There was excitement in the air the first day I was able to get into the allotments. Someone had beaten me to it, and there was already a shed and a compost bin, made out of old pallets, on one plot. Other people were there to look round, some to get digging, and others, like me, to start marking thing out. It was good to meet some of the other villagers, and it seemed as though it could be a whole other social opportunity once things got established.
My first job was to interpret the design I’d worked out on my CAD system. The rudimentary dimensions I’d been given for my half-plot were more-or-less the same, but the orientation was different. Having done this I marked out the beds with pegs and string, and put down weed-suppressing membrane on what will be the paths between (eventually to be covered with gravel).
I’ve planned six rotational beds (10’ x 4’), three perennial/permanent beds (6’ x 4’) and some fruit strips (2’ wide).
On the second day a friend helped me put up a small shed. This came with a bright orange stain, and has been called a sentry box by some that have seen it. This has given me the idea of painting a guardsman on the front of it...but there’s a lot of work to be done before that. Watch this space.
We then began digging the beds, ready to get some of the plants I’d grown at home planted and some of the seeds that can still be sown this late in the year. I edged two of the dug-over beds with timber, and will eventually do the same for the others. Last weekend we were able to plant dwarf beans, chilli plants and coriander. We also planted salad-leaf and stir-fry leaf seeds, for succession planting, and some carrot, onion, turnip and beetroot seeds. Blood, fish and bone was used as fertiliser. The timber edging has enabled me to put netting over the beds, to deter pests.
Digging has been a bit of a pain, since the ground was previously pasture, and was only turned over by machine. This has meant tedious removal of clods of grass. Some plot-holders have put down carpet and plastic to kill off grass and weeds but I wanted to get on and plant. “Little and often” will be my mantra, I think, until I can get everything up-and-running.
We’ve bought some plants from a garden centre to enable us to grow leeks, aubergines and peppers this season. Next year, I hope, I can get sowing early, and have a full year’s, home-produced crop.