Thursday, 15 May 2008

Free Bounty

The more times I go to the allotment, the more people I meet and talk to, and two people in particular have been very generous to us and our plot. One lovely lady, Eileen, has given us a big clump of chives to start off our herb bed. I placed them in a bucket of water for half an hour or so as they were quite dry and then planted them quite deep with plenty of compost and drainage. I gave them a good water and they are sitting there quite happily and look very much at home.

Another chap, Rupert, is also very kind and is always helping out people. He found a couple of rhubarb plants tossed onto the bonfire patch and he rescued them and brought them up to me. I don't particularly like rhubarb, and I don't think my family do either, but a free gift is not to be sniffed at, and I have a very good neighbour who loves it on her cereal, and there is also the challenge of making some rhubarb & ginger jam for example.

The next time I saw Rupert he brought up a loganberry bush that had been discarded on the bonfire. The bush looked very healthy and after soaking it for an hour or so while I found a spot to plant it and then prepared the ground, it looks like it has settled in nicely. It is between the blackcurrant bush and the strawberries for the time being, but I may move it next year if it needs more room.

We have also been given some piping to make a framework for netting over the fruit to protect it from birds, it is temporary water piping so I am told and it is ideal for making cloches etc. as it is very flexible.

I always feel I want to repay these kind people for what they do and give, but their plants and plots are far superior to ours and they seem to be very content to hand out their advice on a regular basis, and I think for them that is payment enough. Hopefully the time will come when I can do the same for others who are just starting out.

The Plot Thickens

Having now paid my rent for the extra ¼ plot and after waiting for the markers to be moved we are now in business.

Last Saturday we arrived at the allotment early and I managed to strim the whole of the new plot. It was really hard work and as the sun was extremely hot that day, I guess I must have burnt off quite a few calories! The children helped by raking up some of the grass and consigning it to the ever-growing compost heap, and while I was strimming I found one of our tools, a "masher" which we had lost the previous week. That just shows you how tall the grass was because the masher was completely hidden and I almost strimmed that too.

Two days later in the searing heat Peter dug across the whole length of the new plot to a width of about 1 ft, so we are on our way. The plan is to try and dig about the same amount each time we go and plant as we dig with no particular plan other than to use the space as an "overflow" plot this year. We have already used up all the space in bed no. 3 with the potatoes and we still have the late maincrop to plant, so they will go in the new plot and help break up the ground nicely. I shall also plant some of the tomatoes and peppers there and possibly some garlic.

Next year the ¼ will be organised into a series of beds, but there is no time for those niceties this year, the main thing is to get it dug and planted even if it is a bit haphazard - after all so long as the crops grow, what's the problem?

For now I am thinking of what I can plant permanently there next year. I fancy some fruit trees and maybe some more berries and fruit bushes, but I mustn't get ahead of myself, but it's OK to dream!

Saturday, 3 May 2008

Extra Measure

A few weeks ago I spoke to the Allotment Secretary about the possibility of having an extra ¼ of a plot which adjoins our existing ½ plot. The man who has the adjoining ½ plot next to ours has only ever cultivated the far end of his plot and the ¼ next to ours is in a very sorry state. When I mentioned it to her she said that she would raise it with the Committee, who were shortly having a meeting, but as there were about a dozen people already on the waiting list, it maybe that I would have to stay with my existing ½ and the adjoining plot split in two.

However, she did say that as we had done so well with our existing plot in our first year and were very keen, that would go in our favour, so she said "wait and see".

When we came back from a weeks holiday there was a message on the answer phone from the Allotment Secretary saying that if we wanted to have the extra ¼ it was ours for the price of £13 per year! would we? You bet!

So a few days later I duly paid my £13 and as soon as the markers are moved, we can start digging this new patch. When we went down to the allotment on Monday of this week, both Peter and I dug one spade's worth and although the earth is very nice it is full of...guess what? masses of bindweed and covered in grass. It is much worse than our existing plot was when we took it over, but I am sure that will the same hard work and planning it will be up and running in 6 months or so. I will let you know the progress that takes place.
Just for the record, here's what it looks like at the moment. Later on I will take some more photos so you can see the difference.