sown round some of the beds.  The first leaves of the potatoes have also come through.

The only downside was that something has had a go at my cauliflowers.  It could be slugs or rabbits though I have taken precautions against slugs and rabbit fencing has recently been put in so I am wondering if the damage is pigeons.  Anyway, I will see if they are still there when I next get to visit and if not so be it and I will use the bed for something else.

The orangey brown stuff you can see at the far end is spent hops.  There is a micro  brewery up the road from the site and they drop off the spent hops.  I rarely get any as its delivered during the week but over Easter I happened to go down early one Thursday morning and there were bags waiting to be taken.  It was a bit of a slog barrowing them down the site to my plot but worth it as the hops really lighten the heavy soil and improves drainage.  It has made a real difference to the beds where I applied it last year.

I couldn’t find a photograph from April 2011 to show the progress I have made over the last year but above is a photograph taken in March 2011 and it is quite startling to see just how dry the soil was a year ago. I remember it being hard work. You can also see some of the progress on surrounding plots.  There are only a couple now where no or little progress has been made and the atmosphere is very different to last year.  I find it very interesting to see all the different styles of plots and approaches.

I did get to do all the jobs despite my fingers quickly becoming chilled and the mud getting everywhere even from just spreading the straw around the strawberries.  This is their second year and last year we only had a handful of berries.  I don’t know whether that is because they need time to establish or it was too dry but this year I am determined to get a good crop.  They have been mulched with manure and this has resulted in loads and loads of flowers so I decided to use the old fashioned approach and tuck straw in under the flowers.  Who knows this year we might get enough berries to have a bowl each

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17 Comments Add yours

  1. elaine says:

    I am envious of the fact that you have managed to get so much planted – it has been near impossible here – constant rain and strong winds – I’m afraid I am a fair-weather gardener. Everything is still in the greenhouse – which is bursting at the seams. We have had enough rain now – thank you very much.

    1. patientgardener says:

      Hi Elaine – a lot is overwintered. The Japanese onions have done very well over the winter as has the garlic

  2. Mark and Gaz says:

    Despite the rain and a period of absence its all looking very neat and tidy Helen.

    I hadnt heard of hops being used for soil improvement before, how heavy is your soil?

    1. patientgardener says:

      Hi Mark & Gaz – the soil isnt too bad but there is clay in it and it hasnt been cultivated for decades so anything helps. Also smells fab, though on a suny day you can get a bit high

  3. Donna says:

    I agree with Mark & Gaz re your plot – you’ve obviously put a lot of solid work into it (whenever you’ve managed to get up there) and it really shows! PS your strawbs look very healthy – ours aren’t flowering as yet, but let us know whether the ‘straw’ helps and we might try it too!

    1. patientgardener says:

      Hi Donna – if nothing else teh strawberry smelt nice and looks attractive (also hides the weeds!)

  4. I love your plot…it is so well laid out and planted…so much hard work and it shows…fabulous strawberry flowers…ours are barely growing…many growers use straw but never tried it myself.

    1. patientgardener says:

      Hi Donna – I tried strawberry mats last year but they did seem a bit pointless so it will be interesting to see how the straw works

  5. The contrast with last year is marked in so many ways – I seem to be a couple of weeks behind compared to 2011. I diidn’t realise just how big your plot was. No wonder digging it was such hard work.

    1. patientgardener says:

      Hi Dave – the plot is 6m x 20m and it was virgin field so hard work. However, there are less weeds this year so it can only get better

  6. croftgarden says:

    You’ve done a good job on the Herefordshire/Worcestershire clay, it is one of the things I was not sorry to leave behind. You seem to be making great progress inspite of the weather.

  7. Rose says:

    You must feel very proud of the progress you’ve made, it looks great! The geotextile on the paths really helps to make it look tidy and must be great in this wet weather.
    I bet the cauli damage is pigeons, they are a real pest here and any brassicas have to be protected or they get shredded.

  8. Anna says:

    I think that you will soon be picking bowls and bowls of strawberries. Wondering what the secret is to your psb success – my four plants have produced rather sparsely – delicious all the same but I wanted more. You deserve a medal for venturing out yesterday!

  9. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Hi from Yvonne – NZ – Do you use layers of newspaper to cover weeds and then break down to compost. What a big veggie patch (we don’t have many allotments here) You have put a lot of work in, hope feeds you lots of nice vitamins.

  10. Your plot is looking great – a real encouragement for beginners like me! I planted three beds before the rain set in. Obviously looking forward to harvesting the crops but this week I will be happy if a few leaves appear!!

    1. patientgardener says:

      Hi Patricia – I found last year that breaking the new plot down into chunks made it more manageable for me. You get a quicker sense of achievement when you can see one chunk completed.

  11. Amazing contrast between last year and this – just shows there’s nothing so unpredictable as Brit weather! My strawberries are also covered in flowers; they were runners from 2010, planted into well-mulched soil (over clay) in 2011 and produced very little fruit. I was going to dig them up and plant sweetcorn in the space this year and, dammit, they’re now all set to provide tons of fruit! Oh what is a girl to do!

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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