For years allotments were out of favour. No-one wanted them, and patches of mud with a shed at one end and weeds everywhere else went to waste. Then suddenly gardening became the new rock and roll, and everyone who didn't want to dig up their lawn wanted their own council-run patch of mud. The waiting lists grew faster than the cabbages. Now, after more than three years on a waiting list, Neil Shaw has been given his own patch of green and pleasant land.

Wednesday, 15 April 2009

Planting and harvesting

All the potatoes are finally in! It was a hard task, digging through the soil for a fourth time to get out as many of the couch grass roots as possible before replacing them with roots of our own.

There are four rows, two of Lady Balfour and two of salads, so we'll give it a few weeks and see what comes up. No doubt lots of grass, but hopefully we'll be able to keep on top of it.

Now we can move on to the patches either side of the potatoes, which are less clogged, and start getting some seeds in.

The one below will be given over to root veg - parsnips, swedes and carrots. The patch above (where the brambles were) will be mostly given over to a compost bin and green house.

Last night also saw us enjoying the fruit of (other people's) work on the allotment. We had a chicken and leek pie with a leek donated by allotment representative Christine, followed by a rhubard crumble with rhubarb someone else planted on our plot several years ago.

A taste of things to come, hopefully.

Monday, 6 April 2009

Trench warfare

Four months in to our allotment project and we finally managed to get something into the ground.
To be fair, a couple of weeks back we did bury a gooseberry and a raspberry plant, but digging a small hole and dropping in a pot hardly counts.
On Saturday we got serious. Now the ground is clear we are able to actually see the mud, and dig it up.
After clearing away the grass that had started to grow back, I dug a trench. I tried to follow the instructions on the (Endsleigh-bought) pack of organic seed potatoes. 10cm deep, 35cm apart in the trench, each row 75cm apart.
But somehow I seem to have got a little enthusiastic. Climbing out of the first trench was like re-enacting the final scene from Blackadder Goes Forth.
No matter, I put the seed potatoes in their place, and moved on to trench two - using the soil I dug out of that to fill in trench one.
The soil was hard and heavy, full of roots and weeds so it was slow going but we made a family day of it.
The young ones played in a tent further down the plot while the other half and I did the hoeing, digging and burying. Then we all took a turn at the watering.
Before we knew it it was 6pm and we had to head for home, but we aim to get back as soon as possible to get the last two trenches in.
Saturday also saw me wield a machete to hack away the very last of the brambles. That now clears enough room to throw together the pallets and make a compost bin.
And last week we took delivery of a second-hand greenhouse. I say greenhouse, right now it is a pile of indecipherable glass and metal - but hopefully we'll put it together in the next few days.
After that, we have enough seeds to start a second (organic vegetable based) Eden Project and this is the time to get them in the ground.
On the plus side, the fruit trees are all in blossom and the gooseberry we planted seems to be sprouting plenty of green shoots - so fingers crossed for a crop of something later in the year.