First and foremost Happy Easter! I hope you all had a wonderful easter weekend, I certainly had a productive and busy 4 day-er and managed to knock quite a few things of my To-Do list at the end of my last post.
Plans for march include; Building my second and possibly third planter Creating an area for the strawberries to go Rehoming the potted apple trees to a more permanent place Sorting the pathways General tidy up of the plot as it's looking a bit unkept with timber strewn everywhere and finally planting something in my bed!(maybe, depends on frost,etc.)
So over the course of march, I kept putting off building my second bed as I knew what to expect and how much work would be involved, more in clearing the old beds than building the actual planters. One of the previous owners decided to use thick plastic weed sheets EVERYWHERE, and as they've been neglected for so long mother nature did her thing and claimed them for herself haha which basically meant lifting 4-6 inches of turf from the top of these sheets before i could remove the plastic itself. I have a feeling all this plastic is contributing to the standing water and general bogginess of the plot, hopefully removing it will allow some better drainage of the site *crosses fingers*. Whilst digging all this plastic up I did come across a lot of worms which is surely a sign that there is some nutrients in the clay-like soil, i've also added 100 litres of well rotted manure and some poultry pellets to the bed which should certainly help, more on that later though. One of the first things I did last month was sort my pathway between beds 1 and 2, and as luck would have it the site had a woodchip delivery, which I only discovered on one sunday evening when i'd nipped up to the plot to pick up some seed trays. Knowing how rare these deliveries are, (we get 1 or 2 drops a year!), I decided to head to the plot straight after work on the monday evening and get as much as I could, without being greedy, before everyone else got hold of it at the coming weekend.
So I laid out some cardboard(Pic 1), for weed prevention and dumped 4 barrow loads on top, loosely spread it out with the back of my rake(Pic 2), then realised my mistake.... I hadn't even laid out bed 2 yet! However seeing a path of sorts gave me a boost of enthusiasm and when the weekend came around I set out to fix my mistake and at least get the path-side edge of the bed in place,which is what I did. As carefully as I could I pushed the woodchip up against bed 1, measured 800mm to the next bed, so i have plenty of space for a barrow, weeding, planting, etc. put the corner posts in and screwed the board in place, then extended the cardboard to cover the whole area and re-applied the woodchip. Fortunately there was still some woodchip left although not very much and another couple of barrowfuls late I had just enough to cover all the card(Pic 3) and I have to say it looks bloody good! haha. It's genuinely surprising how something as simple as a path can motivate me to keep going and that the end product will be worth all the hard work.
The following weekend it was time to take a break of sorts from the allotment and focus on my own garden at home, and maybe plant a few seeds for the plot. I have a whiskey barrel water feature in my garden which was looking a bit sad post winter and decided it needed a bit of tlc. A trip to a local nursery for a few bedding plants and a few hours of tinkering later I had something I was happy with. Originally the top barrel fed into the bottom one creating a waterfall type effect but I never really liked it so decided to repurpose it and fill it with compost from the old veg bed where my strawberries used to live. It now looks much better, especially in the evening.
I also managed to get my strawberry plants dug up, and was pleasantly surprised to find the 4 I planted last year have become 19, so plenty to go around.
These are currently residing in my little at home greenhouse/coldframe along with a seed tray full of leeks and lettuces, as well as my neighbours nasturtiums and cosmos which he's kindly offered me some of as payment for storing them. Unfortunately I don't think i'll have a decent bed reeady for the strawberries this year so i've decided to put 3 in a hanging basket and i'm going to pot the rest in groups of 3/4 in large pots I have laying around the allotment, keep some at the plot and give the rest to family and friends, just as soon as I can remember to bring the pots home.
Easter weekend came round and I've managed to get to the allotment 3 out of the 4 days, which meant I got plenty done, fridays job was to finish building bed 2 which I managed and get the soil turned over and as its the wrong time of year for manure at our site, as well as not having had the plot long enough to get a well established and useable compost pile going, I had to bite the bullet and buy some from B&Q, financially speaking this is a bad idea as it would cost a fortune to fill a bed of this size, hopefully what i've added will be enough for this growing season and next year i'll have a lot more muck and compost to go around.
Saturday was a planting day! I've finally planted something at my allotment, granted it's only spuds and onion sets but its something that we as a family eat a lot of, so it makes sense to grow them right. In hind sight I would probably be better off growing the spuds in the 15 or so buckets I have stacked up and using bed 1 for something else, but that can be next years plan. I used a string line to keep everything neat and planted my first earlies,which are McCains Premier First Earlies and could've gone in the ground a lot sooner but the bed wasn't ready, and my main crop of Maris Piper. I then in my wisdom decided to run a line of onion sets between the potatoes, however when I got home I decided to look in to whether this a good idea or not. Turns out even the internet isn't sure, there's a lot of conflicting advice with some sites saying it will stunt the growth of the spuds and then other sites say its beneficial to both. I posted the question on the r/allotment sub-reddit and an allotment facebook group, however no one on those platforms seemed to know either. So to play it safe and avoid losing crops when I have space, and had planned to have them elsewhere, it made sense to move them on sunday. Once they were moved to bed 2 I decided to cover them with some fleece I found in shed 2, due to some late frost due during the week and to stop any birds from helping themselves.
Sunday was a case of re-planting my onion sets in bed 2, building a new compost/manure bin and re-adjusting the 2 potted apple trees I have inherited as they were both sat 45 degree angles. I also discovered that the mystery tree near the shed is also an apple tree and need a bit of love. All 3 are now looking a bit happier and healthier, hopefully they'll prove to be fruitful later in the year. I also have to say thanks to my plot neighbour, an ex-landscaper, who helped me identify a few things growing in the leftover pots, including some currant bushes(not sure on colour until they bear fruit), 2 gooseberry bushes, a couple of raspberry canes, although we're not sure if they're summer or autumn fruiting and some bonus rhubarb which i'll keep in the pot until next year and actually have somewhere to plant it.
As I originally planned to have 2/3 or even 4 compost bins I figured it was about time I actually built another one, so I did then i turned all my current waste over in to the new one. The eventual plan is to have 4 bins, 1 for new waste, 1 for broken down(useable compost), 1 for manure and 1 for leaf mould but seeing as the horses are in the field until autumn and leaves won't be falling anytime soon i'm not in any rush to get them built. I did improve the lid for my compost bin and make a start on a 'door' but I ran out of nails and wood that isn't totally rotten.
Overall a very productive bank holiday weekend and a decent month, my enthusiasm is at an all time high and I can't wait to get more stuff planted although that will mean building bed 3 and I need to recover from finishing bed 2 first haha. I've made a friend over the weekend too, he's visited a few times in the past and spent most of the weekend perched on my apple tree watching me work.
I still need to have a general tidy up, figure out what i'm going to do with that shed and make a decision regarding my polytunnel but thats for another time. I hope you all had as productive an easter as I did and feel free to leave me comment or catch me on the social links below.