It's the end of Feb already! In a few weeks it will be potato planting time and then full steam ahead with the 2013 planting season. So far has been a slow start to the year as it has been so cold. Even the last 2 weekends the snow has been slightly falling again!
Our manure delivery didn't make it until almost Christmas due to the wet ground. So, the first job of this year has been to manure the beds for planting. We have managed to cover most of the beds on LottiePlotFour; except those reserved for root veg of course.
We have decided to make some big structural changes to the middle section of LottiePlotFour. This is mainly because maretail has taken hold on many of the paths here and they really need a good dig over again to knock it back. Maretail is a real nightmare of a weed which is very difficult to get rid of. Saying this, it has taken a good 4 years to start being a problem again from our original clearing so if we battle on we will hold it back. The fruit bushes to LottiePlotFiveA so we can clear the area and put some new 10x4ft beds in.
In order to transfer the fruit we had to dig a rather large area out of the back of LottiePlotFiveA, removing much couch grass and a globe artichoke plant. We are not particular fans of the artichokes and the plant roots were so tangled with couch that it was much easier just to get it out.
Ant dug out last years compost bin to provide compost to cover a new strawberry bed.
We used existing beds from LottiePlotFour to build a 3 section composting areas and a large strawberry bed in the area we had cleared.
...and made sure we added lots of manure before covering with the compost.
The bed was eventually filled with 47 strawberry plants grown as runners from an existing bed on LottiePlotFour.
The new composting and fruit area is situated at the back of LottiePlotFiveA.
We moved these established blackcurrant and redcurrant bushes onto LottiePlotFiveA along with some pink gooseberry plants.
This left a messy area in the centre of LottiePlotFour which needs to be dug over and weeded to make room for the new beds.
We dug up the herb bed, tidied up the plants and re-planted this also on LottiePlotFiveA.
Here you can see the new area completed.
Other jobs included pruning the autumn raspberries and the bramley apple tree. We extended the raspberry frame with some runners.
Life even springs up in a recently exposed bit of manure on the flower bed.
There is still alot of manure left to move. Fortunately there is quite a bit of space left to cover. We now have LottiePlotElevenA so watch this space!!
Some crops do still remain including Black Kale seen under meshing. Behind the kale there is a bed of potatoes which still seem very good; we better get these up soon though as they will sprout as the ground warms up!
Plenty of leeks.
Rhubarb sprouting through.
Spring bulbs giving us hope of some sunshine soon.
Well, terrible terrible weather! May had a 2 week drought. The temperature was approaching 30 degrees on a few days and then the rain came, and came; it has been lashing down ever since. Luckily the ground is pretty free draining at the plot so you can get on quite soon after a down-pour and do some work. This sort of weather can make it very difficult if you work fulltime; if weekends are a blow out you can miss essential planting times. The temperatures also really dropped in late May and we had to hold back on planting most of the tender plants until recently. This has accumulated in a very slow start to the season. Saying this, both plots are just about planted up now. Here's to hoping the weather improves from now on.
During March and April we have made good progress; Plot 5A is now cleared and ready for planting. We have planted the early and second early potatoes (international kidney, anya and kestrel). Plot 5a has a large onion patch with around 100 overwintering and 300 maincrop onions. The garlic that was overwintered in coming on strong. The rhubarb patch is looking good and all the fruit has starting growing. So far, we have sown some seeds - beetroot, carrots, broad and dwarf beans. We are due frosts again soon so hopefully these will survive.
It's been a while since we have had an update here at LottiePlotFour. We are determined that this year we will go back to the video updates and keep uploading these to youtube. You may think things are all quiet at an allotment over winter, but this needs to be a very productive time if you are going to have a plot prepared ready for spring. Here are are few things we have been up to:
Pruning the bramley tree. This tree is very productive. It was on the plot when we took it on and is planted far too close to the path. This does mean we have to try and keep it under control, but since we have been able to swop a sackload of these for a good few pounds of sausages at our local butchers, it really is worth the space. In addition, we have that much apple puree that I am still using this for preserves, desserts and breakfast items now! The green item handing in the tree is a codling moth trap. It contains a pad with a pheromone on that attracts the male moths to stop the breeding cycle. We have found these to be very effective.
The autumn raspberries have been chopped down to allow new growth. We extended the raspberry frame; now double the length filled with newly transplanted canes.
Don't forget that some crops still grow over winter. Over winter we left in carrots, swedes, black kale, parsnips and leeks.
Even in mid feb, the swedes and black kale are still going strong.
There is signs that spring is just around the corner.
Chives are sprouting through.
Clementis 'Montana' is showing new growth.
Spring bulbs are making an appearance.
Autumn planted garlic and onions have survived the winter.
Most of LottiePlotFour has been covered with straw from around November. The beds were dug over before covering.
These beds contained root crops that were overwintered. They have recently been cleared.
LottiePlotFiveA is under-going a major clear out. After taking the plot on last year we had decided to leave the area behind the flowerbed due to the large number of raspberry plants. Whilst the crops were great, the whole area was badly infested with bindweed and brambles. By the end of the summer it was in a real mess; this year the plan is to get the whole of the second plot into a more managable state.
We started by digging out the raspberries and brambles. Superfically it doesn't look too bad here. The first 6 foot of the plot isn't too bad as we dug this last year; the area behind this is a different story!
We decided to put all the roots into a 1 tonne builders bag. We have layered these with chicken manure from our chickens we keep at home. On top of this we will put a few bags of multi-purpose compost then cover with builders weed suppressant membrane. Through this we are going to plant a giant pumpkin. The huge leaves should hide the bag and we should get some great compost from this eventually. The idea is that, as we are tightly packing the roots in, they won't escape and will eventually rot down.
The bag is nearly full of roots and poop!
There is even still life underneath all this! This is a dahlia tuber that we dug out of the flowerbed. I planted these last summer and they survived the frost. Hopefully that means the other tubers may still be alive and the flowerbed may bloom at no extra cost.