Thursday, April 17, 2008

Sunday 13th April 2008 - Weather: sunny the cold, then wet, then sunny, then windy, then hail, then big rain!

At last, I got to spend some quality time at the allotment. Got up bright and early and was on site by 8am and the sun was shining and all was well with the world. The plan for today, get last years seed area on plot number 2 dug and prepared for the brassicas that will be arriving from my greenhouse in about 3 weeks time.

The plot was incredibly noisy and thinking about it, I could have probably recorded the deafening noise on the camera but at the time I just listened happily. The birds were everywhere and honestly, they were all shouting at the top of their beaks! Even the woodpeckers seemed to be out in force sending morse code messages all over the trees. I love the location of our allotment because it is in a very rural location with a farmers field one side, private huge gardens at each end and a dirt track lane the other side. It is very peaceful with the occasional rambler or horserider using the lane and the distant chug of the tractor in the field. It is just lovely.

Anyhow, I digress. I dug and dug and forked and weeded for hours until I was bored rigid, so I decided to sort out the compost heap for this coming year. I have always just had one big heap which I pile up during the spring, summer and autumn, then in the winter and early spring I pull off all the chunky, not rotted stuff at the top, use the compost then fling the chunky stuff back in and start filling it again. So, the plan for this year is to divide the heap into 2 halves, which I did with a pallet, and have one half filling, and at the moment, one half full of useable compost. Once all the compost is gone I guess I will cover the other heap with some carpet or sacking and start filling the empty area. This is the plan anyhow. Plenty of black gold to enrich my plot and I plan to use it on the squash bed and around my sweetcorn. I never produce enough to cover both allotments, so in the same way I rotate my crops, I also rotate my compost adding it to different areas. I also have leaf mould at home in sacks which needs to go to the plot and I will use this to mulch my brassicas I think.

From the heap I went back to plot number 2 and finished off the digging. In the bed nearest the onions, which I must say are coming on strong, thanks to the lovely Growmore who sent them to me, I needed to plant my broadbeans. This is the first year ever I have grown an abundance of a variety called Express. I seem to loose lots every year to furry and feathered critters, so this year I have planted them in a sunny, more exposed spot as nobody else seems to have this problem. I may use net later in the season, but we shall see. I forked a couple of barrows of my compost into this bed, and then the torrential rain came down. But, I had started the job, so I got on with it. Planted my lovely broadies, and mother nature watered them in for me. I also planted some sweetpeas up a few of my runner bean canes. I am hoping to grow them up and get some really lovely long stemmed blooms for the summer show.

Before I left for the day, having been on the plot for a fab 6 hours, I sprinkled some lime over the soon to be brassica beds. The weather should have worked this into the soil and I will use more when I plant them out in a checkerboard fashion like Tee Gee from a4all once showed us. This helps deter the slugs, resist clubroot and give the brassicas a tasty treat.

Back home, as you can see, I hope....the greenhouse is bulging. I have a mass of brassica's, tomatos, chillis, peppers, aubergines, flowers, lettuce, chard, onions, sweetcorn and squashes already growing like mad and I have so much still to sow, and so little room! I am pricking the brassicas and chards out and hardening them up like crazy to make more space for the more tender plants and the seed trays. Must not fall behind with my sowing this year!

Can't put on pics at the moment so will add them later. Bugger!


Greenmantle said...

Whilst it may seem like extra work, the best way to manage two compost bays, is not to let one fill right up, but regulary fork it across into the other one. This turns the chunky stuff to the bottom, and more importantly lets the air in.(You can also give it a sprinkle of water as you go along,if it seems overyl dry)

Continue adding waste to the top off it, then after a while, fork it all back again.

If you normally fill more than one bay a year, then you need a third one so there is always one free to move stuff into.

It might seem a bind, turning it every every 6 weeks or so, but it does make for much better compost in the end.



Emma Jane said...

Thanks for the advice GM. I would love a third bay but where to put it? I may have to move the waterbut over and extend the downpipe from the thinks this is a job for the old man!