Monday 25 February 2008

All systems go!

We've had our plot five weeks now and although we've been working up there at least once a week since then we've still not seen many of our fellow plot holders. This weekend however the site seemed a bit livelier with a good five or six plots being worked when we turned up on Saturday. Amongst them was the owner of our neighbouring plot, a lovely guy called Mike (I think, I have a horrible habit of forgetting names three seconds after being told them) who came over and had a chat. We also met a nice lady (who's name completely escapes me, see, told you I was bad at this) who has a plot half way down the site, she told us that in the summer it's normally packed and seems like a little village all on it's own which sounds like just what we were hoping for. The one thing everyone we've spoken to has in common is they all say what a great plot we've been given, how well looked after it had been by the previous owner (who we now know is 82, no wonder he had to give it up!) and what a large amount of produce he used to get out of it. So, no pressures there then, let’s hope we can live up to his standards.

In terms of jobs jobbed we got another bed weeded and dug over before covering two of the beds in manure from the large pile that had appeared at the top of the site.
We've covered one of the freshly manured beds over with plastic again which may or may not be the things to do. Most people on the site seem to leave the ground uncovered once they've put the manure on but we thought we'd try covering one back up to see if that keeps it all moist and helps it do its job better. We'll see what happens... The manure is actually less strawy than it looks in this pic, we'll try and pick the worst of it out when we come to plant/dig it in though.
It doesn't feel like we actually got a huge amount done really but it's all progress and with most of the beds still covered in plastic the plot doesn't actually look much different to how it did before the day before. Out of the nine beds currently marked out four have been dug and three of those manured (I think that's all we'll manure this year as I know some things aren't that keen on freshly manured ground) so there's still a lot of work to be done. Thankfully, with us planning to start most of our crops at home in pots, there's no immediate rush for ground space so we can continue to do one bed a weekend and not kill ourselves all being well.

Talking of starting things off at home, Sunday marked the official start of our sowing season. I've got a sowing diary all set out and I'm going to try to stick to that as best I can which should mean sowing little and often rather than starting a million things off at once. First up were some red cabbage (Fuego) and bell peppers (California Wonder) for the allotment as well as some chilli (Capsicum Twilight) and three different types of basil (normal, lemon and dark opal) to grow at home.

As you can see, not everything we grow will be done at the allotment, as well as things like herbs and chillies we've also got some over wintering garlic (Solent Wright) in the back garden as well as some very sad looking onions which I think have suffered from a late start (thanks to Dobies delivering them horribly late) coupled with a certain amount of attention from our two very curious kittens, I'll give them a bit longer just in case they perk up but at the moment I'm tempted just to pull them up and pretend they never happened. Here's the garlic though, never grown it before so we're quite pleased with them so far.

We also did a bit of a trawl through the cheapy shops in Gloucester on Saturday to see what we could find for the garden/allotment. Best find was some garden fleece in Poundland, 1m x 6m for a quid isn't to be sniffed at so we nabbed three packs and may go back for more. Also in Poundland Melanie (who is determined that we'll be growing some flowers this year at home now we won't be filling all the space with veg) picked up a load of different flower bulbs, I could tell you the varieties but obviously being a man their names went in one ear and out the other while I concentrated on how much fleece we'd need. However, some flowery things did grab my attention when I spied a box of rake in flower seed. It seems to be about twenty different types of flower seed in a box that you can just scatter on the prepared soil, rake in and leave it to grow a quick and easy display of colour. It seemed like the perfect way to bring a splash of colour to the allotment so I bought a pack and with any luck we'll run a long thin flower bed along the edge of the plot next to the path which should look nice as well as attract the bug eating insects.

So there we go, a busy weekend all in all. The plot is slowly taking shape, a few things have been sown, we've topped up our gardening supplies and I even bought some flower seed. Wonders will never cease.


Anonymous said...

Looks like it's coming on nicely. I suppose it does make sense to cover the manure as it will rot down quicker if it is warmer, like a commpost bin would. If the site's been well used you should have plenty of wormy beasties to drag it down. You might have to dig it in though as clumps of poo aren't great to plant into :)

You are going to have soooo much going on before you know it!

Anonymous said...

You've also done a comprehensive entry telling us all about it.
Well done, it's all looking good, and you really have done a lot in a short time!
Have a good week and happy allotmenteering!

Matron said...

Your manure covered in black plastic will be fantastic to plant your seed potatoes direct in the ground in April. Just make a cross slit in the top. I have seen many gardeners plant all sorts of things through fabric. It works well as long as the water can get through.

Paul and Melanie said...

Yep, VegMonkey, I'm guessing it'll need digging in a couple of weeks before we plant into it as there's no way it'll all have been worked in by then. Just have to remember not to use those beds for carrots! ;)

lol that would have been a good plan Matron, but we've already picked our potato beds as we've made them a bit bigger than the rest so we can fit more in. Would manure be a good thing to put at the bottom of the trench that we dig to plant the spuds in though?

Anonymous said...

Wow, how well are you two doing! The plot looks fantastic, you actually have beds and everything, it won't be long until you are busy cropping away. Good luck and hope you have fun with it all.

Anonymous said...

If you have access to fresh horse manure, I would suggest that you build a big pile in a corner of your allotment to rot down for next year. It will be lovely and friable plus being a real asset to your compost. Most people on our site have bins made from pallets full of the stuff, albeit a bit whiffy to start with.

Nome said...

Hi. Loving the blog! You guys are so lucky; our allotment was a mess when we took it on nearly a year ago - covered in nettles and four-foot-high docks, couch grass galore and a bramble which we're still struggling with, right in the middle! Best of luck for the coming year. It's gonna be great!

Anonymous said...

Hi Paul, your site looks idyllic with the thatched cottage and hills in the background. Does the wind whip in off there?

You've got a great attitude to allotmenting - real enthusiasm, but great respect for the previous tenant, and it's really nice to see.

That garlic looks healthy.


Paul and Melanie said...

Thanks Simon, I'm glad the enthusiasm comes across as that’s the one thing we're defiantly full of. :)

As for the wind, we've not had any serious wind since we took the plot over, although I did have to go and adjust some of the black plastic that had got a bit misplaced last week. But I think you're probably right and we will suffer a bit when it does hit, we'll just have to hope it's not too bad...