Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Allotment Week, Part One: A Good Tidy Up

Every year, in the middle of March, Eddie and I take a week off together with the primary intention of getting the allotment in order for the growing season ahead. To be honest, it rarely works out like that; weather or household tasks usually get in the way and we don't tend to get as much done as we'd like - if I recall correctly, the plot was under snow this time last year! - but the intention is there. Well, last week was our "allotment week 2014", and I'm pleased to report that it was rather jolly good!

First things first: After seven years in the elements, our trusty storage bench neither functioned as a bench, nor kept the contents dry any more, and definitely needed replacing. You gotta have somewhere to sit!

I'd have liked to get something non-plastic, but wooden options are much more expensive and require more care and maintenance, so I confess we went for plastic again. We did dutifully take the old one to the 'rigid plastics' recycling bin at the tip though!

Our new bench looks pretty good and seems a bit more insect-proof than the first! Without a shed, we really rely on this space to keep all our tools and bits and pieces.

Next, we badly needed a new compost bin. Our old one is seven years old, just like our bench, and literally falling apart, with one side threatening to burst and spill compost all over the path...


With a few pallets from my brother's workplace and a bulk pallet delivery from the local Wood Recycling Centre, we soon had a new one built at the opposite end of the plot.

We moved it here for a few reasons: first, it's the shadiest part of the plot, under an elder tree, and the soil seems to be very poor here and full of roots; nothing we've planted here has ever done well. Second, the grass and nettles here go crazy and it'll be a sure way to stamp them out (while cutting any remaining nettle growth to feed to the compost). And third, we can use the sunny and now super-fertile spot where the old bin used to be for something else! Once we've finished deconstructing the poor thing and moved all the half-finished compost, that is...

You might have noticed we built a little flower bed next to the compost bin too, alongside the path. I lined it with thick cardboard to try to keep the grass out, and in it I've planted cowslip, forget-me-nots (not shown), wild pansies which self-sowed elsewhere on the plot, and some primrose seeds. I'll pop a few bulbs in later in the year, too. I'm not exactly sure which of these plants will thrive in this little semi-shaded spot and which won't, but hopefully it'll soon be a mini haven for pollinating insects!

Speaking of attracting wildlife, the pond needed a bit of TLC too. It was so overgrown this winter that we pulled basically all the vegetation out and then replaced a few small bits to regrow. Then the site flooded, and the pondweed (and the tadpoles) all floated away. Hmph. So we replenished it with oxygenating weed and put some barley straw in it to tackle the algae that's covering everything. It's looking much better already, and the water's so clear we can see the big fat frogs at the bottom. (It's rather silted up: the 'bottom' isn't nearly as deep as is used to be - so I think we still have more work to do on it...) Now when will those big fat frogs give us some more tadpoles? That's what I want to know!

The flooding, the inability to put anything else in our compost bin lest it exploded, and some neglect over winter had really left the whole allotment in a bit of a mess. The once-lovely blue frames round our beds are rotten now and fallen to pieces (and we're gradually replacing them with brick borders), our table made of bits of pallet fell apart when we tried to move it, and there was flood debris lying around here and there. So before we got down to any, like, actual gardening, we spent some time giving the place a good tidy up too; moving heaps of weeds from last autumn to the new compost bin, bagging up rubbish, and piling up stray wood. Quite a lot of stray wood... Now do we drag it all to the dump, or is this the time to give hugelkultur a try, hmmm...?

1 comment:

Roger Distill said...

Good work, guys! Well done! I look forward to seeing it again.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...