Back in February I revealed my allotment plans for the year. I didn’t want to leave too much wriggle room as I was worried without structure I’d sow the entire contents of my seed tin (it’s a secret, overcrowded place where no one dares venture alone). My plans, therefore, had to be adhered to without any hesitation, deviation or repetition (OK, repetition allowed for planting structure, just don’t tell Nicholas Parsons). You’re probably not surprised to read, however, that I haven’t stuck to any of it (except the asparagus bed, but even then I muddled up my ‘Ariane’ and ‘Mondeo’ rows).
So, what’s changed? Well, the giant bed of sweetcorn, pumpkins and borlotti beans has been scrapped. I was going to attempt the Three Sisters method, but P is leaving and in doing so has inadvertently affected our own plot’s course. She’s had enough of the rabbits, and the politics of the allotment Old Boys’ Club. She mentioned the rabbits during the last AGM and was shouted down rudely by a certain number of long-standing regulars. I wasn’t there, so didn’t witness it, but L reported similar when she broached certain issues. As a result P has found herself a new plot on a site on the other side of town. It’s rabbit and deer proof, the plots are all well maintained, there’s regular inspections, and there’s rules that everyone has to abide by. It sounds the antithesis of our site. There’s an annual town prize for the best allotment and I believe the winner is usually from that site. P’s not officially leaving until September, but she’s already started to empty her old plot. Her new site only allows dwarf fruiting trees so she’s gifted us and L the trees she cannot take (just so the Old Boys can’t get their mitts on them after she’s gone).
And that signalled the first change to our plans. We thought we’d replace the giant sweetcorn bed with a mini orchard. I even moved one of the apple trees over onto our plot.
But, there was a slight snag in the plan – at some point over winter the deer picnicked on P’s trees. They’re all girdled. You’d think I would have noticed by the lack of leaves and blossom, but no. I dug the hole for one, dug up the tree on P’s plot, planted it on my plot, dug a second hole for the next tree… And that’s when I realised. These trees are dying.
By this time I’d already fallen in love with the idea of having fruit trees on our plot, so Rob has bought me some as an early birthday present.
We have an apple ‘Red Devil’, a pear ‘Doyenne du Comice’, and a cherry ‘Kordia’ from Pomona Fruits. The apple and cherry are self-fertile, but the pear needs another cultivar for pollination. We’re hoping there’s something compatible already on the allotment site as the majority of plots have fruit trees.
I made some guards from old wire fencing we had left over from the rabbit proofing. Fingers crossed it will keep the rabbit and muntjac at bay.
Our other deviation from our plans involved the old sinkhole. We weren’t going to do anything with it this year, but the family visited for Rob’s brother’s birthday and we set Steven, the birthday boy, to work digging a pond and bog garden. It’s not quite finished. We still need to trim and bury the liner, create a little bird bathing area, and it needs a few more plants.
I’ll write a full blog post about it when it’s finished, but the planting so far includes Iris Pseudacorus (flag iris), Iris Sibirica ‘Tropic Night’, Lythrum Salicaria (loosestrife), Primula Bulleesiana (Candelabra primula. I’m not sure which colour we have), and Geum Rivale (water avens) – bought from Waterside Nursery.
I’m hoping to get a couple more Primula Bulleesiana for my birthday as the one we have is looking lonely. The pond and bog garden should attract more beneficial wildlife to the plot. We already have a couple of toads and a frog living in the various beds (they’re currently hiding under small squares of carpet), so hopefully this will improve their living conditions. I also plan to build a few more toad shelters over the coming months.
In other news from the plot, Rob has dug himself a beer storage area using an old bin filled with water to keep his beer cold.
And during the heatwave we had earlier in the month, we constructed a canopy under the willow tree and didn’t even bother to pretend to do any work. I think we might look into building something more permanent.
The hot spell lulled me into a false sense of security and since then I’ve killed a courgette, vegetable spaghetti and sunflower. I think I planted them out too early and the slugs and snails went on a rampage. Also, my Borlotti beans aren’t looking too great. Again, the curse of planting them out when nights are too cold, and days have strong winds… Or some other reason. To be honest, I’m not sure. All I know is that they don’t look like they’re enjoying themselves. They’re now protected with fleece (thanks to my folks) so at least I can hide my bad plantwomanship shame from other plot holders.
I’ve sown a new set of seeds back at home just in case. Speaking of home, the marina manager salvaged his plastic greenhouse that took a battering during one of the storms earlier in the year. It’s now chockablock with all my scraggly seedlings from the boat. It should provide the heat and light they’ve been sorely missing.
Hopefully they’ll fare better here, but we’ve already had to run out and rescue the cover once today after the wind partially removed it from the frame!