Wednesday, 28 March 2012

In go the tatty's

Today was a monumental day for us on the allotment. Today we put our first vegetables into the ground.
I spent just over two painstaking hours turning over the ground for the tatty's. The area sectioned off for them allowed for 4 rows to be planted.

The two right hand rows were planted with Desiree a main crop potato, the next row with Arran a first early, and the left hand row with Charlotte a salad variety. We only had 10 Charlotte seed potatoes, and each row had approximately 15 tubers, so the far end of the left had row was planted with more Arran tubers.

They have been fed with an organic pellet and some fish, blood and bone meal and covered in around 10cm of earth. To the left of each row is the remaining earth that will be used to earth up the plants as they grow

The runner bean frame has also now been completed, with a bottom brace at each side. All that is needed now is for string to be run for the plants to climb up, and finally to plant the beans. That's a month off yet though, but I'm glad its ready.

Next on the agenda is to sort out the marked area to the right of the tatty's for the onions to go in.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Digging the bean trench

Spring has well and truly arrived here in Kent, bringing a healthy dose of sunshine along with it, it's glorious down on the allotment. However the hose pipe ban is to be enforced as of the 5th of April so we have until then to fill the new water butts that I took delivery of last week. (Thanks to Serena and Marcus from The Kent Cider Company who make awesome cider by the way) for helping me out with a couple of nice cheap barrels :)

Today we again took advantage of the free babysitting service in the guise of Phillipa's mum. Fenn was dropped off with a bag of food and toys, and the pushchair so they could go out for a walk and we headed off to the plot for a couple of hours.

Phillipa got on with more digging whilst I marked the plot out into five sections for our crop rotation plan. When I was happy that I had spaced it out evenly it was time to erect the bean frame and dig the trench.
I had harvested some local Hazel a few weeks back and the poles were lashed together to make a frame for the beans to grow. I need at least four more poles to make another two upright sections in the middle of the frame to make it more sturdy. When covered in beans it will be like a large sail and the last thing I want is for our plot to sail off into the distance!

Once the frame was up I went about digging a trench. This was then filled with bags of vegetable peelings we had collected from home over the past couple of weeks. I also shovelled in a good few spadefuls of well rotted horse manure.

The trench was then filled back in again, the waste will compost away ready for when we plant the beans. I will be saving bags of peelings again to do exactly the same for a pumpkin plant later on in the year.

After this it was time to head back to pick Fenn up from his Granma's house, and for us all to have some lunch.

We plan on getting back up the plot a couple more times over the weekend to hopefully get some onions and early potatoes planted.

Also, both the cabbage and brussel sprouts seeds have germinated. Exciting :)

Monday, 12 March 2012

Sowing the first seeds

The problem with having a new allotment and bags of enthusiasm is that there are never enough hours in the day to accomplish all the wacky ideas that go on in my head.

I want our plot to be as natural as possible, but at the same time as cheap or as free as possible. I have so far recycled old pallets to make compost bins and raised beds. I have also thinned out some local hazel branches to make my runner bean frame. All that is needed now is the time to dig the rest of the plot over, and to clear the weeds that have grown on the part that we have already dug over. It then all needs levelling out before planting can commence.

In the meantime it's time to start sowing some seeds. Brassica's mainly, but also some tomatoes.

Brassicas don't like heat to germinate but don't like to be frozen either. Too much heat will make them leggy and you will end up with sub standard plants that you are likely to have issues with later on. Instead they just need to be sheltered, and kept out of the frost. Mine are in propagators in the shed at the moment.

I have sown
Leeks - Musselburgh
Cabbage - Greyhound
Sprouts - Green marble

I have also sown 12 seeds of 4 varieties of tomato. These however need to be warm to germinate so are coming to work with me tomorrow to take advantage of the big sunny windowsill behind me.

The tomatoes I have sown are
Money Maker
Gardeners Delight

With all of the seeds sown in propagators you need to keep an eye on them and ensure that you remove the lids as soon as the seeds start to germinate.

Exciting isn't it?

Sunday, 11 March 2012

Adding the raised beds

How beautiful was it outside today? We haven't been to the plot for a short while, but boy did we pick the right day to spend some time on the site. The sun was shining, birds singing and the worms a wiggling.

The mission for today was to build two raised beds for our strawberries. These following our ethos for the plot were made from recycled materials. More pallets to be exact.
Both raised beds are 6' x 4.5' and each house 12 strawberry plants.

I constructed the beds whilst Philly sieved earth! We have three compost bins on the plot. Two that we inherited and one that we made. One of the original bins is full of soil and stones and other old gubbins as Philly discovered. This is a waste of composting space, but at the same time provided a good supply of soil to raise the soil level in the new beds.
The beds were dug over and the weeds removed, and then the wonderfully sieved soil and some fish, blood and bone fertiliser added. it was then smoothed over and levelled out.

We have three varieties of strawberries. Earlys called Elvira, a mid crop called Korona and a late crop called Florence. One bed has the first and half the mid crop and the second bed has the other half of the mid crop and the late crop.

That's the fruit end of the plot now sorted. We have strawberries, raspberries (Tulameen), yellow raspberries (all Gold), gooseberries (Hinnomaki), blackcurrant (Ben Lomand) and redcurrant (Jonkheer Van Tets) planted. We also have a Cox's orange pippin apple tree. I have a James Grieve apple tree in a large pot in the garden that I think I am going to move to the site also.

Now that the evenings are getting longer we are hopefully going to be able to spend a little time on site after work. This will allow us to start clearing some more ground, and start planting our first vegetable crops.