Right then, lets do this…

Apologies for the delay in getting this latest blog post published, but life has got in the way a bit lately.

As you saw in the previous post, the raised beds were now a much more manageable size for me which meant I could get cracking with the rest of the plot and start sowing some seeds.

From the beginning of March (2020) I set about landscaping the plot. This was partly prompted by the arrival of new allotment neighbours on the right hand side. Ignoring my own sage advice that there is no competition between plots, I felt embarrassed that parts of mine were not how I had envisaged them and I was convinced that any new allotment holders would take one look at mine and think it was a disgrace… Of course this is complete rubbish, but it did get me off my behind, and I set about getting my plot in order. First stop was the area that had become the dumping ground. (Unfortunately I have no photograph of it at its worst)

In this particular area of ground I had already planted strawberries in some raised beds and a square of lavender for the pollinators. The strawberries did not do well, having been nibbled at by, I assume, the resident rodents, be they large or small… I keep referring to rodents here and on my Instagram account because I am scared witless of them, but in reality I’ve only seen one mouse at the allotment that shot out of the shed (with me running ahead of it screaming) and I’ve never actually seen a rat, but I know there is one – because when we first took over the plot we had a downfall of snow and I saw some wildlife footprints that had a long thin trail behind it – you be the judge…

I digress. Back to 2020. The strawberries were relocated to our back garden and the lavender got re planted along the edge of the fruit cage. Rubbish got cleared and as you can see from the photos a new 3m x 1m raised bed was created. Two flower beds were created either side of the bench and I laid wood chip on the surrounding area. It looked clean, tidy, manageable and it gave me confidence that I could achieve the same with the rest of the plot. The photos that follow will show you the difference far better than I can describe it.

This corner will eventually hold the water butt
Looking to the left as you enter the plot. My allotment neighbour uses this path to get to his plot
Looking straight down the plot
Looking back up the plot

Now, unless you have been residing on another planet, it won’t have escaped your notice that 2020 has not turned out like many of us would have predicted while we were toasting in the New Year. Can you believe it, lock down hit us all the way back in March! These weird times became all the more real with restrictions on our movements and exercise and boy, was I glad we had the allotment then! I felt very privileged at having that space that I could go to, to work in, that gave me the opportunity to exercise, find solitude and a place to escape. I can’t now remember when the Council restricted our time on the plots, but they did, allowing us just one hour a day, but that was still better than nothing and I valued every minute of those hours.

At the beginning of March all gardeners and those that ‘grow their own’ are busy with their seeds both planning and sowing and I wasn’t going to fall into the trap of planting everything at the same time, I was going to stagger the seed sowing so I would have a succession of plants throughout the season. Ha! Well, I started well with the carrots, every 10 days sowing another line and dutifully noting the date so I could work out when they would be ready, but with everything else I got carried away and sowed pretty much every seed I had at once (Insert face palm emoji here!). I knew I wanted some more seeds so was planning on ordering some later in the month… then LOCK DOWN! The garden/growing industry was hit really hard and for a while nothing was moving. Eventually companies, like many others managed to get a reduced online service working, but it meant that the seeds and plants that were usually readily available were either non existent or arriving in pretty bad shape. Many of us were caught out by lock down, me included which meant I was panic buying… no, not toilet rolls, I panic bought broad bean and runner bean plants! There go my husband’s eyes 😉

It felt like each time the door bell went it was another delivery of runner beans. If you could actually make an order, the delivery was taking way longer than usual so it got to the point where I had long forgotten who I had ordered from and just kept going on line and clicking the ‘buy now’ button. It got so bad I ended up giving loads away! … more digression, back to the job in hand.

The seeds I did have, I nurtured into good health. I don’t have a greenhouse or poly tunnel so all my seedlings start life on windowsills and the kitchen floor. The little seedlings got planted into bigger pots when their size demanded it and towards the end of May they spent a fortnight being ‘hardened off’ – in other words getting used to the cooler temperature and harsher outdoor conditions. So during the day they would be out in their trays catching the sun and would then be brought back under cover during the night, tucked up under some horticultural fleece. – Growing veg doesn’t just happen, you know! 😉

A small sample of the many seedlings that invaded our home
Hardening off
Some very poorly broad bean plants sent through the post in lock down and treated with a lot of TLC they recovered enough to be planted out. They were never the best looking plants, but they did provide a harvest.

Once the risk of ground frost has passed (around about the end of May in this part of the world) it’s time to plant the now more mature plants into their final growing beds.

My next post will bring us right up to date and will cover the planting out in May to where we are now in September 2020.

Don’t forget, if you’re interested you can get these blog posts sent directly to your inbox by clicking on the ‘subscribe’ button at the bottom of the Home page and for more regular updates feel free to follow my Instagram account @my_perfect_plot

Happy growing 🙂

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