I’ve not had as much time up at the allotment as I would have liked this past week. A combination of weather and being under the weather. FIL has been enjoying helping digging, so we made more progress than I would have done alone, and by last weekend the main four planting beds – each 4m x 1m – were dug over and marked out. Three of these form the main crop rotation beds, the fourth will be devoted to fruit, mostly Autumn fruiting raspberries.
The idea is that next year I will grow brassicas in the bed that will have legumes in this year, legumes in the roots bed and roots in the brassica bed, each bed jumping right one place each year. I’d hoped to have all four paths in too, but neatening the edges of the right hand beds took a lot longer than I had anticipated. Some of the ground has not been worked at all before, and the difference was immediately obvious – it was compacted, rigid with couch grass and full of stones. I was left even more grateful that most of the plot areas I am using had been well prepared before being left for a season, and with fresh respect to those who carve out plots on virgin ground.
Today was the first truly sunny day for some time, and I couldn’t wait to get up there and try and move things along a little, despite still being a little viral.
The first task was to admire FIL’s latest digging – the beautifully turned area you can see in the front right. Next task was to lay the heavy duty weed suppressant fabric for the fourth long path. It isn’t pretty, and at some stage I would love to lay some slabs over it or at least cover it with some of the stones I keep digging up, but the main priority is to get everything workable. They are good enough, and wide enough to get a wheelbarrow down to manoeuvre compost or manure onto the beds. Once that was done, I could do the really fun bit.
I have a dozen canes of Autumn fruiting raspberry ‘Autumn Bliss’ on order, but last week MIL noticed that Aldi were selling packs of three bare rooted soft fruit plants for under £3. She chose two packs, one with Blackcurrant ‘Ben Lomond’, Raspberry ‘Tulameen’ and Gooseberry ‘Hinnomaki’, the other with Blackcurrant ‘Ben Lomond’, Redcurrant ‘Jonkheer van Tets’ and another Raspberry ‘Tulameen’. We’ve decided to grow the currants in pots in the back garden for now, but the gooseberry and raspberries are for the plot. The gooseberry will have to stay healed in for now, until the final destination at the front of the plot has been prepared, but all the fruit bed required was a little manure and some bonemeal for the planting hole, and behold, my allotment has its first plants!
Not overly exciting to look at, admittedly, and like an idiot I forgot to cut them back to ground level before I left, but suddenly it all feels a lot more real.
After lunch I headed outside again. Too tired to tackle the big jobs – clearing the pond before the frogs start to get jiggy, dividing the irises – I decided to confine myself to planting a new hellebore and sowing some seed. The hellebore was chosen by FIL at Wyevale. Not my favourite place to shop, but they are the local supplier of the organic peat free compost I use, and consequently we get regular coupons. The hellebore wasn’t quite free, but it was certainly a lot cheaper than it should have been! I planted it in the magnolia bed, near a pale yellow hellebore, in the hope that they might create beautiful children between them.
Its called ‘Tutu’, and although I usually prefer the very simple flowers I rather like the understated “ruff” at the centre, and the deep pink freckles on the the petals are delightful.
I sowed some chillies (‘Scotch Bonnet’, ‘Thai Dragon’ and ‘Numex Twilight’) and some ornamentals that have “sow in February” on the packet (Ceonolophium denudatum, Anthriscus sylvestris ‘Ravenswing’ and Leonitis leonurus ‘Staircase’), plus some more broad beans (Aquadulce Claudia), so my propagator is full again. I have more seed of each in reserve, so that if this is indeed too early and all the plants go leggy I can try again later, but I am hoping that my new light-reflecting set up will prevent this from happening. We’ll see!
All in all a good day, with some delightful things beginning to flower in the garden, and the surprise of the originally plain yellow violas now sporting purple highlights, for all the world as if someone has been at them with a paintbrush and a tin of purple paint!