It’s been a while since I’ve blogged and that’s because I wanted to write about jobs as we completed them. Allotments, as it turns out, aren’t as ordered or linear as that – or maybe it’s just our concentration spans. We’ve been busy, that’s for sure, but I’m not certain we can officially tick anything off our To Do list.
So, how does our allotment look at the start of this year? Well, I think ‘building site’ covers it!
Rob has started laying paving slabs along our main pathway as and when we find them on Freecycle. We discovered the wood chip we previously used rotted away too quickly – we must have the dampest plot on site, and as it’s lower than any on our row there’s a good chance the other plots drain into it.
As you can see from the photo, we’ve removed the green netting from the fences. Whilst it put the rabbits off, it became brittle due to sun exposure and ripped whenever there was a breeze. I’ve added bells to the fence instead. I’m hoping the jangling scares the rabbits away and the extra rows add height that will prevent them from jumping over.
We’ve also been busy on shed work. Rob has relocated the cold frame from the south side, where everything in it was being baked, to the east side, and I’ve planted the little area along the north between the shed and fence.
A wild hop grows along the back fence and in front of this, I’ve planted foxglove ‘excelsior hybrid mixed’, an acanthus mollis ‘rue ledan’, and an asplenium scolopendrium. I’ve relocated the wild garlic to this shady spot too.
We were rather neglectful of winter sowing last year so the only crop we currently have growing is Solent Wight garlic. This year we hope to overwinter leeks, and maybe some Brussel sprouts if I can sneak them past Rob!
We’ve dug and mulched most of the beds. Some are covered in cardboard and some in plastic sheeting recycled from 2017’s bunny adventures. I still have two beds to create. We were given some gladioli bulbs last year and I’d like to grow them where the cold fame used to be. It should be a nice sheltered position and in sun for most of the day, but I need to work on drainage as it’s a bit sticky with clay. I’d also like to dig a circular bed beside the wildflower meadow for this year’s sweet peas.
We’ve trimmed and mulched the asparagus with spent hops, and I’ve mulched around our globe artichoke. I was waiting for cold weather before I pruned it, but now I’m wondering whether I should cut it back regardless?
We’ve also started tree work. Rob has pollarded the pussy willow, and I’ve started to coppice our hazel. I’ll use the branches to make supports for the sweet peas.
The wildflower meadow is showing signs of growth, but it’s still muted at this time of year. We planted at least 300 spring bulbs, but so far only one camassia leichtlinii and three tulips have broken the surface. I’m hoping our plot is just slow to come to life as there’s no sign of the daffodils, grape hyacinths, snowdrops, snakeshead fritillaries, or winter aconites. Since bringing this bit of land back into use it’s become a favourite spot for moles, so maybe they’re hoarding my bulbs somewhere…
And that’s winter, so far, on our plot. I guess we really should be planning what we’re going to grow this year. I’ve a feeling Rob will be monitoring my pumpkin and squash habit so I’ll have to figure out how to get a few extra varities past him!