The Allotment in March
January and February have fled by and now we’re at the beginning of Spring. I feel a bit pressured by time because allotment rents are due and I need to transplant more plants from my first plot to my second one before I give it up. I decided finally that one plot is more than enough for me so am saying goodbye to the land I’ve been working on for the past five years. I suppose I should feel a little sad but actually I’m more relieved. Having both plots last year with less time than ever put a lot of stress on me.
The reason I decided to move was that my first plot was at the bottom of a relatively steep hill which made hauling things to and from the allotment difficult. It also bordered some really weedy land and seeds kept flying into my beds. The last challenge was drainage; since a natural spring is just above it, every winter some of the plot becomes waterlogged. I suspect that’s why my row of raspberries failed.
Aside from all of the hard work in clearing the land I do have to say that I love having the fresh start. I can plan out my beds differently and the plot is a lot more social since everyone seems to walk by on their way to their own garden. Sadly my friend Tony who would have been beside me has had to give up his plot this year due to health issues. It’s hard work trying to garden while struggling with Arthritis.
As the allotment Secretary I’m still trying to find a few more new plotholders to take up land. There are a few plots currently available that are sized 20X30 foot – the perfect size really.
While I’m still peeling back the plastic and constructing raised beds I’ve also started planting crops. Each year I grow garlic in modules at home and then put them in the ground in early spring. The conventional way of planting them is into their final places in late Autumn or winter – traditionally on the shortest day of the year. Our site is exposed though and prone to flooding so it’s a safer bet to grow them in a more sheltered place at first.
All of the soft-fruit on my lower plot has needed to be transplanted too. That’s five blueberry bushes, two red currants, a red gooseberry, a Jostaberry, and still left to bring up are the thornless blackberries and strawberries. I’m situating the soft-fruit all along the outer edge of my plot and mulching them generously to keep down weeds. Right now I’m using hay that a rabbit owner left at our site last week. I’ll be using manure, mushroom compost, and seaweed as mulch this year too.
Another Allium that I have on my new plot is my favourite of the bunch – Welsh Onions. I transplanted two clumps from my original plot and they’re coming up strong and green. I’ve pretty much given up on growing green onions since I don’t need to with these. They come up every year, crop continuously from March until October, and can be used the same as chives or green onions. No fuss and convenient is what I like!
Though about a third of my plot is still covered by black plastic, which helps suppress weeds, it is coming along with plants growing and beds taking form. I’ve also recorded my very first video blog about my allotment to better show you what it all looks like – watch the video on youtube here. Don’t forget to subscribe to my channel while you’re there!
Here’s some more stories from my plot. I post regular updates on my Facebook page so follow me there for more regular news.
Way back in 2010 I grew four Rhubarb plants from seed. They’re the Victoria variety and over the years I’ve whittled down the four to just two. I don’t think I need another rhubarb plant at my new plot – there’s one already there – but I feel reluctant to just give up my hard work on the originals so easily. I need to divide this clump anyway so I’ll take a small part for my plot and give the rest of the crown away to other gardeners.
While pulling back some plastic yesterday I discovered six or seven giant New Zealand Flatworms. We’re aware they’re at our site but I haven’t seen any in a long time. They’re virtually indestructible so you need to either incinerate them or pop them into a bucket of salt. It’s important that you pick them off manually because there’s no ground treatment for them and this invasive foreign species decimates earthworm populations. More info on them here.
A ‘Pest’ that I’m a little more fond of is the Field Mouse and I found this guy in the grass on my lower plot. He crept along for about a foot before he jumped out and virtually bounced his way into the field below. Mice can be a nuisance at allotment gardens but it’s their cousin the rat that I’m not happy with. They’re HUGE and will eat anything on your plot down to plastic.
Maybe you can help me with this one. I discovered the above plants and seeds on my top plot and have no idea what they are. The dark and textured seeds were inside the papery seed casing which is round-ish and almost faceted. I’ve dug these into the soil but am suspicious that they might be some sort of a weed.
I’ve made another big leap with introducing an actual tree onto my plot! Lubera sent me a ‘Red Love’ apple tree as a gift two years ago and it’s been growing in a container at home. Now it’s in my allotment, staked so that the wind won’t blow it down. This variety produces sweet dessert apples that are red both outside and inside. The buds are beginning to swell too so I hope to get a couple of fruit this year.