Plot Notes

A personal journal, open for the world to read, recording the progress of a novice allotmenteer on his allotment.

Weed it and reap.

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Shaping up for year two.

I would have liked to have dug the plot over in February ready for sowing and planting over the next few months. I did try but really it was too wet. I prepared a bean bed which consisted of a couple of trenches lined with horse manure and then back filled with soil and home-made compost. I also created a small bed on part of last years potato patch into which I have put onion sets. Then it rained and in no time the bean bed had become a bean swamp and a moat had formed around the onion bed.

The area behind the greenhouse has been under water for a couple of months and is unusable for anything other than as a muddy allurement to my youngest daughter and her friends. My long term plan is to put a shed behind the greenhouse. This will need to go on a raised platform. A South-East Asian style shed on stilts might be more appropriate.  February was really a bit of a wash out. For much of the time digging was counter productive. I couldn't walk on the soil without sinking into it and compacting it. Wherever I walked I left a trail of muddy puddles rather than footprints.

March, however, has been much better. The bottom end of the plot is still quite soggy but over the last two weekends the plot has been transformed. It has been weeded and dug-over and the beds for this years crops have been marked out. At times this has meant cordoning-off the beds and then, so as to avoid walking on them and compacting the soil, working on hands and knees from outside the beds, reaching in to the beds to extract weeds and dig over the soil with a trowel before scattering a layer of well rotted horse manure on to the surface.

I have also tidied-up, weeded and manured the strawberry and asparagus beds, weeded the rhubarb bed and I have dug-over the pumpkin bed and buried a layer of rotting kitchen waste under it. I have sown a row of carrot seeds in a raised bed and put onion sets and garlic in one of the other raised beds. I think the whole plot is starting to take on a "ready for Spring" look rather than a "tired of Winter" appearance.

At the end of last year I asked my daughters if there was anything that I had not grown which they would like me to have a go at this year. Unanimously they suggested peas. I think they like the idea of being able to pick them and eat them straight from the pods when they visit the plot. So, new for this year, I have put in a row of Kelvedon Wonder peas and I will sow some more over the coming weeks. I have protected them from frost with a layer of fleece and I have used prunings from garden shrubs, which did not survive the winter frosts, as pea-sticks which will hopefully deter the local fat feral pigeon population from feasting on the peas before my daughters can get to them.

The rhubarb continues to push through and is starting to provide some welcome colour on the plot. All of last years crowns have survived the winter and I'm looking forward to my first rhubarb crumble of the year. I have not forced the rhubarb this year. I think the crowns are probably still too young to be forced but next year I will see if I can force an early crop.

My leeks, which have never looked anything other than pale, thin and pathetic, now suddenly seem to be greening up and thickening up. A few times I have been close to pulling them up and chucking them onto the compost heap but now they are more likely to end up on the dinner table in the next few weeks.

Out of 24 purple sprouting brocolli plants which were looking big strong and healthy in November only two of them have survived the arctic winter conditions and the daily banqueting of the pigeons. One of them has a few florets which I think will soon be ready for picking. I have transplanted the two survivors into a raised bed. I hope that after all they've been through this doesn't kill them off but I needed to move them so that I could prepare my potato bed ready for planting in early April.

I have found that one way to get the plot dug over without ruining the structure of the soil with my size 12 wellies is to make use of an eager light-weight volunteer.

I even managed to sit in the greenhouse, put my feet up and have a nice cuppa whilst my young apprentice got on with the digging. It was very relaxing....until she spotted me.


  1. Morning Phil, I've just found your blog, and am thoroughly glad i have! It's great reading, and your plot looks fantastic now that it has dried out a bit. I am looking forward to keeping up to date with it through the coming seasons.

  2. Impressive progress given the sodden month of February. You make me itch to get on and sow things at my own plot.

  3. Nice post, it's always good to see how other allotmenteers are getting on! You're certainly doing well if the photos are anything to go by.
    I've only got back to work on my plot the past two weeks as before that it was far too wet.
    Cheers, Flighty.

  4. Nice plot!
    My leeks look similar to yours :D
    I dug them up and then forgt to to take them home!