Friday, 25 March 2011

I started digging the new allotment

I started double digging the new allotment yesterday.  I have only put in one trench at the moment.  It seems that the subsoil is builder's sand.  Not the best of soils to begin planting in.  
By all accounts the allotment is where a large pond used to be.  The council filled with hard core and sand when they developed the allotments in the 1940s.  That is why this ground is so water logged. 
I split the allotment into two by putting a line down the halfway mark.  Then I put a line across to show me where to dig the trench.  I skimmed off all the weeds and put them into a pile.  Next I started to put the topsoil from the trench onto the other half of the allotment in a neat pile trying to mix it as much as possible. There were potatoes in the soil but I will not deal with those until I put the soil back into the trench. The subsoil was also put onto the other half of the allotment alongside the topsoil but not mixed with it.
This is where I stopped because it was getting dark around half past six.  It will be much better when the clocks go forward at the weekend. 
In order to improve the drainage, I will put a layer of brushwood at the bottom of the trench first.  I have a large hedge at the bottom of the allotment and this could be tidied up really well if I use the prunings for the trench.  There is a large dog rose in the hedge which I would like to keep but it needs trimming back. 
On top of the brushwood, I am going to put the skimmed weeds, old brassicae plants and some of the rough stuff from Fred’s mega compost before I cover it with the next trench’s soil. 
I have eventually finished putting up all the sweet pea and runner bean canes.  I wanted to fit 20 canes in each row but there was only room for 18.  I placed them carefully every 9; the rows being 2 feet apart. I have six rows: five for sweet peas and one for runner beans.  
I am going to move the broad bean plants onto the brassicae bed to give me room to plant the parsnips.  I will not be planting out the brassicas before about May so the broad beans have plenty of time to produce some beans.  Even if they don’t they will have provided a little nitrogen for the cabbage and cauliflowers.  I am going to pick the beans when they are quite small because they seem to be sweeter then. 
The strawberry bed needs a tidy up as well so I will weed this area and give the strawberries a feed of comfrey liquid.  I will also give the cauliflowers and the blackcurrants some feed as well.  Some of the blackcurrants have got big bud mite and I will take them out and bury them in the trench on the new allotment.  I have replacements – last year’s cuttings to go in straight away.  I doubt if they will fruit this year but they will be good plants for next year. 
So those are my jobs for this week.   


  1. Double digging is an awful lot of work. Can you do anything to improve drainage? This could be a problem, but if so, the neighbours should be able to tell you.

  2. Hi Robert. I may not be able to drain the allotment but I am going to give it a good try. I am using my Montezuma method as described in some of the posts on this blog. I have drained my other allotment in this way.
    However, as the allotmenteers around me have said if I get rid of the water on my allotment, it will have to go somewhere else and that might be their allotments.