Real Men Sow

A Patch from Scratch: What I’ve Learned So Far

It has taken me 2 months, but I’ve now got clear patch weeded, dug and raked, ready for good dump of manure.

There is endless satisfaction to come from growing veg, but standing back and inspected a freshly dug bed must be as good a feeling as anything I successfully cultivate.

I also thought I’d assembled a fair amount of GYO knowledge from the past 5 years allotmenteering, but the Patch from Scratch is providing me whole new sets of puzzlers and wisdom.

Carpet keeps the weeds down on your dug bit while you take care of the rest.
Digging my patch over has been a slow process so far, fitting in sessions around work, holidays, bike rides, the allotment and life in general. I’ve been grabbing my spade when I can, but there has been some time between starting a finishing.

I covered each finished section in carpet and tarpaulin, and this has worked wonders keeping the weeds down. It has meant I can take my time over the patch without having to worry that the weeds are going to keep coming back if I don’t get the whole area done.

A blank canvas sometimes gives you too many options!
I feel like a big, bare patch is good for the brain. There are so many things I can do and lots of different conundrums to ponder that, as Alan from It’s Not Work, it’s Gardening said on a recent post, a blank canvas can sometimes give you too many options.

I’m finding a kitchen garden scenario a very different challenge than my allotment, where in the main the beds were already marked out for me and had successfully held fruit and veg for years. My garden patch is different – the area is not open and in full sun all the time, for example, and I’m needing to keep a close eye on the environment to make sure I grow my fruit and veg in the right places.

Little and often maintains the motivation
Over the last couple of years, I’ve got into the habit of leaving everything on the allotment to do in big sessions. I’ll often spend a whole Saturday afternoon down there, doing all the jobs for the week. I’ve got to confess that this has become a drag at times, especially when I’ve wanted to go and do other hobbies.

In order not to get bogged down with digging and clearing overload, I’ve been making a point of working little and often, and its been working really well for me. I’ve found that I there even jobs I can get done in 15 minutes while the dinner is cooking, and this feeling of achievement is great for morale.

There is always something to be done!
Starting from scratch is like being out of routine. I can work my allotment pretty efficiently, as experience has taught me when jobs need doing instinctively. With a new growing area, I’m out of kilter, and reading and researching has made me realise there is always something that needs doing.

Even now, I need to prepare my rhubarb, raspberry and strawberry area. I’ve bought myself a diary, which I’m writing all the jobs I need to do to the week. Its going to be my bible, and hopefully keep me organised for the next year.

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One Comment

  1. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening!September 24, 2012 at 6:50 pmReply

    I agree with the satisfaction in a freshly dug bed — just did that myself on a smaller scale this past weekend, and it’s such a nice feeling. It’s just bare soil, so I wonder why we feel that way about it?

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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