Ages ago I made a resolution to myself to write more frequently. When I read the blog through a little while ago, I was aghast at the gaps in time between posts. Mostly because, this is essentially a record for myself. And since there are huge gaps in my memory – it would have been useful to have a written record of the past however ghastly it is.
No matter. Now is as good a time as any to start again.
At the end of last week, Grant and I celebrated our first anniversary in our new home. While it’s taken a little while for us to prioritise exploring the area (and decorating!), we wasted little time in securing a plot in our local allotment.
The space is very precious to us because, as we live in a flat, we have no outdoor space attached to our abode. We were lucky enough to secure it quickly, and over the past year, have spent increasing amounts of time converting it to a workable space.
It was obviously important for us to be able convert space to growing herbs and plants, it was also somewhere for us to have an outdoor area to be able to sit and enjoy the sunshine. (I think they would draw the line at us taking our washing down there to dry sadly!)
So, on possession of our new plot, we re-established the raised beds that had been discarded and then weed suppress the rest until we had the time to turn it over properly. It was important to do so as the allotment was sprouting a healthy crop of bindweed and dandelions as well as other garden treats. If we could at least slow down the growth of the weeds, we could spend time making progress when we did get a chance to get there.
Slowly but surely we progressed. Planting the herb garden (to the right of the above picture) replanting strawberries salvaged from the previous allotment in Leatherhead. They sulked over the transplant yielding only one strawberry in 2016. This year they look very healthy and should do well (as long as we can get to them before the birds!)
We heavily pruned back the gooseberry bush in autumn last year and after much thought we turfed up the established summer raspberries and replanted with a mix of summer and autumn raspberries. It was a difficult decision since we haven’t got a massive budget for it. But the aforementioned weeds in the raspberry plot were so well established and bound around the canes it would have been impossible to clear it sufficiently. And now, from 2018 we should have raspberries from June through to the first frosts of the winter.
Then came the process of clearing all of the rubbish previously left on the plot. An old bench storage unit, oodles of knackered netting, stakes, pots and goodness knows what else all went to the tip. We re-used what we could and have saved other stuff like chicken wire for the future.
Last autumn we invested in two mini plastic ‘greenhouses’ half price in the sale. They slot against the fence nicely and give us a space to plant seeds. We are lucky to have a plot reasonably sheltered and (as my already developing comedy tan would testament to) a sun trap. The greenhouses are currently home to kale, cucumbers, courgettes, beet, broccoli, onions, sweet corn broad and French beans.
Left until last was the turning over of the weed suppressed area and building the runner bean support for use later in the year.
I’ve been doing a little bit of gardening work for a friend of mine in the last three months or so. I’ve learned a lot, mostly that the body can cope with quite a lot of physical activity. So although the soil is still reasonably heavy clay (Southwater was a village established on the industry of brick making) ten years of working it has loosened it up a lot. Happily the digging ended up being only a couple of full days. Followed by the erection of the bean poles and the marking out of the other beds around the already established onion, garlic and shallot beds.
So, only 11 months in we are done with the back breaking work and can settle down to nurture the plants and wildlife found on the plot…