Posts Tagged allotment

A year at the new pad – Timelapse

It’s been a year in the new place and I’ve gotten round to making the video from the time lapse recorder.  I’m ashamed to say after the first two or three months, the camera ran out of juice, but the important bits were captured!

It’s time to move the camera and it’s now focused purely on the vegetable beds and greenhouse now.  Hopefully we won’t see too much of the cats using the raised beds as giant litter trays…

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Last of the plants

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Today was the last day at the plot. Yes, technically we’ve “lost the plot” but not in a nasty way. We decided to give it up early – I’m proud to say it wasn’t a letter or calls from the committee that drive us to it, but due to or new house, my wife’s erratic shift work and the relocation of my job we couldn’t get down of a weekend.
We’re moving to the plot closer to home though, so the blog will continue all be it more of a gardeners blog. I still get the community as both neighbours are happy chatters and we swap tips and experience, so no loss there.
Today we moved the last of the plants, strawberries, gooseberries, rhubarb, blackcurrant, redcurrant, grape etc all were dug up and moved – along with a lot of junk.

The plot does look a bit empty and sad, especially since I strimmed it so there’s only a few overgrown raised beds left. It’s nice and ready now for a new owner to take it on, so hopefully it’ll get taken over quick!

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Allotment blues…

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It’s a sad day when you realise you can’t carry on with everything you used to. The new house really has taken it’s toll and with a job move, we’re not ideally placed to rush over the lottie and water/prune/weed etc.

As you can see, things were getting a little over the top and we needed to start setting up the plot closer to home.

Today we’ve started to move all the gear and empty the shed. Very little plant wise will be going with us. Mostly just rhubarb, strawberries and gooseberries.

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Timelapse First Shot

After setting up the camera, this is the first shot taken and the first shot on Waark.com of my new garden n’ allotment to be.

I ordered my timelapse camera from gardenature.co.uk.  It is made by Wingscapes and is a ‘projectcam’

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whatalotafuss

Blimey, how much effort was that!

You come back from a small two week stint in the USA (and it did snow whilst I was away!) and perhaps a couple more weeks later you finally make it down to your plot. Of course by this time it’s about 3 foot deep in couch grass, but none the less still your plot.

My fiance started off by doing some of the more boring work by popping down to the hire shop and getting an industrial strimmer – that made short work of all the weeds and with some suppressant membrane and bark we’ve reclaimed the plot.

I managed to rescue the strawberries and get them in the earth, de-weeded most of the boxes and finally got the greenhouse up. Helen painted the shed with a strange purpley-brown colour, stuck in some more raspberry canes and planted some salad. That’s not all -there was so much else but it’s so difficult to recount a full two days labour!

When I got home this evening I sat down (rather stiff) and had a beer. After that I veritably jumped up and er… made some butter.

It’s a very strange, but good life.

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Allotment clearing

It’s the end of the season.  Almost.  It pretty much is for us as everything is either dead or dying and we’re looking forward to next year.  Hurrah.

Twenty minutes into the hand scything I realised it was a lost cause.  Sweating profusely I went into the nearest garden shop to buy a petrol strimmer.  £150 for the cheapest ‘oooh you don’t want that sir, it’ll break immediately’.  Hmmm…

So today I hired a nice big strimmer from mark1hire (must be more environmentally friendly to share) and set about our much neglected allotment with vengeance.  After a tank of petrol I’d cleared the whole site and had a fairly large pile of debris behind me which will become in time some decent compost or so I hope. I burnt a good measure to provide me with some ash for the heap.

What amazes me is the number of small hopefully slug unfriendly creatures we now have living on the allotment.  All my neighbours have ridiculously neat allotments covered in produce and no sign of pests.  The main reason must be chemicals.  That and I think they snigger as they toss them onto my plot.  Seriously though, did anyone know slugs can grow a foot long and arm wrestle a man to the ground? No? Oh.

Our allotment is literally teeming with small lizards (which I’ve never seen in my life except this year in tenerife where the place was infested with them, and no I didn’t bring them back with me…).  I’ve also found frogs have found my pond.  Actually I first found two or three huge drowned slugs with heads sucked off.  Then I noticed the frogs – at least they’re doing their jobs, so next year I must make the pond bigger for the wonderful amphibians.

So ok, I’ve not had the best year in allotmenteering, but at least where my plot was an empty desolate patch, it is now covered in wildlife, the odd useful plant, less couch grass and has potential for next!

And if anyone is interested, whilst clearing the site I fell down a bit of uneven ground and twisted my ankle quite badly but still worked through the day and be damned with the consequences.

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Revisited

When I first took over my allotment last november I had a half plot rectangle of couch grass and mares tail.  It took a lot of motivation to be out there early december/jan putting up my boxes and filling them with manure – I wasn’t even sure it’d work though there had been plenty of people trying it and disappearing shortly after.

We dug over two small beds which have all in all not been particularly productive.  We’ve also had three manure beds doing, well, pretty much nothing (except a buckets worth of potatoes).  The 50/50 manure/earth bed has had more success with 24 strong sweetcorn plants each providing a cob of sizeable proportions.
My girlfriend on the other hand has been kept in salad for the entirety of the summer – which has been fairly annoying as I rarely saw any.  Only at one point did I break down during the summer months telling my girlfriend what do with the courgette she was cooking.  Yes, any idiot can grow them, as long as you can outsmart the slugs.

Successes:

Sweetcorn, Strawberries, potatos (a sort of success, though not as good as it could have been), courgettes, mini-cucumbers, beans, mange tout, chard, lettuce, mint, rhubarb, cabbage, leeks.

Failures:

Potatoes, onions (all mini), asparagus (didn’t see it at all), cucumbers (slugged to death), melons (slugs), carrots (carrot fly), butternut squash, basil (boy did we kill that repeatedly), chillies, peppers, ohdeargodthisissodepressing…

So, roll on 2008 and eight and see how we do then.

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Overall update

nothing green is growing through (so at least I’ve eliminated the couch grass…)

Bed 3:
Under construction between bed 1 and 2 – will be two rows of dug soil for herbs.

Raised beds – these are manure (mainly fresh) covered over with straw (in the no digg method)

Bed 1: Empty
Bed 2: Three varieties of spuds, leftover onions and a small rubarb crown.
Bed 3: Empty
Bed 4: No manure or straw – Considering turning this into a plain soil bed for my three sisters planting.

We also have four straw tyres for potatoes (yes will be inundated with spuds…)

I’ve dug a small pond (not sure if I’m allowed it) and planted with watercress and some normal weed which I’m hoping will shelter some life to entice frogs… It is close to the compost heap and I’ve heaped some branches and cardboard to make a shelter nearby. I’ve also found an old connifer log, drilled it with size 8-16mm holes for beasties such as bees, ladybirds & spiders etc.

I’ve got three oak logs I’m hoping to drill this coming week and infect with shiitake mushroom pegs which I’ll probably plant inside a rack of tyes (this’ll ensure that no animals get at them, they get shade and tyres tend to catch rainwater and produce a moist atmosphere – this is entirely new, unresearched tip from myself. We’ll see if it works!)

First set of scouts came down this weekend and helped me unload the ton of manure from the back of the fiesta – muchly appreciated. I told them about the fundraising plans I intend for them to participate in (we’re looking at growing pumpkins this year to raise money for the group)

I’m stealing my water butt I was donated at my last job which I intend to rig to water my plants and run a solar water cress plant from (see my details later in the summer about this!)

We still have over half the plot left for digging. So far we have 18m2 of planting area, which doesn’t sound much but when you’re having to shift the whole lot to remove couch grass it feels like we’re always digging!

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Allotment in planning

Finally my allotment application came through.  When I spoke to the lady on the phone she wasn’t overly informative and shocked when I asked these things I lovingly refer to as questions.  Apparently she’s confused as to how I’ve found out that she’s the woman who’s roughly in charge of allotments – after all there seems to be absolutely no published information about these allotments including an address or map.  Both of which I shall provide here, so that locals have some idea of how the place is laid out.

The allotment I’ve been provided is 5 poles.  This equates roughly to 20ftx30ft.  It is still intact – that is to say no-one has taken the topsoil off – but unfortunately entirely covered in couch grass.  Yay! = )

For those who do not know the pleasures of couch grass, it is the kind of parasite that digs itself about 8-16 inches into the topsoil and will come back time after time from a single root fragment.  The only way to rid yourself of it is to dig it out and sieve it by hand. I however, am going down the lazy man route of permaculture – namely the no-dig method!

This method employs cardboard as a weed resistant membrane – I shall be first putting down chicken crap as my fertiliser then applying a double thickness of forementioned cardboard – 6″ of horse manure (I shall be using fresh for those who are interested in these things) then a layer of mulch – straw.

I shall water and… leave.  Until I’m ready to plant!  This lazy-man attitude was brought to you by Mr Bill Mollison through the magic of Permaculture.  If it works for couch grass it’ll damn well nearly work on everything.

For those of you who get worried by these things, yes, it will raise the soil line by 12″ (or more) but that’s ok because I have a bad back and prefer to have the ground a foot closer to me.  It also means this’ll work pretty much anywhere – including concrete, though you may want to include a few shovelfuls of natural earth and a few worms to get the composting going on the lower levels!

Once composted the horse and chicken poo will provide a rich source of nitrogen for my crops, though root veggies will be difficult to grow in the first year.  The straw stops the rain from directly impacting the ground and the natural worm aeriators will keep it nice and unpacked.  So when I pull on my potatos, they’ll just pop out of the ground!  No digging required!

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