Tuesday, 2 February 2016

Planning and plants for 2016 allotment

I have a six year rotation: flowers (sweet pea, chrysanthemum and dahlia);  
brassicas (including swede, radish and kohl rabi), 
peas/beans, (including asparagus pea)
roots (carrot, parsnip, salsify, hamburg parsley, and beetroot)  and leaves (leaves are lettuce, chard, perpetual spinach, celery, celeriac?,chamomile, tarragon, dill, rocket and good king Henry.)
onion family.
I also have a bed for three sisters, oca and cucumber.  
You can combine or leave out any of these.

 I always grow too much but I do like a variety. With an allotment you can grow things that you would have difficulty finding in the shops or would be very expensive to eat in the quantities the allotment allows -strawberries and raspberries for example.
As the beds are emptied of veg. you can sow a winter green manure of rye, tares and crimson clover. This can be dug in during the spring and then the ground can be used again for veg. I also dig in relatively fresh farmyard and horse manure.  

Spread out under raised beds or dug into the soil, I doubt that manure will heat up to any noticeable amount. There is no definition for "well rotted manure" and I think that most pundits just repeat; "only use well rotted manure" as a kind of mantra rather than a reasoned  piece of advice.  
 I think that there are a lot of misconceptions about how manure "burns" the roots. To make a sustainable hot bed you need a firm three foot high 3x6 foot pile of very fresh horse manure. This is made from manure straight out of the stables and turned every couple of days for a week or so. 

When the hot bed is made about four to six inches of top soil are added to the top of the pile and the frames put on.  If you make it really well, you need to leave the hot bed for a couple of days until the heat dies down and then you can plant or sow into the soil without any detriment to the plants
Some might say that horse and farmyard manure is rich in nutrient salts and this may cause the plant roots to loose water though osmosis but I have never in 50 years of gardening experienced this. I would definitely use freshish horse manure. If it is dug in now it will significantly break down by the time you are planting.

1 comment:

  1. Love the info on the hot beds, seems harder than I thought! I use inexpensive (flimsy) cold frames. Because I live in a mild (Zone 8) climate, I can get away with planting lettuce, onion, beets, carrots etc in these cold frames giving me a head start on Spring.
    If I can get these to mature and hvst. by May-I can plant a Summer crop of beans, tomatoes, melons, cukes, zucchini, pumpkin, corn and sweet potatoes in those spots. After that, I can put in a later crop of turnips, beets, sugar snap and shell peas etc....
    As you can see, I don't 'rotate' in the traditional sense as I intensely plant 2 or 3 crops in a single spot in a single year.
    My question is: Do you see any issues or pitfalls w/ this method that I need to look out for? (Only my 3rd year).
    Like you, we enjoy a variety of fruits and veggies but -never- seem to plant enough. Except lettuce-always give away lettuce. :) Thanks