Monday, 11 April 2011

Allotments are just hard work

The soil temperature was a heady 19oC at 12 o'clock yesterday!  So I was less worried that I had planted the potatoes, however tonight there may be a frost.  Blooming English weather.

I was chatting to one of the allotment holders who is finding it difficult to keep their allotment clean of weeds.  She said that you see presenters on television pottering around making it look very easy.  However, taking on an allotment is a great deal of hard work.  Clearing it is a serious project that needs a lot of commitment.

This is what I am finding with the allotment too far.  It is indeed an allotment too far.  I will not clear it and be able to plant in it this year with all the horse tail (Equisetum arvensis)and bind weed (Calystegia sepium ) in it.  I am going to continue to clear it but it is difficult particularly as I have a full, clean, easy allotment to plant things in and keep weed free.  It is truly amazing how many of the old lags come down to the allotment too far and exclaim what a terrible mess it is in and then say, "It's not as bad as my allotment was when I took it over."  To all those that plan to come down to the allotment too far and say this - it does not help.

What I am thinking of doing is burying weed turfs in the trenches, covering with at least 2 foot of soil, covering the soil with a 2-3 inch layer of shredded branches then covering with black plastic for at least 6 months.  The black plastic would have to be laid very flat to keep out all the light and weighed down with the many bricks I have found on the allotment.  I walked around the allotment site yesterday and it is amazing the amount of black plastic on allotments that looks like it has dead bodies underneath it.  Lay it flat for goodness sake.

Why on Earth someone wants to put that much rubbish on their allotment I don't know.  There are about twenty window frames, two black Dalek bins, loads of rubble, two large builder's bags, loads of plastic of various sorts, a bath, bricks, corrugated iron sheets, rotten scaffold planks and so on.  The allotment committee are getting a skip for the weekend.  I think that I could fill it on my own.

One good thing is, there is a vast amount of nettle on the bottom end and I am going to harvest it to make liquid manure.  I will mix it with the comfrey and worm tea in my digester bins.  I have just put lots more tiger worms (Eisenia fetida) and red worms (Eisenia andrei)  into the worm bin to hasten the rotting down process.

I planted the Florence fennel in the greenhouse today.  I was going to plant it straight into the soil but changed my mind at the last minute mainly because it said to sow indoors on the packet.  I don't know why I didn't sow it indoors to start with because I had a lousy crop last time I grew it.  I think that it needs a bit of warmth to start it off.

I'm glad I was working today because it started raining and was showery all day.  It has certainly watered in my seeds and helped to keep the Nemaslug nematodes alive.  I looked carefully at the lettuce seedlings today and thought that I would put them out at the weekend.  Hopefully with the nematodes and beer traps I will not get any slugs eating them.  One of the things I have found very difficult to grow on the allotment is lettuce but now things will change - I hope.

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