Saturday, 25 January 2014

Starting to clear and triple dig an allotment (15)

After going to the RHS Level 3 Diploma course at Birmingham Botanical Garden, I decided to call in to the old allotment and get some more two foot slabs for the new allotment.  The slabs I am taking are retaining one of the beds but I will only be planting green manure here this year and the soil can fall into where the path was, and  levelled off before sowing green manure.  The spring on this part of the allotment is flowing constantly and making the ground particularly waterlogged.

However,  as I got to the allotment there was an enormous clap of thunder and the heavens opened.  I just got to the shed as a very heavy hail storm started to bounce large ice crystals off the allotment. Absolutely no reason for staying any longer and I retreated quickly to the car to go home.  So not a very successful day today.

I doubt that anyone visiting the new allotment would notice the path and would take little notice of whether it was straight or not.  However, it has been annoying me.  Although, reviewing the situation, I think that every allotment should have a wonky path.

I carefully marked out the path and put a line down - which I have been religiously using to position the two foot square concrete slabs.

If you look back up the allotment then they look all over the place.  Also as the new allotment slopes down and the slope is not even the slabs are not very level either.  The slabs do butt up against each other well and I can take a shovel and scrape the mud off the slabs without catching on each crack between the slabs.

I could take them all up again and redo but I think that they add character to the plot and I should leave them the way they are.  (And that is exactly what I am going to do.)

Whatever they look like; they make pushing the full wheel barrow very much easier and that is all that I need of a path.

Anyway, I planted some sage plants next to the curbing.  They are a bit scraggy this time of year but they are disguising the wonkiness of the path quite effectively.  I will put the rest of the herbs alongside the path to do the same job.  I've got two large pots of Mentha piperita "Grapefruit" ; a Mentha piperita "Chocolate" and quite a few self seeded parsley plants (Petroselinum crispum) to go in alongside the curbing.

On the old allotment, I have some Russian tarragon, rainbow sage, thyme and fennel still to move to the new allotment.  The rosemary on the old allotment has died but I have about 20 seedlings in the greenhouse which will join the other herbs alongside the path.  I think that there are some herbs that appreciate a little protection through the winter and I will be putting the rosemary in the greenhouse next winter.

I am still unsure where to plant the pleached bay tree but I would like to plant it with the other herbs.

I have taken up as many of the carpets and plastic sheets at the bottom of the allotment as I could.  There are still several that are covered in shredded brushwood and I will have to clear this off before I can move the carpets.  The shredded brushwood has decomposed and can be added to the top soil as a conditioner.
Moving the carpets and plastic sheeting has exposed a lot of Calystegia sepium rhizomes and I spent some time just pulling these off the ground and putting them on the weed pile to dry off.  I know that drying is not the process that can be associated with this time of year but the rhizomes have been removed from the soil and are exposed to the wind and any sun that we get.  However, the amount of rain we have been having will make this process take a lot longer.

I have removed all the stones that were in the pile of stone on the extra quarter allotment and put them into the greenhouse path trench.    This has filled the trench and I have levelled it in preparation for laying concrete slabs.  I will not put slabs here until I have finished the main allotment path down to where I am presently digging. This has given me more space to dry out the weed rhizomes.  So I am moving the pile, shaking the rhizomes well to knock off any soil that is sticking to them and putting them where the old stone pile was.  This will give me room to dig a couple of trenches out and sieve the soil so that I can plant my rhubarb there.  I have decided to separate the rhubarb putting the named varieties Champagne and Timperley Early in the fruit bed and the rest in a bed of their own.

My grafting tape and bees wax has arrived through the post and have been carefully stored away in my gardening box.  I will be using these in March.  I will have to make sure that my grafting knife is sharp too.

I also bought a couple of minibeast homes to put up on the posts that are around the allotment.
Ladybird and Lacewing box from Wildlife World 


  1. I remember years ago when a retired professional famous horticulturist retired and triple dug his allotment. What could be a better way to spend your retirement? His photos of his sprouts were fantastic, they were massive - er too big to eat.
    As you will realise from my blog title I am in a different camp to you
    Great blog!

  2. It keeps me out of trouble Roger. :-))

    I do not write this blog as a "this is a way to do it" because there are enough 'experts' out there already. I write it primarily to remind myself what I did the past and to have a laugh about how bad the allotment was.

    My allotment was covered in mare's tail Hippocastanum arvensis and bindweed Calystegia sepium, and I had little choice about whether I dug deeply or not. I did not want to be plagued with these weeds for ever more. I'm not foolish enough to think that I have removed them all but at least I have a fighting chance now.