Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Taking the kitchen scraps down to the allotment.

Now that the black plastic 'Dalek' composter at home is full, I am taking the kitchen scraps down to the allotment.  There are several different things that I could do with them; I could put them in the worm bin; put them on the compost heap; or bury them in the runner bean trench.

I haven't completed the compost heap containers yet.  I am making them out of old pallets and wiring them together with electrical wire.  I buried most of the pallets that were on the allotment because they had rotted away and more or less fallen apart. I put the pallets under the subsoil with logs and shredded material when triple sieve digging.  So, I don't really have enough good pallets at the new allotment to complete the compost containers yet.  I will either get some from allotment 3A or from the old allotment.  I will have to wait until all the new compost at the old allotment has decomposed before I can dismantle the bins and bring the pallets to the new allotment.

I have used the green manure and the well rotted compost from the old allotment to dig in under the runner bean rows and put up the cane supports which means that it would be difficult to bury the kitchen scraps here.  Beans do seem to respond to good friable well rotted compost being added to their root run  therefore I added quite a lot of this material.  In other words, the beans don't need anything else dug in.

The only thing left is to put the scraps into the worm bin.  I have had the worm bin for several years now and never cleaned it out - until this year.  When I used it at the old allotment, I put rhizomes from mare's tail and bind weed into it to decompose after drying them out.

 Now that it is clean and I have taken it to the new allotment, I have the opportunity to set it up properly again.  The plastic filter was still in good shape but the flower pots holding it above the tap were broken.  I replaced them with two terracotta pots which will not necessarily collapse under the weight of green waste added.  Several bags of kitchen scraps were added and left to decompose.

I will use some of the well rotted compost from the compost bin at home to introduce the worms.

I have just harvested the 'Aalsmeer' winter cauliflowers and processed them by taking off the large leaves and carefully washing the flowers.  All the dead, diseased and damaged material  was taken off and put in the green waste tub.  Egg shells; onion peelings; potato peelings; cut flowers that have gone over and several other vegetable peelings went into the green waste tub this week and I have taken them all down to put into the worm bin.   I really need to raise the worm bin up on slabs so that I can fit a tub underneath the hole at the bottom.  I found an old, cast iron, garden fire brazier buried under the old compost heap and was going to take it down to the waste tip.  However, now I have decided to use it to raise the worm bin off the ground so that I could put a plastic tub under it to catch the liquid.  I was never going to use the brazier for fires so this has saved me a journey to the waste tip.

I have taken the tap off the worm bin because the worm liquid can just drip out and into a container.  I will put the worm bin liquid into the big green comfrey butts to mix with the comfrey tea.

I am going to set up both of the big green, comfrey butts at the new allotment putting them onto a plinth of concrete slabs.  One will definitely go by the little shed and the other will probably go beside it if there is room.  Until my comfrey bed is established at the new allotment, I will use the comfrey from the old allotment to put into the butts.

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Fruit on the old allotment.

I have cleared off and given up the top half of my old allotment.  It was a bit of a wrench because I had had that allotment for over 30 years and it came third twice in the Wolverhampton allotment competition.
The reasons for giving it up were.

  1. Even though I had invested a lot of time and effort in trying to drain the soil,  this year saw the allotment with running water flowing over it for five months.
  2. For over a week now we have been having bitter north easterly winds that have been blowing across the allotment.  I noticed today that the black currant foliage had been burnt back by the wind and the frost we have been having.  Having a north easterly facing allotment just makes things that more difficult.  
  3. Being at the top of Penn hill  makes the allotment even more exposed.  I don't think that there are any hills between Penn hill and the Urals in Russia and when that north easterly wind blows I'm sure it is straight from northern Russia.  
  4. The allotment is about five miles from where I live and takes me a 20 minute drive to get there. 

So rather than give the whole allotment up, I thought that I could keep one half but plant things in it that do   not need a lot of fussing over.  The first things that I moved were the strawberries.  Moving them this late in the season means that I will not get much fruit off them this year.  Similarly with the black currants, moving them now means that I will not have any fruit on them.  I moved the strawberries one at a time watering them in straight away with dilute comfrey liquid.  They were moved with a large root ball of top soil and this seems to have been a successful venture.  

After inspecting the black currants carefully, I found quite a bit of big bud mite,  Cecidophyopsis ribis Most gardeners would recommend that mite infested black currants should be taken out and burnt.  However, as I was going to prune the bushes hard back in order to be able to transplant them, I would remove most of the big bud mite as well.So I coppiced all of the bushes before moving them and buried the prunings with big bud mite 2 feet deep in the soil.
The plants were very big but were still able to be moved.  I transplanted them one at a time so that they were out of the ground for as shorter time as possible.  The ground was prepared by digging over leaving holes for the currants.  I did not use any additional fertiliser because this ground had been well manured with pigeon muck last year.  As I dug the currants up, I left a large ball of roots and top soil.  They were put into the holes so that the base of the stems were just below the surface of the soil to encourage shoots to grow from the bottom and were copiously watered with comfrey liquid.  I planted them about a yard apart and staggered the planting.  The cuttings from the currants were planted alongside the comfrey bed and will be used to replace any of the older currants that do not fruit and to expand the fruiting area. 

The plants will be mulched with anything that comes to hand such as lawn mowings, horse manure, shredded woody material; leaves; straw and green manure.  If this is done properly with at least a 2 cm covering then I will not need to weed between the bushes - overly.

The green manure has produced a lot of growth and really should be dug in.  However, I thought that I would use it as a mulch to cover the ground between the strawberries and the blackcurrants.

I was given two Rubus x loganobaccus 'Lye 654' today but will plant them on the new allotment.  The blackberry Rubus fruticosus 'Adrienne' has died because it had been moved, however I have another very healthy rooted cutting that has established itself.  If I take out the dead blackberry, there will be room and supports for the new loganberries.

Three more two feet slabs were taken up to the new allotment.  They were used for the greenhouse path.  I will have to level them properly but they seem to be bedded in better than I thought.  I brought the slab trolley as well but the curbing on the sides of the path prevented me from using it.  I still need 23 slabs to complete all the paths.  However, moving two foot square and 2 inch thick slabs is not my favourite sport so there will be no rush to finish.  The slabs do add an air of professionalism to the allotment through giving me edges and straight lines to follow

Looking at some allotments, gardeners do not seem to think that straight lines and right angles are a good way to vegetable garden.  I have always used straight lines primarily because it is easy to work out planting and thinning distances.  Another advantage is that it enables you to hoe between the plants easily and keep the allotment weed free.  Neat weed free lines of vegetables look more aesthetically pleasing than a higgledy piggledy weed infested patch of broadcast seedlings.  They discovered this in the 19th century and I have not found anything different.  

Yesterday, I dug the compost and green manure into the runner bean bed and raised the level of the soil a little.  I put up quite a number of canes using wire ties.  I used three tree posts to give the structure a little more stability.  I am using the triangular method of tying in the canes with a horizontal at the top and two rows of canes tied to them.  

I have sown some runner beans in the green house but it may still be a little early for them.  The seedlings will be protected when I plant them out but it is far too early to plant them at the moment particularly with this cold north easterly wind.

I looked to see if any of my 'Aalsmeer' winter cauliflowers had headed up and found two that were ready for picking.  I also got some rhubarb.  These are the only vegetables that I am harvesting at the moment.  I am almost ready to begin growing in the cold frame where I will be sowing mixed leaves, lettuce and radish for salad.

That annoying north easterly wind defeated me and I went home for cauliflower cheese and rhubarb crumble.

Friday, 18 April 2014

The Big Allotment Challenge? I don't think so...

Back in February I got an email from a friend saying I should apply to go on the Big Allotment Challenge 2014.  Looking at the criteria for the programme, it indicated that I was far too qualified to be considered. They didn't want anyone who was serious about gardening but wanted novices.

I watched the first episode of "The Big Allotment Challenge" and what did I get?  A group of novices growing radish.  Need I say more?

To say that this was an enormous disappointment would not be an exaggeration.   All that programmes like this do is encourage unprepared beginners to take on allotments that overwhelm them in less than a month. What with Monty and his gardening for grannies, serious gardeners do not get a look in.

We need to loose the rose tinted, romantic vision of growing vegetables and show people the hard work and effort that goes into a well managed allotment.

So what kind of gardening programme would I like to see?

A group of experienced amateur gardeners taking over bind weed, mare's tail and couch grass infested 90 x 30 foot allotments with the aim to turn them around in one season.    They should start in August or September and have the allotments ready to plant in the spring of the next year.  They should be allowed to use machines if they want or do it by hand. Although they could use black plastic to help to clear the ground of weeds, they should not be allowed to use chemicals.

Horticultural qualifications should not be a bar on participants. They should demonstrate their skills in growing a wide range of good quality pest free vegetables including 'difficult' ones like cauliflower and celery. They should demonstrate their ability to do advanced tasks such as making good quality compost together with an understanding of how to mix  potting and seed composts; pruning fruit trees to cordon, espalier and fan; producing at least one successful graft of a fruit tree; taking and successfully striking cuttings of soft fruit; planting and managing a greenhouse of various vegetables and fruits (tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, grapes, peach, apricot)  and producing at least one type of  cut flower to exhibition standard.

They should plan a rotation and grouping of vegetables; also showing  how they prepare the soil for each of the crops.

Now that would be a programme worth watching.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Seed sowing and transplanting.

I have completed transplanting the 'Golden Bear' and 'Armstrong' onions into sectioned trays. I think that I have more than enough to fill the space I have on the allotment for them.  I also pricked out the brassicas; the 'Brunswick' and 'Stonehead' cabbages; the calabrese and  the 'Flamenco' cauliflowers.

Next I transplanted a couple of trays of 'Blue Solaise' leeks.  I may not have room to plant these out where I had planned so I will need to get a move on and dig over allotment 3A so that I will be able to put the leeks out.

The outdoor tomatoes 'Outdoor Girl' have germinated very well and I have over thirty of them.  I am going to grow them as cordons outside.  If I eventually move the greenhouse down to the allotment, I will grow bought 'Shirley' or 'Alicante'  tomato plants under cover.  The 'Outdoor Girl' will have string supports like my greenhouse tomatoes but the strings will be attached to long, thick canes supported every two foot by two short canes.

I sowed the 'Alderman', 'Telegraph' and 'Champion of England' tall climbing peas into sectioned trays.  I was not sure where these were going to go on the allotment but I have decided to plant the pea seedlings next to the sweet peas.  The cane supports for these peas are already up and all I need to do is cover them with netting.  The netting will do two jobs; give the peas something to climb up and protect the pea seedlings from the pigeons.

Chamomile, marjoram, basil and thyme are the herbs I am growing from seed this year.  If there is room, I will put these in the leaf's bed.  Which reminds me, I need to remember to get some spinach, coriander and  sorrel seed.

The celery, celeriac, and florence fennel have been sown and will be put into the leaf's bed when they have grown to about four or five centimetres tall.

More lettuce and cauliflowers were sown for the succession together with winter cauliflower, brussel sprouts, late broccoli, green cauliflower, but no kale this year.  I might still get some kale seed but I don't have any at the moment.

The winter 'Aalsmeer' cauliflowers on the allotment are beginning to flower now.  The ones that I have harvested have only been small but I have some bigger plants that may produce heads a little larger.  They don't really like the hot weather we have been having and are flagging and drooping their leaves.  Although I watered all the seeds and sweet peas today, I did not get round to watering the 'Aalsmeer'.  Took one home today and harvesting to cooking could only have taken about 30 minutes.  Luvly jubbly.

At the allotment, I sowed the salsify and Hamburg parsley in the roots bed.  After that, I watered all the root's seed that I had put in.  The Sanguisorba minor that I had potted up from the old allotment was looking decidedly poorly even though I had watered them so I planted them where I had a space at the end of the carrot rows.  I was going to put them next to the greenhouse path but now I will put the rosemary seedlings alongside the path.  Salad burnet can be another leaf used in mixed salad; it can be used as a cooked vegetable or made into a tea but only the young leaves can be used.  The older leaves are very bitter.  

Finally, I dug in some of the green manure on the brassica bed and sowed the turnips, kohlrabi and swedes watering them in thoroughly in this hot weather.

I think that the sweet peas are beginning to get eaten by flea beetle again.  I am beginning to suspect that flea beetle are living in the green manure and survive winter and the digging to infest the sweet peas.  Something that I need to keep in mind next year.  Maybe I need to avoid using green manure where the sweet peas are going to go next year.  I am not too sure what I can do about it this year; except make sure I move the soil around the seedlings to expose any eggs that can be eaten by the robins and blackbirds.

I began to dig the area where the runner beans will go.  There is a little bind weed growing into allotment 2 from the path and I wanted to get rid of this.  Green manure and compost from the old allotment is going to be dug in along the runner bean line later in the week.  I will also use the old allotment compost under the climbing french bean row.

I really need to complete the hedge and greenhouse paths as soon as may do this tomorrow. Also, plot number 3A needs digging over to remove mare's tail and bindweed.  When I have done this, I will have far too much land to manage sensibly so I will be giving up all of the old allotment.  However, I might just keep a quarter.

So more jobs to do tomorrow.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Organising the allotment jobs.

Today, I wanted to sow my root vegetable seeds.  These include carrots, parsnips, beetroot, Hamburg parsley and salsify.  In order to do this, I had to complete the path alongside the allotment.  Putting the curbing in to retain the growing bed topsoil would mean I would disturb the seeds.

In order to complete the path, I needed to get some subsoil to level the path foundations and to get the subsoil, I had to dig out a trench across allotment 3A (which I have also taken over).

However, before starting any of the jobs, I filled all the bird feeders.

So, next I started with digging the trench out, sieving the top soil to remove perennial weed rhizomes and stones and placing it on the top soil I had already sieved.  This gave me access to the subsoil, which I put into the wonky, battered wheelbarrow and took down to the path making area.

Taking out the subsoil meant that something had to replace it or the soil level would be lower in this area.  I have been cutting back the bushes growing at home and had these, together with some lawn mowings, ready to put into the trench.  More subsoil was forked over and put on top of the cuttings and mowings, making sure there was no mare's tail or bindweed in it.

I am not going to dig over allotment 3A as well as I did allotment 2 because I will use it primarily as an overflow allotment.  Having said this, I will use some of it for my comfrey bed and another big area for the large rhubarb.  The big rhubarb is still at the old allotment and I will not be able to move it until next year. This will give me an opportunity to prepare the soil really well and add lots of horse manure to the top soil. Rhubarb seems to respond really well to copious amounts of well rotted horse manure.

I thought that I levelled the path quite well but I will have to do this again sometime.  As I have the curbing bedded in now, it means that I can raise the slabs and level their foundations without disturbing the seeds. However, that is jumping ahead of myself.

With the path foundations levelled, I began to walk the two foot square, concrete paving slabs down to the end of the path.  Not too difficult to start with but as the day drew on and I became more tired, it seemed to become much more arduous.

The slabs were laid up to next door allotment's pallet compost heap.  They had built this over the path so I cannot make the path up to the hedge.  It also meant that I had to do a dogleg in the path to get around the compost heap and link up to my hedge path.  After putting in the curbing to retain top soil, I put more slabs along the hedge path.  Although the slabs reached quite far down this path, I will still need quite a few more to complete this path and the one up to the greenhouse foundations.

Rather than going home because I was very tired, I decided to put the seeds in.  This was a much more enjoyable job.

I decided to put the carrot seed in first.  This would allow the carrots to develop in full sun all day - provided the sun was out - because this area of the allotment is south facing and not shaded by the hedge.  I put in four 16 feet long drills  for the seed and each drill was watered with comfrey liquid.  I did not add any other fertilizer because this area had both blood, fish and bone; and rock dust mixed into the top 300 mm of soil. The drills were taken out with the back of a right angled rake and carefully filled again after the seed had been sown thinly.

The seed was sown thinly so that I do not have to thin the carrots a great deal, later in the year.

When this task was completed, I had one row of 'Flyaway'; a row of 'St. Valery'; and two rows of 'Autumn King'

Wire cloche supports were then used, at two foot intervals, to stretch enviromesh over to form a barrier preventing carrot root fly getting to the carrot seedlings.

A 17 foot drill was taken out  for the parsnips 'Tender and True' and these seeds were sown after I had watered the drill.  The drill was carefully filled with top soil and the seed bed raked to remove foot marks.

The same procedure was completed for a 16 foot 'Boltardy' beetroot drill and that is when I called it a day and went home for some tea.

I like it when I have organised the jobs at the allotment so that everything is done in the correct order.

I still have to sow the Hamburg parsley and the salsify but they can wait until next week.  The next big job is to sow the greenhouse seeds.  To do this I need some more New Horizons organic compost.  Getting seed compost will be my next job.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Finishing off the path with 2 foot square concrete slabs.

I think that it was John Loudon who said that grass paths have no place in the kitchen garden.  They are a pain in the neck in the allotment too.  Grass paths get churned up when the weather is wet particularly if you are wheeling a wheelbarrow over them constantly.  They get full of weeds which incessantly encroach on growing areas regardless of how diligently they are removed or cut back.  Finally, grass paths take a lot of maintenance with frequent mowing and edging.

John Loudon, in agreement with many other Victorian horticulturalists, said that the gravel path was ideal for the walled kitchen garden.  I would like to add my agreement too.  However, there is no way I have the time or inclination to make gravel paths around the allotment so I have compromised by having paths made from two foot square concrete slabs.

While they are not as evil as the 3' x 2' slabs they can still be nasty pieces of work especially if they fall on your foot.  Most of these slabs are the 2 inch thick versions and they are heavy...  Thick, heavy and hard wearing are good when talking about allotment paths.  They do not dent or rutt in wet weather, they suppress weeds, they make wheeling the barrow really easy, I can walk around the allotment in wet weather without getting my shoes dirty and I can clean the paths with a garden brush really easily.

I have collected the slabs over the years at my old allotment so I have more than enough to make the paths.

I have made the main path between allotment two and allotment 3A because this will lead to the shed.  The path will continue along the hedge to the small shed, which was a toilet and will probably be one again when I have constructed or inherited a shed for my tools.  Another path will go from the hedge path to the greenhouse - about 24 feet.  So three paths are all I need allowing the rest of the allotment to be growing areas.

In order not to waste topsoil underneath the slabs, I have thrown it up on the growing areas and replaced this good soil with subsoil dug from the bottom of digging trenches and stones sieved from the top soil.   As the subsoil is very clay like, the subsoil foundations for the paths are becoming rock hard and an ideal surface to lay slabs onto.

I have given up one half of the old allotment and am slowly dismantling it.  I took out the path to the tap and the slab curbing and took the slabs to the new allotment.  As I was leaving the 2' 6'' slabs, I eventually took thirteen slabs to the new allotment today.  The 2' 6'' slabs are too heavy to maneuver easily so rather than injure myself they will have to be left in situ for someone younger and dafter to deal with.

I need to add more subsoil foundation to the main path because it is a little low where the new slabs will be laid, so I left the slabs on the allotment next to the trackway.  Either I will 'walk' the slabs down to the work area or wheelbarrow them down.  I will get the subsoil from the new trench I am digging in allotment 3A and replace the subsoil with shredded woody material.

I am going to have a comfrey bed at the front of allotment 3A so I am not adding any compost or fertiliser to this topsoil.  I want the comfrey to throw down  long roots and tap the nutrients deep in the soil.  Their roots will grow into the shredded material with little or no detriment particularly as it will be at least two spits down.

In order to remove most of the bindweed and mare's tail, it is easier to sieve the top soil than try to pick out the perennial weeds with a fork.  So I am sieving into the wheelbarrow at the moment and putting the top soil on a carpet away from the pernicious weeds. I will put this top soil back into the trench after adding shredded material to the trench and covering with a thin layer of subsoil.

I will continue to lay the two foot slabs on Friday because tomorrow I am going to do the garden at home.  I will mow the lawns and prune back some of the shrubs.  This will mean that I will need somewhere to put the prunings and mowings at the new allotment.  I have an empty Dalek compost bin at the old allotment  and this would be ideal to bring to the new allotment for the garden green waste.  

Another reason for completing the main path is to give me an edge with curbing from which to measure drills for the root seeds.  I want to sow 3 or 4 rows of carrots next to the path and I am waiting until the path is finished before I start on this job.  I will need to bring the wire supports and the fine, enviromesh netting from the old allotment to cover the carrots against Chamaepsila rosae,carrot root fly.  When I have done this I will be able to measure out where the drills for parsnips and beetroot will go.

I usually sow my parsnips during March but this year they will be a little late.  I expect I will still get too many to eat and have to give away many, as I did this year.

The other side of this bed will be for leafy vegetables and I will be planting the Sanguisorba minor, salad burnet.  I did not realise that it was a perennial until last year and was religiously resowing every year.  This year, I have kept the plants.  I have also brought the chrysanthemums from the old allotment and will palnt them in the new allotment where there is some space.  I will just let them grow this year and not try to get very large blooms.

I have taken all of last year's comfrey liquid to the new allotment and drained out the comfrey tubs.  I will clean them and take them down to the new allotment.  They are up on pedicels so that a watering can or tub can fit under the tap.  The pedicels are made from slabs and bricks stacked on top of each other and will easily be dismantled and taken to the new allotment.  I am going to put both tubs next to the little shed where there is just enough space for them.    

So, today was a backwards and forwards day; carting a load of stuff.          

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Planting out the sweet peas.

Although they were not very big, I decided to plant out the sweet peas  at the allotment regardless.  I had the cane supports already constructed so it only involved knocking them out of the root trainers and putting them into planting holes.  Before I put them out, blood, fish and bone was scattered along the rows and watered in with comfrey liquid.  This, together with the green manure already dug in, would give the sweet pea plants plenty of nutrients for good growth now that the temperatures are beginning to climb.  I put some mychorrhizal fungi in the planting holes of some of the plants to encourage a symbiosis and possibly enhanced growth and flowering.

I did not have as many plants as I had expected because some had been eaten by slugs and snails when they were hardening off on the patio at home.  However, I got five rows of fifteen fairly healthy plants with seven different varieties.  This year I put the name of the variety onto a plant label and tied them to a cane at the beginning of the row so that I would remember which was where.  When the label had just been put  into the ground at the beginning of each row, I was constantly losing them or mixing them up.

The left over double line of canes will be used for the Pisum sativum 'Alderman' and the other tall, climbing peas.  I will cover the canes with old netting and let the peas scramble up.  Doing this, it produced a good crop of peas last year.

In order to keep the rows looking acceptable, I went along each path forking the soil to erase my footprints. I'm not sure whether I will do this every time but it will help to keep weeds from growing on the paths.

I have labelled most of the fruit trees and bushes now.  I have two Malus domesticus  'Discovery'; Malus domesticus 'Egremont Russet' which I grafted myself; Malus domesticus 'Ribston pippin'; a Malus domesticus 'Cox's Orange Pippin'; two Pyrus communis unknown varieties; Pyrus communis 'Doyenne du Comice'; Prunus domestica 'Opal'; Prunus domestica 'Victoria'; a black fruited Vitis vinifera and a white fruited Vitis vinifera unknown varieties; Rubus fruticosa 'Adriene'; Rubus x loganobaccus; Ribes idaeus 'Xania' which is a red desert gooseberry and Ribes idaeus unknow green variety.

Two of the three grafts I made using the M9 rootstock and the 'Ribston Pippin' during March seem to be taking and the buds swelling.  However, I would like to see more growth movement before I admit success.

Most of the top fruit is being grown as espaliers.  This enables me to fit all the trees into the allotment, divides the beds as a partition to enable easy rotation,  increases my skill in pruning to espalier shape,  produces fruit where it is easily harvested and does not produce an overwhelming number of fruit.

Two 15 foot lines of broad beans have been planted in the peas and beans bed. One line of Vicia faba 'Bunyards Exhibition' and one line of Vicia faba a black podded field bean.  I don't really like broad beans to eat but it gives me another vegetable to sample now and again.  I will also grow these for seed and use them to grow plants as a green manure to cover the ground during next winter.

Three lines of Pisum sativum 'Douce Provence'  were planted alongside the broad beans.  I have surrounded the peas with chicken wire mesh primarily for the peas to climb up, however this has also made a particularly good barrier against the pigeons which seem to have a particular penchant for pea foliage.   I put some concrete reinforcing wire at the ends of the rows to give the chicken wire some shape and strength. Surrounding with chicken wire makes weeding a little more difficult but is worthwhile because it gives me a higher yield of peas.  The pea plants grow more upright and the flowers are more exposed for insects to pollinate.

When these legumes have been harvested, I will dig them into the soil.  The extra nitrogen that they have fixed with the help of root nodule bacteria will also be added to increase the fertility of the soil.  If the legumes are moved as part of the allotment rotation, the next crop can take advantage of  this fixed nitrogen.

I did not add any blood, fish and bone to the rows of broad beans and peas because I had added rock dust and blood, fish and bone when sieve double digging earlier in the year.  This base dressing of fertiliser should be enough for the legumes.  Hopefully, they will fix their own nitrogen using nitrogen fixing bacteria in root nodules.  I did add a little mychorrhiza to some of the broad bean and pea plants to encourage symbiosis.

I need to bring some more two foot slabs from the old allotment to finish off the path down the side of the allotment.  This will enable me to put the curbing in; which involves digging deep holes alongside the path.  I cannot sow any of the 'root' seeds until I have completed this and levelled the soil.

I have started to dig allotment 3A now.  I am only going to use this area to plant comfrey so I am not digging very deep or with as much care as allotment 2.  I am taking all the bindweed and mare's tail out carefully because I do not want to be tackling this during the summer.  Hopefully, the comfrey will grow large and healthily and shade out any weeds that try to grow between it.