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