Oh hello again nature
Whilst I enjoyed my time away in Boston and NYC immensely returning to the Shire and to the allotment was truly awesome. I'd only been away two weeks and the grass had shot up to about hip height I couldn't believe it!
Rather than get demoralised by it we got the strimmers out and cut it all back, I've laid the grass out on pallets in the sun to dry out, the hope is I will be able to use it for mulching the strawberries next year. It will probably have to be stored in the polytunnel over winter to keep it dry but that is a potential saving right there (I know hay isn't expensive but it's an experiment in recycling and re-purposing.... I'll let you know how it goes).
Here are a few more updates from the plot:
Neighbours become good friends?
No. Our plot neighbours are a pain in the arse, they haven't done anything on their side of the plot since May, the sad little broad beans they put in have been abandoned and the spinach they left in the plot is taller than me and has gone to seed (I look forward to having spinach pop up on our side of the plot next year then). It seems such a shame that there are people on the waiting list champing at the bit to get a plot and there are people like our plot neighbours who are stopping them from using the land to it's full advantage. If the council think they can claw back unprofitable allotment land due to lack of use they will and then we all lose out. (Rant over.)
The plot as the classroom
Every single year the plot teaches us what we can do better and how to manage what we grow a little more efficiently, this year has been no different. Here are a few things we have learnt:
- Strawberries: every year put a new plant or two in to ensure a continuous crop. We shoved some plants in three years ago they fruited wonderfully and we carried home bags and bags of strawberries to make into jam but of course the little plants have a three year fruiting life span. We've put new plants in this year but won't have the crop levels we've enjoyed in the past which is a real shame because in previous years we've made enough jam to see us through until the next strawberry season with enough to spare to give away as presents. Each year the plants will give off runners which will in turn form new plants we've had mixed success with these, I would recommend placing the runners in pots of compost whilst they're still attached to the mother plant, then when they're strong enough cutting them off and over wintering them in a polytunnel or greenhouse.
- Corn: I tried growing corn out on the plot the first couple of years we had an allotment and they just didn't fruit very well. This year however I thought I would give it one more try, of the nine seeds I tried to germinate only three made it but I've put them into the polytunnel and they seem to be doing well. Plant them close together so they can pollinate one another and water generously everyday if you can. I'll let you know how I get on with these...
- Hoe: The hoe is your best friend. Once you've done all of that back breaking work digging out weeds just spend ten minutes or so every single visit to the plot giving the soil a quick hoe to keep the weeds down, if you don't they'll come back in no time! Plus hoeing is a lot less effort than digging in the long run.
Do you ever have the feeling you're being watched?
I'm not a huge fan of anything slimey, or scaley so frogs and slow worms freak me out but I have to recognise the benefits of having them around the plot as they eat the slugs and snails that destroy our crops. I was in the polytunnel yesterday potting on our sunflowers, moved a bag of compost and had this little fella leap out at me, happily there was no one else in the polytunnel to hear the litany of uncouth language that poured out of me. I popped the bag of compost back and when I was watering the veg gave the patch I found him in a little sprinkle to encourage him to stick around.
Well I'm off to a car boot sale this afternoon, then a bit of time on the plot followed by an evening celebrating my friend's birthday. Not too shabby a Saturday, what are you up to this weekend?