Allotment 41 #5 January 2020
An Allotment Review
Okay so 2019 wasn’t the most productive year on the allotment. Although it was still my first year and not a full four seasons at that. I forgive myself.
Time therefore to take stock, be honest with myself and learn from the past so that I may have a chance at least to improve in 2020.
The allotment site itself was covered in couch grass (aka Elymus repens), not an easy bed fellow to shift. The roots are actually rhizomes which means when they are severed, each section can grow into a new plant, a veritable Hydra from Greek mythology in plant form. So rotivating was certainly out of the question. I’m a fan of the teachings of Charles Dowding and the ‘No-Dig’ method anyway (see below). Although digging and pulling out the couch was really a decision formed out of impatience. ‘No-Dig’ you see, relies upon the use of additional compost, sometimes over a cardboard layer to suppress established weeds and get things started. So I decided on a compromise. I’ll dig most of it now to get the unwanted plants out, and focus on the no-dig method when it’s all planted up, because I can’t afford to buy compost at the moment, and I’m just too impatient to wait until I can make enough to cover the allotment. There’s no point renting an allotment if I’m not going to use it, perfection will just have to wait.
A Plan of Actions
Having worked on allotments here and there over previous years, I had plans and some experience. It’s just that the plan was a bit unplanned and reactionary. Allotment time became one of opportunity instead of commitment. Hoping that nature would do its magic and take care of my neglect. The most important fact about maintaining an allotment that I ignored, was that allotment sites are mostly contrived and regulated. The last thing you want to happen is for nature to take its course. That would amount to anarchy. Allotments are regimented and composed, they have a purpose, to produce crops. Achieving this requires knowledge, planning, will power and commitment. My humble five rods should be the front line of organic goodness. and nature is more than welcome, under guidance.
Drought and more doubt.
With the blistering summer months and considerable neglect, my dreams of a Christmas dining table groaning under the weight of home grown organic veggies, were mere wisps. One swede and a cabbage were presented with shameful pride at the feast of Morrisons, taking a supporting role to the leading saver own brand range. Changes have to be made in 2020.
The future of Allotment 41
I have learnt that nature should not be taken for granted, but I understood that all along, or so I thought. Allotments need commitment and attention, rain or shine and a documented plan of action.
I visited the site this morning. The soil was sodden and claggy but the garlic and onions looked encouraging still. The bath tub was half full of rain water and the new strawberry bed had settled following my last visit, but looked a lot smaller than I remembered. Again, snap shots of ideas and intensions formed as I walked around. 1st earlies here, hardy peas there, squash follows peas, 2nd earlies, carrots, radishes and beets. Then I remembered the plan, hadn’t even been started.
Perhaps a walk around the lottie neibourhood would reassure me. Taking in the other plots around the site I could see that I hadn’t been the only one to visit in recent days, although these hardy traditional gardeners are diggers, turning over that precious micro-ecosystem in preparation for the first potato sowing and combing around the over wintering broad beans. These beds are perfectly dark brown and levelled, called to attention by double dig spade and boot. No one else with onions or garlic that I can make out, which is odd. Some allotments look damaged and abandoned, except for the pruned fruit canes and new shoots emerging from the cleared rhubarb stumps. Remains of autumn crops rotting on talks and canes. Exposed metal poles and crooked wire, the front line remains of summer fruiting vines, I felt quite envious.
The review visit did its job and the plan, is to plan ahead. Properly this time.
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