Wednesday, 4 April 2007

First crops planted!

Having considered the lengths of time veg need to stay in the soil, I have redesigned the plot a little (no use wanting to sow onions and carrots in March in the patch April/May cabbages are still growing in). I have shuffled things a bit so the areas I need to sow now are those already dug (or nearly dug), and I have moved the pond; I originally put it in the middle hoping to centre the frog population there, but I've since discovered there is another pond on a plot very close by, so I've moved mine further away from it. Now hopefully my whole plot will be a route between the two ponds, with a slug-feast on the way! So the plan now looks like this:

Spent a few more hours digging yesterday with Dad (he's a very fast and businesslike digger, unlike Jess and Eddie who stop to make friends with every earthworm!) and finished the salad patch, which we'll be able to plant pretty soon. Starting so late in the year, I haven't had the time or the resources to manure properly but I dug in some 'Orgro' to enrich the soil a bit (concentrated organic manure - I used to use it in pots in the garden so I thought I may as well make use of it here too). The whole bag was too heavy to carry to the allotment on my own, so I filled a bucket and brought that. I must have looked - and smelled - pretty funny walking through town with a bucket of manure!

Today I had plans to build a second compost bin, finish digging the potato patch, plant all my onions, carrots, parsnips, potatoes and asparagus, and start digging the pond. Far too much, it turns out, for one day!
I marked out the shape of the pond and stuck canes in the ground to show the postions of the 'minarette' fruit trees I hope to buy next winter. I was afraid it would feel much too cramped but looking at it all set out I think it will work; it'll be cosy, not cramped!
While Eddie carried on digging I planted the asparagus, which arrived this morning to great excitement!
I must have read a dozen articles on how to plant and care for asparagus, but had no idea what an asparagus crown actually looked like until I opened that package, and I have to be honest; I couldn't figure out which way up the things were supposed to go! (I should have put a picture here of course, but in the excitement I forgot to take any.) After much umm-ing and ah-ing, planting one and digging it up again, replanting it, leaving the others out in the sun for probably far too long, and so on and so on, they finally got buried. I think I got it right in the end, but there's a fair amount of hoping-for-the-best going on! I won't worry too much; I read about one man who just chucks them in a hole and covers them up (none of this spreading the roots out evenly) and someone who actually recommends planting them upside down!
Next priority was the compost bin; our first one is full to overflowing now with weeds. But all our attempts to get hold of some more pallets were thwarted, wasting half the afternoon for nothing.
As the sun began to set I marked out the onion patch, dug in some 'Orgro', and planted seven rows of onions, with space for other veg in-between. If every plant is successful, this 8x9ft plot will yield 112 white onions, 48 red onions, 48 leeks, 48 parsnips and 64 or more carrots!
Darkness fell and the potato patch still wasn't ready, so our spuds will have to wait until the Easter weekend, along with the rest of the onion patch and the pond.

In the kitchen, seeds are sprouting in earnest and I'm yearning for that greenhouse again; a lot of them are rather leggy from not getting enough light and I don't know what I'm going to do with them all as they get bigger! There are more to sow this week (celery and basil) and even more next week; they're just going to keep accumulating until May when I can start planting things out!

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