Early March in the Allotment Garden
I’m racing against the clock
You can tell that spring is almost here by the sunlight. I felt it streaming in through the car window yesterday and the shadows in front of me looked different — they looked like spring. With the heat on full blast it felt like spring too and that made me both happy and panicky. We’re coming to the time of the year where seeds need sowing and plants need tending. The season of catching up on digging and garden projects is coming to a close.
The new garden pond
At least the majority of my projects are complete. The raised beds are constructed and manured, my new wood-chip paths are nearly all laid, and the garden pond is rebuilt. In the nick of time too since frogs are spawning and the entire idea behind my pond is to attract these pest-eating amphibians.
Though I spotted an adult frog a couple of weeks ago (watch video), I also now have frog spawn. With luck at least a couple of these will grow up, have more babies, and eat all the slugs. For now they’d better watch out for predators of their own. I plan on draping a net over the pond to give them a helping hand.
Hard work pays off
Over the past couple of months I’ve been getting my plot back into shape. It’s been hard work digging up the perennial weeds that settled last year, building beds, hauling in manure, and moving plants. It’s starting to look neat and tidy, especially since the addition of the wood-chip paths.
We plan on going away for another month this summer (there’s a pattern forming!) and I’m trying to think about ways to keep my plot in good shape while we’re away. The paths will help but I’m also considering other options — weed suppressants and asking friends to help themselves to produce in exchange for weeding and watering. I want to enjoy exploring Portugal without worrying about the garden.
The Wild Patch
Though my garden is laid out in a grid format, I have a little wild patch at the top. I’ve planted it in a Permaculture style with perennial herbs, flowers, and fruit bushes. There’s an American style mailbox in this area too for storing a few hand tools.
At the top of this patch is my Red Love Era Apple tree. The apples from this tree are red both inside and out and I’m really looking forward to the few I’ll let mature on it this year. The tree is from Lubera and more information on it can be found here. The photo above shows how the pink starts forming in them when they’re young but eventually all the flesh turns magenta.
Recycled Raspberry Cane Edging
Last month I came up with a nice little idea on how to use pruned raspberry canes. They’re holding up after weeks of being battered by storms so I’m now fully convinced to go ahead and create more. I’ve been taking down more raspberry canes from a vacant plot below mine and have a stack of them waiting to be woven into edging.
You can see the wattle weaving style I used in the photo below. There’s a full set of instructions and a video over here and I highly encourage you to try it out — it’s a good use of ‘waste’ material and helps to define areas. Since my allotment garden is on a slope, it also stops the compost and manure in my raspberry bed from being washed into my wood chip paths.
This year’s motto: MULCH
Last year I used straw to mulch my garden and I’m not completely against using it this year too. Putting a layer of ‘Mulch’ over your exposed soil helps keep weeds from germinating and keeps the soil moist. Both save you time in having to weed and water.
I found that straw does have one drawback though — slugs. They thrive in that area just below the straw. Though my motto this year will once again be MULCH I’m going to experiment with other materials. Namely garden compost and seaweed. Seaweed can be picked off some beaches on the Isle of Man and it’s great for the garden.
Seaweed and kelp contain trace minerals that help growing plants (hence Seaweed Feed) and the small amount of salt deters slugs. Fortunately the salt doesn’t affect the soil and farmers have been digging seaweed into their fields for years.
The Last Tidy
I have one last growing area that’s pretty much a mess. On it is soil that needs digging, lumber, a compost heap, and my pile of raspberry canes. This is my potato and brassica area this year so I need to get it cleared and ready ASAP. My spuds are fully chitted — meaning that they have sprouts growing off them — and cabbages, broccoli, and kale will need to be planted next month.
I imagine it will take me an afternoon to get it ready so by the next update expect another image of this corner to be neat and tidy. How’s that for setting myself a challenge?