Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Plot Planning for 2013

Unfortunately the weather recently has meant I have been unable to do anything on the allotment. No snow, just lots of rain. Well, that isn't entirely true - last thursday was a lovely day, sunny, cold and crisp but I spent that having a walk at Golitha Falls. I had a great day but I did keep thinking about what I would be able to achieve at the allotment on my other day off (the friday). Well friday was a washout so I sat down, got out paper, pencils and a ruler (I haven't used one of those in years) and made a plan of the plot.

I had previously managed to get up the allotment and measure it boundaries, I tried to be as accurate as I could but the measurements are approximate - and possibly unreliable! Here is a basic plan of the plot in 2012:

Plot A2 2012
c = Compost (this has not been made yet)
p = Patio (this has not been made yet)
1 = Roots
2 = Brassicas
3 = Legumes
4 = Potatoes

Working on the plot this year I realised that the beds were too big. To weed successfully I had to walk on the soil, compacting it. I really want to be able to reach every part of the bed from the paths. After reading some books I decided when re-planning the plot the bed widths to be 1.2metres, which would mean this should be easily achieved. In the literature it is recommended pathways to be 60cm wide with at least one main path 90cm in width. I have included these recommendations in my plan, it does mean some growing space shall be lost on what is already a small allotment but I hope that the beds will be far easier to manage this way and by growing in blocks rather than rows i  can cram in more plants to keep up yields.

Here is the first plan for 2013:

Plot A2 2013?

The 'path' at the top of the plot will be the main path at 90 cm in width. Behind that is a hedge which runs between the allotment site and the road. There are quite a lot of roots from the various plants in the hedge that so it makes sense to increase the path size here and have it run the length of the beds.

The beds are not all exactly 1.2m in width, 1 is slightly smaller, this is just to fit them all in.
With rotation in mind here is what the beds will contain in 2014:
1 = Potatoes
2 = Potatoes
3 = Potatoes
4 = Onions & Roots
5 = Onions & Roots
6 = Brassicas
7 = Brassicas / Legumes
8 = Legumes

To enable a fairly even square metre per bed, 7 shall be split in half.

We put up a shed on the plot last year which does need a thorough tidy and organising! To the right of the shed I plan to have a compost area, at the moment it actually looks like a thriving Ground elder bed. Hopefully I will be able acquire some pallets to build a couple of compost bins, failing that I do already have a black plastic up-turned dustbin style compost bin.

 To the left of the shed I hope to have a small patio area which will be approximately 2m in width. As I currently live in a flat with no outside space it would be nice to have somewhere to go and sit on a sunny day and have a cup of  tea.

Fence! The plot is very exposed and gets extremely windy up there. My dad has already bought some fence posts and a fairly strong plastic mesh type fencing in a role. Hopefully we shall get this up when he returns from holiday. Nearly all the plots on the site have some sort of fencing around them, some have more than one! The allotment secretary reckons it is a must have.

I am counting on my days off this week being much better weather wise. I really want to start on rearranging the beds and digging them over. The hope is, with smaller beds they be easier to manage and what is grown may actually be half decent.

Now my attention turns to what veg to grow in 2013. I think I need to be realistic and not get too carried away with seed buying. Block growing will enable me to cram as much in as possible but I feel space is going to be at a premium on plot A2...

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

2012 - A brief overview

This post should give you a brief understanding of what happened to Plot A2 last year. Most likely no correct procedures were followed (I don't know what I am doing!). Even so there has been, and still is, edible veg produced - some of it very nice too. There has also been some absolute failures - carrots and peas that didn't germinate at all, onions and garlic that grew some nice foliage but then had nothing under the soil, celery that stayed alive after planting but didn't grow, amongst others...

Anyway, here is that brief overview I was talking about.

Plot A2 was taken over by myself and my parents on February 2012. We (well *they*) also took over the adjacent plot A1.

We are located on the North Cornwall coast, a couple of miles up from the beach. This is a lovely location and makes for some nice views but it also means it is very exposed and subject to some extremely strong winds!

Plot A2 is a 'half plot' and triangular in shape, although it isn't a full sized plot it isn't actually a 50% reduction in size but it does mean a 50% reduction in rent! Plot A1 is full size. The idea would be for A2 to eventually be my allotment and A1 my parents. When we took them over they were barely detectable as separate growing spaces and pretty much just grassed over.
Let the digging commence!

I was doing shift work abroad at the time and had to fly out just as we had taken ownership, so my hard working parents began the tiring task of digging them over and (trying to) dispose of all the perennial weed roots. Plot A2 would be done first as it is smaller and therefore looked a more manageable task! So for 2012 it would be a joint effort on A2(although they did most of the work!) and 2013 would see myself take charge.

A2 was dug over one bed at a time. When a bed had been finished it was planted up with some seedlings that had been raised in a greenhouse by my parents and other plug plants bought from a local garden centre. Apart from where the potatoes were planted there was no addition of organic matter but a scattering of chicken pellet fertiliser to try and give the plants a fighting chance.

A very basic planting scheme was undertaken to assist rotation in the future. Starting from the point where a shed would eventually be placed four beds were created. Which in 2012 went something like this:
1 - Roots
2 - Brassicas
3 - Legumes
4 - Potatoes
The plan was loosely followed - onions and garlic ended up in the potato bed as it was the first to be dug over. But it was a little bit of forward planning (which is good) which is probably going to get chopped around a bit by me this year (which was inevitable).

Once A2 was finished being dug over and planted up A1 was started on, but I won't go into that here as this blog is about A2 - it has had a shed erected on it and has a proposed patio, therefore far more important!

Overall I would say 2012 has been a success. My parents have previous experience growing vegetables in their garden and greenhouse and were able to produce some lovely tasting produce which we are still harvesting and enjoying. 2013 sees A2 transferring into my name and solely my responsibility which I find very exciting. It could be an interesting year as I am probably entirely incapable but hopefully it will be fun what ever the outcome.

Soon there will be a post with the plans for 2013. I am planning on doing a little rearranging of the allotment; reducing bed size, making more beds and more paths. Adding a fence, small patio, compost heap etc... Until then here is a couple of photos of A2 as of the 18th of January 2013.

Looks a bit like an allotment?

View from the shed. Plot A1 can also be seen

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The First Post.

Hello! This is the first post in what I hope will be a record of all the things happening on my allotment, Plot A2.

I am a novice gardener. So I am afraid there will be no advice offered here, but hopefully a few observations and notes on the successes and (what I am sure will be many) failures. The inspiration behind starting 'Tales From Plot A2' is this post on the fantastic blog Real Men Sow. There are so many great gardening blogs out there with lots of great advice for us beginners. But I think what they do best is offer up lots of motivation and enthusiasm to get outside and get gardening.

I acquired Plot A2 as a joint venture with my parents last year. I didn't really have a lot to do with the digging over or growing in 2012 - apart from some cut and come again salad which did brilliantly - This year it is under my care (my parents do have the adjacent allotment - A1). It is not quite a full sized plot, rent wise it is a half, but it should be more than adequate to get me started in veg growing. I will hopefully write a follow up post later in the week with a bit more detail on Plot A2 which will include a sum up of 2012 and plans for 2013 + some photos.

A word of warning... I am not a writer and have never written a blog before. Hopefully you won't find the writing style here too awkward and you may even stick around.