All Change

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The last couple of weeks have been all about change on the allotment, as we start the planned expansion of our plot onto new ground.  Around a third of our plot has previously been covered in black plastic, and filled with Mr O’s ‘finds’ to put put to good future use.  Now however, a greenhouse is on it’s way up, a new gate and fence installed (upcycled from pallets and an old door of course !) and tractor tyres have been rolled in, ready for some aggressive flower planting.  On the ‘old’ side of the plot, two new wooden beds have replaced the old tractors tyres, and we’ve dusted off the lawnmower for the first time this season to give the plot a Spring haircut.

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Aside from the structural work, the business of planting goes on.  Our first wave of seedlings are out into the mini greenhouse in the garden (having been potted on), and the second wave – Runner Beans, Aubergine, Sweetcorn, Gherkin, Cucumbers, Courgette and Pumpkins, Zinnia and Dianthus – are planted indoors and are happily germinating as we speak.

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As well as the old favourites, we’re making sure we’re growing plenty of fruit, veg and flowers which we haven’t grown before, to keep things fresh.  It was exciting to see beautiful flowers on our Cherry tree and Blackcurrant bushes for the first time this week – although Mr O assures me we won’t be making our own Ribena just yet !  Our Asparagus is at last shooting up through the soil, the Broad Beans are on their way and the newly expanded Strawberry bed seems to have been a success (fingers and toes crossed).

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The busiest month of the year for allotmenteers, there’s no time to get bored in April !

🙂

Blue Sky Digging

Digging for Victory

For the last month, we’ve been working hard at giving our allotment a rookie spring make over, and we’ve expanded the actual growing area of our plot by around 75% by weeding, tidying and pulling back the masses of black plastic floor covering laid down for the winter, to reveal quite a sizable plot.

We’ve decided to opt for raised beds throughout the plot (apart from one bed), and this is because raised beds theoretically have less weeds, better drainage and warmer soil. Not only this, but they have aesthetic appeal and hopefully will be easier to tend. Mr O has constructed the raised beds out of re-cycled wood, old tractor tyres and – wait for it – old baths – half a dozen or more of which now line the top of the allotment ! The plot is far from regimented, but hopefully will look good and be productive without getting out the measuring tape and spirit level.

This week, we’ve actually started getting some of our seeds and seedlings into the soil. Because of the unseasonably cold weather, we resorted to growing trays of seedlings on windowsills around the house during March and April, before gingerly ‘hardening them off’ in our mini garden greenhouse. Now the risk of frost has hopefully passed, we’re braving it and hoping that at least some will be strong enough to survive. We’ve decided to grow the vast majority of our crops from seed – there’s just something so addictively exciting about watching them germinate and come to life in their little pots (I definitely need to get out more !) Growing from seed also has the benefit of being cheaper and also allowing successional planting – i.e starting off a few plants at a time to ensure a constant supply of veg through the season.

I read or heard recently that allotmenteers should aim for around a dozen crops in their plot. We’ve been rather gung-ho to say the least, and unable to resist the temptation of trying out everything, we recently totted up a grand total of 40 planned crops – ooops ! Juggling so many plants I’m beginning to wonder if this plan is genius or insanity …

So far, we’ve got Leeks, Spring Onions, Carrots, Broccoli, Calabrese, Brussels Sprouts, Beetroot, Parsnips, Cabbage, Pumpkins, Cucumber, Courgette, Sweetcorn, Shallots, Garlic, Potatoes and Jerusalem Artichokes in the ground. We’re lucky enough to have inherited an Apple tree and Blackberries (from Mother Nature) on the plot, we have Strawberries, Raspberries, Gooseberries and Rhubarb and have recently bought miniature Fig and Cherry trees too. We’ve made a tentative start but there’s still so much to do.

Wish us luck !