This weekend I made a start at clearing my new ultra weedy allotment.
I’ve been formulating a plan over the past few weeks, which is aimed at removing the need to go hammer and tong at the plot over the winter.
With the little ‘un and my kitchen garden, time is of the essence so I’m looking to execute a plan which avoids manuring and digging in this winter but still allows me to grow next year.
I’m dividing the plot into quarters and will be growing fruit and veg which either don’t require rich soil or can have organic matter incorporated during planting.
The plot measures 16ft x 16ft, so by dividing into quarters I’ll have 4 beds at 8ft square. I’ve been playing around with growing positions on Grow Veg, and here’s what I’ve got in mind:
Quarter 1 – Fruit
The bottom left (pictured), or Quarter 1 is going to be my fruit bed and home to gooseberries, blackcurrant, blackberry, rhubarb, and raspberries.
Prior to planting, I’ll add manure by shovelling some down the hole I’ve dug for the bush or cane. This means I can get cracking on the bed at any point between the dormant season (between now and March).
Quarter 2 – Squashes
On my old allotment, I often grew squashes in soil that hasn’t been manured for a season. This was mainly due to my rubbish crop rotation plan, but using a planting method my mum taught me it was never a problem.
Like the fruit, I added the manure while planting out. Providing the manure was well-rotted, I always got good crops. As long as I clearly mark where the plant is with a stick, I will be able to concentrate watering around the root and the recess will keep the moisture there.
Quarters 3 and 4
This half of the plot will be long rows of low maintenance vegetables such as potatoes, onions, garlic, beetroot, chard, and kale. None of these vegetables are particularly demanding of the soil, so I reckon they’ll grow fine without manuring.
I’m also going to grow leeks here – they require more humus in the soil, but we’ll chuck a row in and see what happens. As my mum says, ‘they’ve got two choices’.
With the pressure to get everything cleared for a winter’s muck topping reduced, I can do little and often, when I get the time. If I do get sections clear quicker than I intended, I can manure then, but if not I’ll just fall back on my original plan.
Once 2014’s growing season is over, I can look to do proper manure on any bits that I missed out (or the whole lot!).
What I’ve cleared so far is encouraging. The soil underneath the weeds looks nice and crumbly, even after all this rain. Oddly there are hardly any stones compared to my previous allotment, just a couple of hundred yards away.
Now that bodes well for parsnips and carrots, which I’ve left out…
Ah. Best get back to that plan…