Big Bed Brassicas

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This week at the allotment, it’s been all about Big Bed Brassicas. Following ‘manure-gate’ we’ve been waiting and wondering what to do with the big bed. In the end, Mr O took off the top layer of soil (manure) and replaced it with top soil. We then had an interesting evening doing ‘jigs’ up and down planks of wood on top of the bed, to try and flatten out and compress the soil (having heard that brassicas quite like firm soil). We left that evening admiring the big bed and feeling quite smug. One of the other allotmenteers even commented on how lovely and flat it looked. On returning to our plot the following day however, there was a large wiggly track right through the middle of the bed (? mouse ? mole) from a small creature who had obviously not got the memo. So we did another jig.

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Finally, it was time to plant our Cabbage, Purple Sprouting Broccoli, Calabrese, Kale and Brussels Sprouts, which have so far been growing in seedbeds on the plot. We planted around half of the seedlings, due to the fact that there was just so many (slight rookie miscalculation in how many we’d need). Having learnt from experience with our other crops though, it also felt good to have some left in the seedbed as ‘backup’ should the worst happen. There’s also a fair bit of ‘seedling sharing’ on our allotments too, so it’ll be good to proudly pass on some of ours to our neighbouring allotmenteers and make a contribution.

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Several hours later (another rookie miscalculation on how long it’d take to replant six rows of veg) the bed was finished at last. The plants all looked very droopy and sorry for themselves immediately after transplanting, but we were told by a neighbour that this is usual and not to fret. Mr O built some plastic arches out of piping, which we covered with netting to protect against pests and the job was done.

Elsewhere on the plot the week, we had bit of a sad moment when the majority of our second batch of Cucumber, Courgette, Pumpkin and Gherkin seedlings shrivelled up and went to the big allotment in the sky. We still have one or two left, which are being nursed in a Critical Care setting, and hopefully they’ll pull through. I’m not sure if it’s us that have made errors with these tender plants or not, but knowing that it was (now officially) the coldest spring since 1962 gives us something to blame ! Rather than replanting for a third time, we’ve filled the space with some (hopefully hardier) Mange Tout and more Peas and French Beans. We’ve also filled in the gaps with Lettuce and more Carrots, and have Paris Market Carrots and Radishes growing in our garden at home.

It’s no walk in the park having an allotment. The weather is usually too hot or too cold, you have perpetual sunburn or blue fingers and there are pests which want to eat or rummage through your hard work or just turn up dead on your plot. There are dilemmas and decisions to be made, and the threat of E coli. There are drilled-through-fingers and sore backs and lots of hard work.

But this week I also saw this.

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It’s definitely worth it.

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