Thursday, 11 August 2011

National Allotments Week

How appropriate that this is National Allotments Week. Allotment sites are encouraged to open to the public – sorry, but there’s not too much to see on ours yet, although several sheds have appeared, and raised beds, as well as a little planting.

This is my plan showing the six rotational and three perennial beds, and planned fruit strips.
I was planning on some thornless blackberries here, but there are plenty of wild ones next to my plot, so I think raspberries and a cordon of pears, maybe minaret apples and/or standard gooseberries would be a good idea. A friend has donated some rhubarb to go in one of the perennial beds, and I’m planning some strawberries, and asparagus and both globe and Jesusalem artichokes here. I’ll continue to grow potatoes in pots at home, which have always been successful, but I’ll probably also grow a few early salad ones as part of my rotation. Here’s an update on what we’ve done this week.
There are now six beds with frames round, all dug-over, and more plants in situ. Just for this year, since it’s late in the season, we’ve bought some plants from a garden centre, as well the ones I grew at home. These include an aubergine, sweet pepper, sweet potatoes, sprouting broccoli, kale and leeks. I added lime to the brassica bed, so fingers crossed. Wood chip or bark, I think, would be more suitable for the paths between the beds, instead of gravel. It’s cheaper, and will look more in keeping.

All these framed beds now have netting over them. Cuphooks around the timber hold this in place, and allow for easy access. Where the beans, chillis, aubergine and tomatoes have grown taller, I’ve rolled the netting back to leave the bed just partially covered. Many of the seeds we planted are coming up well – salad & stir-fry crops (which will have to be thinned soon), beetroot, carrots, parsnips, turnips and onions.

Apparently rabbits are a nuisance in the adjoining (established) allotments, as I guess pigeons will be from the surrounding trees. Hopefully the netting should give some protection. We’ve also hung old CDs on string to try to deter the birds. More worrying is the deer which someone saw in the field early one morning. Although deer-proof fencing has been put around three sides, it seems the tall hedge hasn’t deterred them on the fourth. The parish council is aware of the problem, so maybe something can be done.

Also this week I received the small compost bin that I’d ordered online. Some people have made their own out of pallets, but this one was so reasonably-priced, it seemed I could use my time more profitably concentrating on the digging and the plants. Now all I have to do is remember to keep all the kitchen peelings. If anyone knows a good source of well-rotted manure around these parts, please let me know – especially if it can be bagged or delivered!

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