Thursday, 28 March 2013

March Soon Disappears

My last post was 20 days ago (as I write this). In it I stated a number of aims that would be completed on the allotment during my week off work. Well, not all were completed (I am blaming the weather) but good progress was made.

The first task that was completed was putting up a fence around the plot. It surrounds both plot A2 and my parents plot A1. We used fairly sturdy fence posts purchased from Mole Valley. We laid them on the ground and figured about one post length would be an ideal spacing between them, a post driver was used to bash them in. This was quite a difficult task to accomplish on the first day for a couple of reasons, the first being that the ground was frozen and the second our general incompetence. Despite these two set backs we managed to get quite a few in, maybe they were not perfectly straight but as we kept reminding ourselves "it's only an allotment!" 

One at a time

The second day we continued installing the fence posts with much greater success. This was because the sun was out and the ground no longer frozen! Also another chap on the allotment site had taken pity on us and kindly lent us a post level to use. We had actually been using a level, not that you would have realised, but using the post level made it so much easier. Even so, one particular post went in so wonky I wasn't happy and tried to remove it from the ground with disastrous consequences. 

I think it's broken

Unfortunately at the start of the day we only had just enough fence posts to complete the job. A quick drive to Mole Valley and back...

They are straight. It's your eyes that are wonky 

For in between the fence posts we had a roll of plastic with fairly small holes in it. I really don't know what you would call the stuff, but it seems pretty popular with other plot holders. If it is good enough for them...

Plastic fence stuff. Wire, staples, hammer

The plastic would be attached to the fence posts with staples. A wire was then attached over the top to try and keep the whole thing as sturdy as possible. No fancy wire tensioning tools were used, just me trying to pull on it as hard as I could while a staple was banged in. We then stood back admired our handy work and prayed the whole thing won't get blown down during the first strong winds

The fence

As you can see from the above photo the fence goes around the perimeter of the two allotments. It is a very exposed site and I feel another fence in between plot A1 and A2 is going to be required. Otherwise my plot is still going to get a battering and it would be nice anyway to have a divide between the two. 

After the fence was erected our attention turned to the patio. This was to go in front of the shed to provide a nice area to sit out and relax in the sun. I had allowed an area about 2m square, but due to the slab sizes it is a bit smaller than that. The slabs were to be placed directly on the soil, using sand probably would have helped but I didn't want to buy any and it's only and allotment! The area was dug over then raked as level as possible judging by eye. Whether this was any help what so ever I am unsure. The ground was quite wet and when laying the slabs we were walking all over the soil making it very un-even. However, over the course of 2 very cold and slightly wet (half) days we managed to lay the patio. Unfortunately I failed to remember to take any photos, but I am sure you can imagine what it would look like. Nevertheless, I promise I shall take a snap and post it soon.

Another task which I said would be completed was creating and digging over the new narrow beds. Unfortunately this is yet to be finished but has been started. The old path created from stones dug out of the beds has been removed and the first 4 narrow beds created and dug over. 

The old stone path - my knees loved it

There are so many stones in the soil! It amazes me really. No matter how many are removed, after a few days it looks like none were. Do stones breed? Where do they come from?

The above photo was taken standing on the fantastic new patio and shows the 4 narrow beds ready for the year ahead. There are still some leeks remaining and some purple sprouting (with no sprouts) which will soon make way. I am hoping to put something down on the paths - like after the first bed in the photo. Carpet and old lino off cuts have been scrounged from work for this but possibly more needed. I think it will look better than bare soil and also help to keep the weeds down.

So that is kind of where Plot A2 is up to. March seems to have flown by! 

Friday, 8 March 2013

The Coming Week...

Recently things have been fairly slow up at Plot A2. A combination of work, bad weather and visiting friends/ family have kept me away. There are still harvests to be had; leeks, kale, cabbage, parsnips and turnip. However the kale is beginning to go to seed and the leeks will be gone soon. It really is time to put my efforts in getting everything prepared for the new growing season!

I am already further behind than I had wanted to be at this point. The good news is I have annual leave that needs to be taken, so next week has been booked off to put in some hard work up the plot. So hopefully by the end of next week there will be a post informing you of the phenomenal productiveness that is absolutely inevitable(!)*

The following tasks shall be accomplished:

  • Fence erected around the plot
  • Patio area created in front of shed
  • All new narrow beds created and dug over
  • All weeds will meet their end, even those on pathways 
  • A general tidy up so the plot looks better than the neighbouring plot
Hopefully there will also be time to begin sowing. I'll be borrowing space on my parents south facing window sill (if there is any space left). Failing that I may have to chance it in their unheated greenhouse or maybe wait a little longer.

* May depend on the weather and alcohol consumption/ laziness of the author.