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, 20 April 2011

They're ba-ack

We had to come back. The onions have run out.

To be fair, there is still stockpile of jars in the cupboard filled with apple chutney and bramble jam - and the freezer is half full of frozen soft fruit - but in the interests of a diverse diet it's definitely time to get growing again.

We've been back on the plot since the start of April having left the site to overwinter (by which I mean the weather outside was frightful, and the fire is so delightful).

Fortunately we covered the plot with weed matting over the winter, and all the work we've put in over the last few year has made most of the site manageable, so it has taken just a couple of weeks to get it back up and running.

The top plot (last year's onions) is now weeded, dug over and replanted with garlic, courgettes, herbs, salad and nasturtiums (to ward off pests and attract bees) with room left for swede.

The strip below that has been out of action since we started thanks to someone burying half a battleship in the soil.

It took a while but I managed to dig out seven huge rusted iron sheets, dig between the roots of the blackbery bushes and clear that stretch - ready for leeks and strawberries. We've also added a couple more fruit bushes up there.

Next down the patch unused last year is cleared, dug over and filled with potatoes.

Below that a whole bed cleared, dug and filled with more than 400 onion sets.

Below that another bed cleared. Carrots and parsnips in. Space cleared for a polytunnel. This patch will also be home to brassicas and sweetcorn.

Next plot down - mostly untouched. This is where we unsuccesfully tried to grow butternut squash last year - the red ant plot.

At the end of this stretch is a rhubarb patch which has been cleared of weeds but the rest of it is yet to be tackled. A couple of days hard digging still to come. Then hopefully we'll get sqush in there again.

And finally the fruit 'cage'. This year we hope to invest in a cordless drill and get an actual cage in there, as well as some protection for the brassicas currently growing in a small greenhouse in our back garden.

So a busy few weeks - and many more to come - but it looks like the whole site is finally, almost, up and running!

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