Sunday, 19 February 2012

Planting the fruit

Well, after all this wet weather we finally managed to get back down to the plot. It was refreshing to feel soft earth beneath our wellies rather than the solid frozen ground.

I had managed to pick up some fruit bushes from Aldi a week or so back. We had a nice mixture of yellow and red raspberry, blackcurrant, redcurrant and gooseberry canes which all needed planting. I had also picked up a Cox's orange pippin apple tree. I love apples and had initially toyed with the idea of an apple tree but dismissed it due to the space it would take up, but when I saw this for sale for not much more than a couple of quid I couldn't resist buying it.

Saturday afternoon we headed to the plot and planted the apple tree and dug a trench for the raspberry canes. This was lined with manure and all the canes were placed in a bucket of rain water to soak over night.

This morning I dropped Phillipa and Fenn off at Philly's mums house whilst I popped over to the plot for a few hours.

All of the raspberry canes were planted, and then the rest of the fruit was placed at the end of the patch around some pre-existing canes which my neighbour informs me may well be a form of loganberry.

It's not much to look at at the moment as the canes are small, but hopefully in a years time they will be more established. We may get a few fruit this year but I'm not holding out much hope.

Here you can see the apple tree and the compost bin we built a week back. I need to stake the tree, so will harvest a stake from the woods at some point soon.

As the weather was being kind I dug over a bit more earth. The ground is nice and crumbly with lots of worms and turns over pretty easily.

This week I plan on getting another good load of horse manure to add to the pile, and maybe dig over some more of the patch.

Our kind neighbour also gave us some French bean seeds that he had saved from his last years crop. It's a great atmosphere on the site, and I'm sure this will only get better as the months go on and we start to see a few more people down there.

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Snow Halts Play

We had big plans for this weekend. Well, we had planned on digging over some more of the patch at least!

In the week we found a nice lady advertising well rotted horse manure local to us, so I phoned her up and arranged to go and pick some up. We made a packed lunch for the horses in return for some bags of brown gold and set off in the car. Well the mound of horse muck was rather large, and the owner said it has been there for at least 4 years. Fresh stuff was on the top so I dug deep whilst Philly held the bags open for me to fill. We filled the boot, and the horses were given some fruit. We have been told that we can go back when we want which is great!

The manure, although well rotted, is rather wet at the moment, so I wanted to build another compost bin on the plot so that we could get it mixed with some newspaper and straw to try and dry it out a bit before we add it to the plot. It's a nice rich dark brown colour and full of worms so it looks like good stuff.

I then went out the following evening to see if I could pick up some old wooden pallets. My luck was in, and I delivered 5 to the plot Saturday morning.

After lunch, Fenn was dropped off at his Granma's house and Philly and I trundled off to the plot to build the new compost bin.
The ground was frozen solid, and as a result we were the only people mad enough to be at the site. We nailed together four of the pallets in a square and emptied the 10 bags of horsey doo doo's into the new bin. This was well mixed in with some straw and a shredded newspaper. The final pallet which had a solid rather than a slotted base was placed on top to aid heat retention.

Within the hour we were back at Granma's house to pick up the boy, and the rest of the weekend has been spent dreaming about vegetables and sheds rather than doing any work.

I have however managed to put together a rough plan of how I want to lay out the allotment, with a five year easy crop rotation system.

Fruit is to the left hand side of the plot; where I would also like to site a shed.

The first bed will be brassicas, then beans and peas, then potatoes, then onions and root crops in the final bed.

This is only a rough plan, and we doubt that the plot will look anything like as smart as this, but it should give us good use of the space. Suddenly what looked like a huge plot now doesn't look quite so big!

Oh and the spuds are chitting in the attic room ready to be planted later this month or early next.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Revival - New Allotment

Well haven’t we been slack? Last post in 2009!

A lot has changed since then. We’ve got married and have a little boy called Fenn for a start, and then last week, after a three and a half year wait we had a phone call letting us know that we had a half plot at the local allotment. To say this made us happy would be an understatement.

Saturday morning straight after Fenn’s swimming lesson we headed over to the allotments to meet Brian who was to show us around, and more importantly our new plot of land.Well we had struck gold. You hear of these horror stories of people inheriting a jungle of brambles, and shoulder high weeds when they take on an allotment. Well the gardening gods were shining on us, our plot was used up until the autumn, and pretty much just needs digging and some good compost added before we can start growing some goodies.

We have been itching to get our hands on an allotment for years now, and although the small patch of garden we had turned over to a veggie patch was great, it never really allowed us to grow more than a few spuds, courgettes and beans. We were hankering for more space, and finally we have it!

As we were marvelling at the newly acquired plot, and dreaming of fresh greens, chunky soups and eating fruit straight from the bush, the spirit of the allotment sprung into life. We met one of our neighbours, a veteran to the scene having worked his ground for the last 30 years. “A fool learns from his mistakes, a wise man learns from other people’s mistakes” he said, “And I’ve made a few, so if there is anything you want to know just ask”, and that seemed to be the general spirit of the place. People were very friendly, and inviting to this new couple clutching a young baby, and I can see that the socialising will be as much a part of allotment life as the gardening will be.

We retuned the following day with our welly boots and forks after dropping Fenn off at his Granma’s house and digging commenced. Our plot roughly measured 60 by 20 feet and needed turning over and the grass and weeds removed. It gave us a good chance to take a look at what we really had inherited. There are three rhubarb plants that have been left behind which is superb as the one we had in the garden didn’t survive the snow of last year. There are what look like some fruit canes at one end of the plot, so hopefully one of our neighbours will be able to identify them.We also have a couple of homemade compost bins that have been made from wooden pallets. The compost in them is not actually compost yet, so we will have to see if we can get our hands on a lot of well-rotted horse manure over the next couple of weeks.

We managed to turn over about a third of the plot in a couple of hours. It was very quiet on the allotment today with just a few people showing their faces, mainly to harvest some winter vegetables before getting in their cars and going home. Hopefully that will be us next year!

We promise to update again soon!

Matt, Philly and Fenn