For us, March marked the end of the bitterly cold and wet weather which has hampered our allotment activities. In brilliant sunshine we set out for the allotment ready to herald the arrival of spring … and the 2010 growing season.
David and I have different roles on our allotment. He takes care of maintenance issues such as fencing, and I am the designated digger and planter. Although we have no breaches in the fencing, we have noticed some serious rabbit activity on the plot. I don’t have too much of a problem with the bunnies munching their way through the last of the leek tops, but I wouldn’t be amused if this year’s plants suffered the same fate.
The weight of the winter snow has caused much of the chicken wire fencing to collapse . The existing fencing was in place when we took over the allotment in 2007, and we knew we’d have to do some repairs this season. Our little bob-tailed friends seem to be just hopping over from their home in the adjoining bank at meal times. Sadly for them, we’ve added a few new fence posts and some tensioned wire to solve the problem. Of course it will take a few weeks to complete, but the highest risk area has now been secured!
While David was hard at work on the fencing, I was focussed on making the beds ready for the spring planting. Because the beds are bordered by paths and never stood on, they don’t get compressed. This means they don’t need a lot of digging … always a bonus. We rotate the beds on a 3-year cycle and this dictates the preparation needed at the start of the season. The brassica beds are weeded and hoed, never dug. Brassica likes firm soil (or so we’re told), so digging the ground in the spring will put them at a disadvantage. We do lightly dig the legume and the root beds though, and this was my mission.
I’ve never actually got to grips with double digging (or bastard trenching as it used to be called). The layer of top soil on our plot is only about 12” deep, and double digging would simply take us into layers of impenetrable Cotswold stone. So all things considered, I got off quite lightly and, at the end of morning’s work, 4 of our 12 beds were ready for planting.
Our biggest March triumph has been our first batch of home-made compost! Now I have had compost bins before, but never have they had 3 years to ‘bake’. I was expecting to find it still full of fibrous material and was stunned to discover the compost was completely rotted … and quite perfect! The legume beds have had a liberal application, combined with those wonderful chicken poo pellets, which have produced great results in the past … as long as you can stomach the smell!
Meanwhile at home … the window ledges are full of pots and the module trays in the plant houses are keeping warm and safe, and we’re counting the days until our next relaxing spell on the allotment.