I’ve not blogged about the allotment for a while. Its not that I haven’t been up there, its just that I’ve mostly been weeding and watering. Last week I headed up full of good intentions. I was going to sow lots of stuff, and weeds lots of beds. Instead, I got chatting. First to the friend who inherited a bed 100% devoted to fruit, most of it raspberries, which she hates. Having wandered around my plot discussing annual weeds and how every plot needs flowers, we went to hers, which has been transformed. It turns out that her FIL is a farmer, and when he came up for a few days he announced that rather than sticking his feet up he would much rather work down at the allotment, please. He worked miracles, starting at 0630 each morning he dug. My friend then picked out all the weeds he exposed, and actually got to plant some veg. She celebrated by planting a lovely little border of lavendar outside the door to the shed.
Wandering back to my plot to get stuck in, I got chatting to someone who I thought was the owner of half the plot next door, but turned out to be his brother. Who didn’t fancy going off walking, or just lazing around, and had instead asked if he could do some digging and weeding at the allotment while his brother went to work. Spot the theme? What I had spotted was this:
The previous plot owners had covered the beds with black plastic held down with chunks of broken paving. Chatting to the brother – later confirmed by the owner of the other half of the plot – it turns out that they have no interest in using the broken paving, and had just piled it up to get rid of later. I am not the only one to have had my eye on this, but suddenly weeding and sowing became less interesting. Instead I found myself remembering how bad I am in the spatial awareness department as I attempted to cover the path that I had no membrane left for with what can only be described as Crazy Paving:
I should have stopped at that point, it was hot, I was tired, but there was all this stone, and actually trying to piece together a moderately stable path was rather fun. So I left an hour later, with hands that could double as sandpaper, no weeding or sowing done, but with two more paths covered in stone. And therefore more pegs recovered for holding down netting etc..
Other things got in the way for a couple of days, and all I managed was the watering and a little guilt-ridden hacking at the dandelions. But I do plant stuff too, honest, and having worked out that there was an interesting gap at the end of one of the raspberry beds, I carted a load of Broad Bean ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ plants up to the plot along with two comfrey plants and some lettuce (‘Can Can’ – not entirely chosen for the name, but…).
The comfrey went in alongside the log pile. I won’t be able to cut much – if at all – this year, but the plan is to use the leaves to mulch the raspberries and/or make plant feed. The lettuce got planted in the brassica tunnel, with a sprinkling of organic slug pellets around them. I don’t usually use slug pellets, organic or otherwise, but they are a pest up at the site, and I reasoned that using them under the mesh of the tunnel would prevent them from causing any trouble to birds or hedgehogs. They are approved by the organic veg growers association, whatever that is, so we’ll see…
It felt good to leave the plot having actually planted something, and I sowed some Sugar Snap Peas (‘Sugar Ann’) for good measure. I am hoping that the ‘Claudia’ broad beans do as well as the ‘Express’ plants are, because we all love broad beans, particularly when small and sweet. I’m not sure how soon to nip the tops off – any tips gratefully received! Do I wait until the first pods set? No sign of the dreaded aphids yet though.
Today I got up there again, and having been promised some rain tonight, decided to plant out more lettuce (Lollo Rosso and Sucrine) and some Swiss Chard (‘Bright Lights’) and sow some onions (‘Guardsman’). There was also lots of the inevitable weeding to do, so I was thoroughly cheered to see TNG turn up and set to building another path. I still only have a small handful of parsnip seedlings showing, and have only harvested radishes and Mibuna so far, but things are growing. There are distinctly carrot-like plumes of foliage, the cabbages are bulking up beautifully, and the potatoes appearing to be doing what potoatoes do. So I shall ignore the fact that the weeds are doing better than the sweet peas, which are being munched, and celebrate leaving the plot looking better than I found it.
Oh, and I ate the first ripe strawberry this morning when I was opening up the greenhouse. I think I owe the next one to TNG…