I spent a while Googling to see how other people create their allotment plans. A lot of people had made really beautiful illustrations with drawings of each veg but these seem to serve more as an artwork than a practical plan which you can change as things change on the plot. I’d drawn a plan in my notebook (you can see it in this previous post) which didn’t look very inspiring and was also hard to amend as plans changed.
I decided to give Excel a try and here’s my current plan. It’s pretty satisfying making the different coloured sections for the different crops:
This only shows half my plot – I’ve left out the side which is dominated by the corrugated metal container of rubbish and felled trees.
The raised bed on the far right (close up of it from my plan is below) is the one I’ve done the most planting in so far and it already has garlic, beetroot, radishes, rainbow chard and carrots sown in it.I’ve sown the nasturtiums too but there’s no sign of them popping up so far.
My plan still seems to change every time I visit the plot though. Today I decided that the mange tout should move to the bottom end where I’ve currently planned parsnips so I’ll change that at some point.
Of course, the start of March signals seed-sowing time. It’s still a bit chilly here so I’ve started a few seeds inside and plan to move them out into the zip-up greenhouse before transferring to the plot a bit later in the spring.
Planted so far are tumbling and vine tomatoes, mangetout and various chillis. The mangetout were by far the quickest to appear, poking through the soil within five days or so. I sowed both red and yellow tumbling tomatoes but only one of the yellow seeds germinated. You only get 15 in a pack and 1/15 seems like a bit of a rubbish result but never mind. I also have the chocolate tomatoes from the Real Seed Catalogue too so fingers crossed they’ll do better.
This morning I spotted several exciting new developments on the allotment. First up, the asparagus which has started poking through the weeds. I knew there was an asparagus bed in one of the raised beds, but I didn’t know there was more on the left hand side of the plot. I did tread on one of the spears so I’m hoping it’ll recover.
My first crocus has also appeared! I planted these way back in November so it seems like they’ve taken ages. Daffodils and anenomes yet to appear.
We’re having sausage and mash tonight so I dug up loads of horseradish. It was a bit rainy and all the other plotholders had disappeared into their sheds so there was no one around to offer some to. It’s in danger of taking over the bottom end of the plot so I dug up more than we need just to try and get rid of some of it. Here’s the two pieces when I dig them up and then one of them in the kitchen sink so you can see what a monster it is.
home grown horseradish
home grown horseradish
It’s four months since I took over plot 45 and here’s how it’s changed. The first photo was day 1, the second was two months in and the third was lunch time today.
There’s still endless black bags full of plastic, broken glass old tools and other weird finds, a ridiculous amount of weeds and tree branches to burn, plus the re-emergence of weeds as the weather warms up, but I think it looks like we’re making progress.
Today I put down some weed-supressing fabric to see if it has any effect keeping the mare’s tail and bindweed at bay. One useful find amongst the debris was a couple of metal tent pegs that I anchored it with, along with some bricks and bits of paving slab.
Can you see in the pictures the gradual clearing of stuff from the giant metal boat-shaped pit of doom? I pulled about 50 canes out of it today along with a small stool and lots more dried wood and bindweed so fingers crossed for some dry weather and another bonfire at the weekend.
The sun came out today so I sped down to the plot with my helper.
I didn’t intend to stay long but ended up getting quite a bit done. The main thing was that I marked out the edges of some of the beds with some of the many bricks I’ve found strewn around. The beds had been kind of overflowing onto the path and making things look even messier than they already are, so I scraped the soil off the paths, dug down a bit at the edges and sunk bricks in.
I also found a rhubarb sprout in amongst the piles of rubbish on the left of the plot so I popped it into the main bed. That should see us sorted for maybe a crumble between two later this year.
There were signs of Spring everywhere: buds appearing, blossom on my neighbour’s plot and lots of new horse’s tail and bindweed appearing. There was also a very relaxed black cat napping behind my fence.
In terms of planting, I put in a couple more broad beans, sowed some of the ‘mystery mix’ radishes my sister bought me from The Real Seed Catalogue, and sowed nasturium seeds in the old oil drum that’s sunk into the ground. I also found this cheery duck under a fallen tree.
These worms were wriggling around when I moved a paving stone which hopefully will eventually form part of some stepping stones across the big bed.
Next on the list is to think about how we handle the emerging horse’s tail and bindweed. The horse’s tail will definitely need spraying with weedkiller but that means I can’t plant anything until after it’s dealt with and it seems to be everywhere. I know my seed stash will keep until next year but it’s very sad to think we might not actually be able to grow much at all for another year. Fingers crossed that the garlic and beans we’ve sown already can hold their own against the weed invasion.
As the weather’s warming up, the newly exposed and dug over beds at the plot are getting a covering of little weeds, which I expected.
I’ve also been looking out for the return of the bindweed and horse’s tail so today I did an experimental dig into the top raised bed and was unsurprised to discover lots of new bindweed roots. I was quite shocked at the amount of them though, just a month or so after we last dug everything out of that bed. Here’s the ones I pulled out in a few minutes today.
I’d been considering moving my broad bean seedlings from where I planted them to one of the bigger main beds so after the bindweed discovery I thought I’d better have a root around in there too, to see how bad things were.
Not so much bindweed in this one, but I did find lots of these black roots with tiny green shoots. I don’t think they’re horse’s tail as the roots didn’t seem to be deep enough and they were easy to pull up. So what are they? Any ideas?
And final mystery plant / weed of the day – does anyone know what these are?
They’re in a spot that wasn’t as vigorously dug over as the rest as it’s right beside the largest bramble bush in the world (look at its huge base!). I thought they were weeds so pulled a couple up but then wondered whether they might turn out to be something nice. Unlikely I know, but maybe it’s worth waiting a bit to see what they do next.
It suddenly feels like Spring is nearly here this weekend, and obviously that means more time at the allotment – yay!
I dragged my slightly unwilling allotment helper along and we got loads more done than I would have done on my own. I think he enjoyed his first allotment bonfire experience too.
I was keen to check up on my garlic and broad beans. The beans and most of the garlic were planted before Christmas, with a few more garlic cloves (Provence Wight) planted in January. The ones planted later are pretty much the same size as those planted earlier. I’ve never grown garlic before so I don’t have anything to compare it to but I think they’re looking pretty good.
The broad beans (Aquadulce Claudia) are doing ok as well, except for one which I think must have been eaten by slugs, hence the protective layer of straw that’s now around them, hopefully protecting them from any further slug-attack.
Now it’s warmer there are more and more plot holders appearing and I’ll have to get used to not having the whole place to myself any more. The plus side is that we met a lovely man today who was really encouraging about the transformation in our plot since we took it on in November which was a nice reminder that we have got loads done in our first three months as allotmenteers.