Finally it all came together. First of all I managed to harvest my very first spring rhubarb – I think it is the tastiest of all the pickings.
Last year in the autumn I have acquired another greenhouse, a very old one at that. It belonged to an elderly lady who lived in a house right next to our allotments. We were very friendly, she was used to come to see me quite often . She had a little gate in her fence as her husband was used to have a plot on our site quite a number of years ago. She died a few years ago and the people who bought her house didn’t want the greenhouse so I rescued it. The structure was sound but as we dismantled it quite a lot of the panes of glass broke – it was very old and brittle. Anyway, with help I moved it all to my plot and stored it very carefully. My friend Dave said he would help me to put it together. Soon after the New Year he surprised me by getting the structure up and in position. It formed a neat group of greenhouses. Next job was harder – sorting out the panes of glass. As so much of it broke I decided to do a bit of mix and match – I ordered eight polycarbonate sheets for the side panels and decided that the rest and the roof would be glass. Had to buy some more glass but it all started to take shape. I’m delighted to say that the only thing to do now is to fix new runner wheels on top of the door – on order – and all is done. Nevertheless I have constructed my raised beds inside, filled them with the contents of one composter bin and a number of sacks of Dalefoot compost. This way I can have one greenhouse for tomatoes, one for peppers and chillies and one for aubergines and the occasional cucumber will be placed where I will find space. I am very happy but all this was possible only with a huge lot of work by Dave. Thank you Dave. A friend in need is a friend indeed.
My self isolating continues on the allotment, doing jobs that I knew should be done but unfortunately I always had something more urgent to do. Today was the day to tackle the next task – moving a composter bin. This one has been in place since I acquired this plot, never been emptied so I had high hopes for some rich soil there. I wasn’t disappointed, about half was rich and crumbly soil, that got distributed around a few fruit trees as a mulch.
Mulch from composter bin
The rest of the stuff wasn’t sufficiently decayed so that got moved into the bin after I placed it in the new position. I have had three bins at the end of one plot, beside a water butt and a compost and there was a convenient space, just for one more bin. It is there now and the uncomposted matter is the base layer, a starter in the old bin in the new place.
new place for the bin
An empty place well filled.
In the old , now empty, part of the plot I erected some bean sticks. The thinking was – the soil there was quite rich, it wouldn’t do for either carrots or parsnips so beans will be happy there.
Tomorrow’s activities are therefore sorted – finish digging this part and make it ready for sowing – it’ll be fine for parsnips. Carrots will be on the part dug over yesterday and I have got one area to do later, that’ll do for beetroot.
Almost sorted out.
I was looking at my seed collection and grew more and more frustrated. It is all fine to see that parsnips could be sown from February onwards. Well, that would have been rather difficult as the weather was against me.
Never mind, yesterday was a lovely sunny day so I made sure the piece of ground where the parsnips are going to grow is weed – free (quite a challenge, they seem to grow at the rate of knots!) and covered it with a piece of horticultural fleece. I’m sure it will worm the soil and I shall be able to sow one of my favourite vegetables.
That done I turned my attention to the greenhouse. There are raised beds on both sides and a small one at the back. I added some more soil from my composter bins and now they are ready. Fortunately I have a large plastic cloche to cover one of the beds so I planted some lettuce seedlings there. That way we can have some early Icebergs.
Last but not least I prepared another small raised bed that is beside the greenhouse, put a bag of old horse muck in and covered it with a thick layer of good soil, this is now ready for one pumpkin. I have high hopes for my latest acquisition, seeds from a Maltese pumpkin. I’ve seen them in Malta, now the challenge is to grow them as big as they were there.
In the past few years I had four raised beds with strawberries but one in particular is getting a bit old, they didn’t produce very much fruit. I have decided to dig them out, used some of the best runners to fill gaps in other strawberry beds and this one is now ready to be planted with broad beans. I have started them in the greenhouse in the back garden. They will be sheltered in this bed, I can plant them there a bit earlier.
I knew all the lovely topsoil I managed to get from my two ‘forgotten’ composter bins would come handy. It was a bit too wet today to continue with digging so I had to concentrate on maintenance.
First was one path, rather the grass on it, that had to be cut. As it was so high it had to be done with the shears. Ideal job for a chilly morning. There was so much grass it almost filled one composter bin.
Talking of bins – some weeks ago I emptied a couple of them and bagged the contents – beautiful topsoil to be used to top up the raised beds in my lovely greenhouse.
I was late in the season getting the greenhouse but it is all going to be ready for an early start next spring. I know it is wishing my life away but I can’t wait. All my tomato, cucumber and pepper seeds are sorted out and I’m ready……………
…but good enough to do other work.
About three years ago I put two composter bins on one of my plots. I kept filling them with grass cutting, kitchen waste and all manner of things (but not weeds as i think it doesn’t ge hot enough to kill them).
I didn’t continue working this plot but the bins are still there and I was adding more material in.
A few days ago I managed to upend one of them and move it to the end of another plot, close to my shed. It was half empty and it looked brown and crumbly, just like the best potting compost you buy in a garden centre.
Today was the turn of the other bin – again upended and moved next to the other one near the shed. There was some dry stuff on top of both heaps and I took it to my bean trench, it helped to fill it up.
It is too good to waste so I decided to put it in bags and use it when I need to top up my raised beds in the greenhouse etc.
The new spot for the bins, neat and tidy, in the corner of the plot, ready to be filled again.
It was worth the wait – must do it more often – ‘forget’ to empty the bins regularly and that way will get beautiful potting compost.
It was a neglected plot, right next to mine. I hated the idea of all that lovely soil not producing anything so a decision was made. I took on a half – there is a greenhouse on the first half and somebody else has got that. I didn’t want a greenhouse on the allotment – too much hassle with watering, ventilation etc.
First I moved a mountain of piled up wood and don’t know what else, sorted out good pieces that could be used again and then started digging.
Cold or no cold – digging is a perfect remedy. It only took a few days and the job is done. I even managed to construct a little enclosure for a compost heap (for weeds and such like), moved the water-butt and a composter bin and now all is just lovely and ready to be planted.
Because I know the previous occupant grew potatoes I shall put some pumpkins, squashes and bush courgettes there this year.
You can’t have enough ground, there are always plants to grow…..
…and all of a sudden I have got another bit of land. I must say, I’ve given up a part of a plot, close to my raspberry patch – I’ll cover it with some tarpaulin and old carpet to suppress the weeds. This ‘new’ bit is actually the other half of my own plot where I have my fruit cage, net tunnel and a big net cage. It just made sense to add that…..well, it made sense to me, anyway. The guy who gardened on it left and I started as I mean to continue.
There is only a small patch left to dig and I’m done.
All my other plots are ready, I just have to pull out some weeds that dared to appear! The last thing will be to tidy the raspberry plot – before the canes get growing I can trim the edges and weed the rows.
The weather should be good again tomorrow and I think I might be able to finish it all. One more task – must put a bag of my saved horse manure into each composter bin, to help the breakdown of the material in there.
As I have quite a bit of land I shall grow some annual flowers – it’ll add extra colour and also attract bees to the plants.
As much as I can I compost everything to give me eventually some rich compost; for that purpose I have two large black composter bins on the allotment. Apart from cooked food or meat I put everything there; not weeds though, they go on a separate pile and there they can rot. I add shredded paper and torn egg boxes to the bins as well.
It follows then that I don’t like to use chemicals as fertilisers. I have a large barrel of comfrey tea ready, use it diluted when I’m watering and my latest innovation is the liquid from my wormery.
The wormery is in my back garden and I put in any kitchen waste, the worms seem to get on with anything and everything and the end result is bottles of dark liquid and I use it the same way as I would the comfrey tea – diluted in my watering can.