Allotment Review

Welcome February, the shortest month of the year which takes us straight into Spring. There are signs of life starting to show in the garden. Buds forming on the bare branches, green shoots daring to poke their way up through the cold ground. It’s building the excitement for the buzz and warmth of summer, when our little patch of land will be full of colour again.

I thought I would write up a little allotment review of where we are up to, at the beginning of 2018. The weather has been wet and windy with plenty of snow and ice which has hindered plot progress, but there have been glimpses of the sunshine and semi warmth to tease us with the awaited arrival of spring. I have tried my best to utilize these days and crack on with the plot build. So where are we at currently?

Structure and Layout 

I have roughly drawn out the plans of where the raised beds are being positioned on the plot. Seeing as last year was so busy (Marriage, buying a house, renovating house) we didn’t get a huge amount done, structurally. We have currently built four more raised beds, which have been (mostly) treated, ready for positioning and soil. This currently completes my beds for the four year crop rotation and extras. I’ve yet to finish preserving the wood of the raised beds. I’d like to get those done so I can fill with soil and cloche them. Paths are also something I am keen to crack on with, sooner rather than later, so I can gather up the tarpaulin we’ve been using as ground cover to deter the weeds. The only thing set to hold us back is the weather. Sleet is still forecast up here.

Most of the new beds before they had been treated

My greenhouse is currently still missing a few panes of glass, but they have been ordered, awaiting delivery and fitting. We did manage to get all the glass cleaned up the other weekend. I have been looking into greenhouse staging and potting tables. I’m keen to get something easy to maintain. I’m thinking of sticking with aluminium as it will be easier to wash down and won’t need treating with preservatives. Even if wood is more aesthetically pleasing! Also weighing up what to do with the floor.

The shed is another major structure awaiting work. The felt roof has been torn off in the bad weather. With the high winds we get and being on a high, exposed site things are prone to damage. The shed was second hand and came with the odd hole so I’d like those patching up. To make it a bit more cosy it would be nice to insulate it. Our community plot has a working wood stove! (I can dream right?)

The rhubarb from our garden got moved up to the plot, and it did really well, but ideally it should have been split last year. Well on a rare day when weather and husband collaborated we managed to get down to the plot and I’ve split my rhubarb (with the help of the husband) Yey! It has been replanted in to its new position. The original two raised beds are going to be used for crops not part of the four year rotation. So that means the rhubarb can occupy half of one alongside the pumpkin, which I’m hoping to put back in the same spot as last year (after adding more nourishment to the soil).

Last year we grew some epic pumpkins which C still talks about now. I think he was really proud of his contribution. He keeps asking to go to the allotment because he wants to plant. This makes me super happy, C can start those in the greenhouse around April, if he can wait that long. Some plants and salad can start to be sown in the greenhouse, so getting that up and running is a top priority.

I have autumn fruiting Raspberries that will be moved, they did OK last year in their temporary position. I’m hoping to move them in order to get more space to walk around the plant for harvesting and to be able to build a fruit cage over them. The strawberries will also be moved and added to in their own raised bed. A lot of my fruit bushes don’t seem to have done so well last year. My dwarf apple tree also didn’t fare well. It got moved in its pot from our old tiny garden to the plot, it also got damaged at some point and hasn’t recovered. I will be fruit tree shopping soon and planting them straight into the ground this time. Sometimes things just don’t work out and we go back to the drawing board.

2018 Plans
There is still a fair amount of structure to be built and assembled before we can start planting in spring. This is my to do list!

Build more raised beds,
Fix shed and re-felt the roof,
Evict spiders from shed if necessary,
Assemble shed storage,
Paint shed,
Build the stairs to the shed and balcony safety guards,
Assemble Green house shelving and potting bench,
Fix the water butt and attach guttering,
Plant fruit bushes,
Build a fruit cage,
Move Autumn Raspberries and strawberries,
Sow seeds in the greenhouse,
Buy top soil and fill beds,
Build the compost and manure containers,
Build pathways around the plot and on the plot,
Build sturdier perimeter fencing.

Quite a bit to be getting on with before I can really think about what varieties of veg and flowers i’d like to plant. Not that that has stopped me from purchasing seeds, but I think more Pumpkins is definitely on the list. This is roughly where we are up to on the plot (the greenhouse is looking cleaner and extra beds aside). It’s looking a little messy and in need of TLC. You can see from this post what I started with and how far it has come along though.

I also have my new front and back garden to contend with. Its got the same heavy boggy clay soil as the allotment. Which doesn’t make for good playing ground. So we need to have a good think about how best to make the most of what we have. The front garden will be mostly flower beds because its south facing. Garden renovation though is a completely separate blog post to come!

What plans do you have for the start of your 2018? Do you have an allotment or are you looking to start your own? I hope my ramblings can shine a little light into what it is like to start from scratch and upkeep a plot.

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