The first three months, and so it was Christmas

Getting the plot

Getting a plot on an allotment is a both exciting and nerve wracking experience. There is so much more than can be actualised, in comparison to using Pop’s backgarden with plastic pots. With Early September,came 88 metres squared of allotment at the local site. The very last site, the patch of which I have half was covered in weeds. Thankfully, in some respects, the weeds had been treated. So all that remained to be done was clearing and digging it over. This was something of a mean feat. With the help of Ma and Grandad Mike, the site was cleared. There was so much to do, it felt altogether intimidating really. Clearance did take time, a couple of hours here and there over the course of fortnight. The evidence of the sheer effort was the presence of strains in places one didn’t think strain could occur.

plot and ‘wendy house’

Whilst pots and containers at home may in some cases be ignored and left to their own devices. This is not going to be the case for the hobbitland plot. Such a commitment, requires careful observation. If crops are going to be the goal, you need put in the effort. One of the valuable lessons learned this year was about fertilising the soil. Making sure it was in a fit state. Whilst up til now, I have played with nothing better than Multipurpose compost, the clay soil of the lotment presented a previously unexperienced challenge. This dirt was horrible, the sort to pick fights with you and stick around. Cue farmyard manure and chicken pellets. Being spread during a dry spell in efforts to make the clay more manageable. There was even some clay breaker in some places. I made the executive decision to not cover the soil over the winter. It remains uncovered so far, in that there is no plastic shrouding it. This was in the hop that the cold frosts would help break the clods down. To some extend that has worked. However, the other day, digging up the compacted down legume bed, it didn’t particularly feel that way.

Getting the family down there

There will always be naysayers. However, it is nice, and a challenge to try and communicate how an allotment works. The Siblings have only been down there the once. My mistake was take them down there when chicken manure had been applied. Needless to say, that out them off ever so slightly. They might not want to play there, but they will appreciate the produce. Other relatives have also been down to have a look. There are requests, I am yet to figure out of these are made jokingly; to sample the produce. To also grow certain things. One idea is to grow Christmas dinner, with a cousin saying they’d put an order in!

Valuable lessons learned

Chillies: Yess, you can grow them outside. Put a polythene gardening bag over them. But you do need to bring them into the warm to colour up. And yes, if you bite that Red Cayenne in a fit of bravado, it is going to hurt. Not so much for the Pops, who will much quite happily on one and so what about the beads of sweat. This year, there are ten varieties currently sat on the window sill. Not of all these are going to work, but it’s nice to find out which ones.

Finally!

Mushrooms:

Are a folly. An expensive one. To be fair, we did get a few. Not enough to justify the cost though of buying the kit. These are strange creatures. Whilst sticking to the instructions, the way they work is a brain ache. Didn’t get consistent shaped mushrooms. As nice as they were, not sure I’d do it again. The compost remains, after about three separate crops. Perhaps there will be more in the spring. Not too sure about these.

Gladys, Kevin and Bruno:

Three characters of the growing season, which provided so much knowledge and insight. All of which, I will attempt to grow again. With Kevin mark two, there is a whole analogue study planned where there will three or four types sown. We shall endeavour to see in time what happens. Aubergines also require heat, so will benefit from being under cover.

Wendy House:

Whilst I’m not too confident to get a proper one. A plastic walk in greenhouse took up residence on the plot. Not so much use

wendy alone

Wormery and Compost:

The idea of having a wormery was a novel one. Another science experiment. The problem over the last few months, has been to keep them warm. The wormery has been covered in many layers of fabric. The wormery was stuffed full of paper, with some food and the darlings left to it. My one concern was that it wasn’t damp enough. So they were sprinkled with some water. The beings looked rather limp and dozy, which didn’t make me feel so good. Not sure whether they really were asleep or in league with the Ex-parrot of Monty Python fame. Will check on them as the spring arrives. I really don’t want ex-woms….

Wormery.jpg

The compost bins. The imposing would be daleks. I need to hit on a fool proof way of playing with them. Currently one is less than half full. The other empty. Whilst our veg waste and tea bags go in. There never seems to be enough in there. Will be pressing on that in time.

Seedsaving and Heritage Varieties

The seed stashers are heaving. Due to the generous nature of other GYO-ers I have learned a valuable lesson. This year, the pumpkin produced hundreds of seeds. Some which have been given away and swapped. In return, some kind hearted souls have donated seeds in return. Seeds that have been saved by growers themselves. This is truly amazing idea. What is also nicer, it seeing if the pumpkin’s babies make it.

This idea of heritage varieties. I will be honest, I had no idea what it was. Varieties that are out of favour perhaps, no longer grown or are subject to the EU rules. Fruit and veg that no one grows these days. There are few in the box, and in joining the heritage seed library, I quite like the idea of saving seed for the future.

The plan for 2012:

To put it simply, is to use the lotment properly. Whilst the beds are divided up, and the wendy house is in position. What remains is to start sowing, to get crops going and fill the 88 metres squared with lovely GYO produce. It will by no means be easy. Nothing worth doing ever is. There is a lot that I would like to, as my bulging seed stasher testifies. And there’s not just one, there are two stashers. One has got somewhat carried away the seed selections! There is a plan. There was always a plan. Sketched out in the log book, it was there as the anticipation of having an allotment started to build. There have been a couple of changes, in the one bed is rock hard and would do well for brassicas. This has been swapped with what will now be the root veg bed. It does pay to consider the soil. As mentioned previously, the seed stashers are heaving. There are lots of seeds. There is no way, that I could sow everything. That of course won’t stop me from trying. Whilst all the beds are divided up and spoken for, I am keen to try different things. If they work, they work. If not, I will simply try something else. There are lots of different ideas that I want to try, one just hopes that I have the energy, time and inclination to try them.

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