New allotment – Day 1

Worked myself into a right state yesterday with the frustration of not being able to get onto the plot. Spent most of the day stomping around angrily cursing about the allotment company secretary not having called me back to arrange a time to meet so he could show me around. Realised during the evening that I was behaving like a small child, needed to relax a bit and to just get on with other stuff until the call came.

Woke up this morning planning to sort one or the other of my cars out, both of which need little things doing in preparation for the MOT. Shortly after 9, the phone rang and it proved to be the call.

11.30am it was off the plot, armed with a flask, packed lunch, couple of bananas and other sustenance to keep me going as I tackled the task of planning the way forward.

Unsurprisingly, the company secretary turned out to be a thoroughly decent bloke who's obviously been doing what he does long enough to know the score when it comes to dealing with new plot holders. He was showing a couple of other new members their plots at the same time, so I did the wise thing, said very little and listened a lot in the hope of picking up as much useful information as possible. What information I did manage to glean was mixed. On the up side, we have water on site in the shape of a hand pumped well, which is a major bonus, as I had understood that there was no supply on site. On the down side, the site has issues with rabbits (no surprise there, given that the village periphery teems with them) and also Muntjac. The whole site has recently been fenced in. Theft of crops is a non issue, but sheds occasionally attract untoward attention, so keeping anything of value in them isn't wise.

Formalities out of the way, I set about getting started. First job, take photos of the plot - the whole of which has been ploughed, so is in a reasonably good state, aside of a few ploughing furrows and the inevitable first signs of weeds. I had my Nikon in my bag so I got it out, switched it on and.... nothing. Checked the battery - not in the camera. Sigh. I always take it everywhere with me and always check the battery and SD card are in place before leaving home, but obviously wasn't paying attention this morning and overlooked it for the first time.

Frustrated at my own stupidity, I broke out the fork and started turning some earth, just to get a bit of a feel for its condition. It's not bad, but varies a lot down the length of the plot. The plot itself ramps up quite heavily at one end. The higher end seems as though the organic content may be washing out of it. The lower end isn't bad at all - but could definitely still do with more organic matter to boost it a bit.

One other issue is a huge ploughing furrow down the centre of the plot. As the day progressed, I came to the conclusion that leaving it in place and treating it as a path was probably the wisest move. This means the beds either side are raised in relation to it. I'm slightly concerned that it might act like a dyke, draining moisture from the beds but, for now, I'm going to leave it in place. If it's a mistake, I'll pile a tonne or three of organic matter into it for next season.

Other things I've learnt:

  • I need a bigger flask!
  • Digging is hard work, and my spine still hasn't fully recovered from the Shingles I had 18 months ago.
  • I need a wheel barrow.
  • I need something to sit on. I have to take regular breaks and sitting on the ground today I got a damp backside.
  • It's a huge plot but, based on today's progress, about 10 days probably ought to see it dug over for the first time.

I've mentally shunned the idea of crop rotation until now but, having seen the plot, it's obvious that I need to start thinking about this. I've split the plot into 4 with marker sticks and logic dictates that all I really need to do is work a rotation plan out for the 4 quarters.

I've also decided the location for a shed, polytunnel, compost heap and Comfrey patch - although the latter I think I've probably been a bit conservative with the size of! Once I'd laid these out, I set about digging and preparing a couple of beds. Not huge - probably about 2 metres deep by the width of the plot (I'd guess about 12 metres). I'd also got a big bag of mixed green, cardboard and food waste from home with some compost mixed in. I dug a trench and filled it with all of this in the same way you'd do with a bean trench. I'm going to use it to plant out the Comfrey I've been starting off at home. I've not really got any way to harden this off, so I'll probably plant half of it at the end of the week, then keep the rest at home in case the frost kills the planted stuff off.

Beside the position for the shed I prepped a strip for a wild bird and butterfly mix of native wild flowers and sowed some seed. Hopefully being natives, they'll get off to a good start when they feel like it. If not, I've got a couple of trays growing here at home. Opposite them, I've prepped a bed for herbs.

Having got a nice strip of bed prepared, I bit the bullet and stuck some early peas in. The frost will probably get to them, but the seed only cost me 50p from Wilkos, so I thought I'd give it a go anyway. Couldn't finish the day without having planted something and my slightly dodgy metabolism means I have to avoid carbs, so growing potatoes seemed pretty pointless.

The way I've started out, I'm working from the low point up to the higher level. At the end of the plot at the high end, the weeds are starting to set in, so I dug and slightly banked up a strip. then sowed some Mustard a) to give me some green matter to start composting as soon as possible and b) to try and form a bit of a weed break. Not sure if it'll germinate OK, but I picked it up dirt cheap, so scattered a load around in the hope that enough will avoid the attention of pigeons, etc long enough to get established.

Later in the day, I realised that I had my phone with me, which has a half decent camera, so grabbed a shot of the plot in its virgin state.

Allotment, Day 1

My plot stretches from the right hand stick in the foreground to the spade and fork at the edge of the cultivated section. I tend to avoid this end of the plot as, looking down the slope, it looks huge. For some reason it looks far more manageable looking the other way!

Right, off to start ordering some bits. I've got 4 days off starting Thursday, so plan to have a huge attack on the plot and try and get it well on the way to prepared for the growing season.

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March 14, 2010 · admin · No Comments
Tags: , ,  · Posted in: General, Seeds, Vegetables, Wildlife

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