Monday, 23 March 2009

Raising the Stakes

We've made it - our first raised bed. It measures 5.5 ft square and is made out of sturdy wood that I retrieved from my friend's skip last year when she had a loft conversion. The boards are perfect because they are 6" wide so give a lovely deep bed. We placed 4 stakes (one in each corner) and then one in the middle of each board so that it is firmly set in place. We have raised the level around the rhubarb and filled it with the free compost that is sometimes available at the entrance to the allotment site.

In due course when the weather gets a bit warmer I will plant some comfrey seeds around the edge - Joe Swift from Gardeners' World says that every allotment plot needs to have some comfrey as it is a great compost activator and will attract loads of bees to its flowers.

In the meantime the rhubarb is sitting happily in the midst of its new home and we shall await the fruits of our labours. One raised bed down, about half a dozen more to go.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

P is for Pea

Last week I planted my first row of peas this year. They are an early variety called "Douce Provence". and I planted about 20 of them all in one row. My intention is to sow one row every 2-3 weeks so that we have a succession of peas in the early summer.

Last year when we grew peas most of them never even made it home as we were eating them straight off the plant as we were picking them. This year I am hoping for more peas so that some of them at least will make the journey from allotment to home to plate. Let's see what happens!!

Saturday, 7 March 2009

Mucking About

Over the past few weeks, most of the time when I have arrived at the allotment gates I have been greeted with a very "earthy country" smell. We have been blessed with many loads of manure and compost (all free!) being delivered on an almost weekly basis. The trick is to work out when (or ask a friend) when the next delivery will be and then turn up on that day and be prepared to do a lot of shovelling.

I have been able to co-incide my day off with a delivery on about 3 occasions and have been truly rewarded with some of the "golden stuff". It is very hard work to shovel the muck into the wheelbarrow and then wheel it down the hill and shovel it again onto the earth, but it is worth it. I have been able to give the raspberries a good thick mulch of about 3-4" along the row which is about 6m long. That must have taken at least 10 barrowloads for a start.

I have then turned my attention to the bed which I have designated purely for flowers (perennials and cut flowers). I marked off the edges and now have a lovely bed as I arrive at my plot. The flower bed is next to an "L-shaped" section of grass which is lovely to sit on in the summer. The flower bed has been edged and then filled with about a dozen barrowloads of compost and raked over. Along the back edge I have planted echinacea, iris, gladioli and dahlia. Waiting in the wings I have a yellow rose bush, buddlia some spreading geranuims, campanulas and gypsophelia. I am hoping that with the flower bed at one end of the plot and a hedge of lavender (half planted) at the other end that it will attract many beneficial insects who will do their work in between.

Meanwhile I think there is another delivery on Monday, so will be there weather permitting. No problem of where to put the next load of muck - the onion bed and around the newly planted Bramley apple tree.