I’ve been keeping a written diary of my work in the garden this year, which is going to be a great reference, but it was lacking something – photographs! Colour! So, now I have a blog.. I’m a complete novice at allotmenteering, gardening “properly” and following rules, etc but I’m giving it a go – all in the name of “free” fresh flowers. Because nothing’s really free, even if you do grow it yourself!!
I got my allotment in August last year, hot, dry, grassy, and weedy. The previous tenant had had it for 3-5 years and had planted 4 fruit trees and a vine, and a large shed – that he took with him when he left. He’d sprayed weedkiller everywhere and had the plot rotovated each year, but that was it. So the soil wasn’t every good, the clay had got solid and the grass and weeds were having a field day! Unfortunately I don’t have any photos of what it looked like back then. I’m sure I took some, but they’re gone.
I have to admit the first order of business for me was to tackle that grass and the weeds, so I asked one of the lovely old chaps to spray all the growth for me, and once it had all died down, the allotment rep got his heavy-duty rotovator out and dug it all through.
I had just got some beds laid out when I found out I was needed halfway around the world by my parents. Quickly I shoved (quite literally) in the plants I’d started buying before flying out at the beginning of September, not to return until mid December! January was pretty much a washout – so wet and muddy. My plot is right on a riverbank, so I benefit from lots of good old-fashioned clay – and pebbles. The kind that wedge themselves in the tines of your fork when you’re trying to dig over a bed.
What I should have done back in September, or even in December once I’d got back to sunny England, is to have got some mushroom compost and covered everything in it. The rain, frost and earthworms would have ensured the nutrients got into the soil and that would have been good for this time of year. Lesson learnt.
Weeding the plot became the important thing to do once the weather started warming up in March. I also decided the original plan – layout wasn’t going to be achievable, so I scribbled out new ones, along with making long lists of plants I’d love to grow. Then chopping those lists drastically when I saw how much it would cost… The only task on the allotment that I could do that showed immediate results was to widen one of the paths between me and a neighbour. It was a perilously narrow 20cm, perfect for losing control of a wheelbarrow on the way to the bonfire heap and dropping the contents unceremoniously on my plot… Now it’s a much more salubrious half a metre, far better for walking on.
The fruit trees started to blossom and the vine needed to be pruned, hard! I chopped quite liberally with a friend, who said she knew what she was doing. It seems to have paid off, because there are loads of fresh shoots now. The trees have been identified as one peach, two apples (different sorts) and a plum. Varieties? No idea!!
Click on the individual images to get a better picture. If anyone out there can identify my trees from these photos, I’d be very grateful!