Saturday, February 25, 2006

Before the invention of the plough

Amy does some digging.

Rooting out trouble

Some years ago, our plot was reclaimed from a large thicket of brambles. The roots seem to be remarkably durable, as the ground is still packed with them.

We don’t seem to have too many other weeds in the soil, apart from odd patches of couch grass. This, apparently, means we are quite lucky.

Old Asparagus

The last plotholder left this. Is it asparagus plant?

We’ve decided to leave it where it is to see if we get a small crop this year.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Pine Needles

We had thrown out our Christmas tree at the appropriate time but Lewisham council were very lax and didn't take it away, even though Dan tried ringing their Christmas tree hotline and it just rang and rang! It sat there for a good few weeks. Then Amy found out from the internet that strawberries like acidic soil and one of the things that benefits them instead of a straw mulch is a pine needle mulch. So back in came the Christmas tree and Amy patiently stripped the pine tree of its needles. It took her well over a week to do it as she kept getting tired thumbs!

Manual labour

By the middle of February, we’d managed to dig over most of the plot, but because of the wet weather, we still had a few patches to go.

We put Amy’s mobile phone through the washing machine

After planting the raspberries and strawberries in the mud, we looked like we had been on a particularly innovative army training exercise, so the first thing we did when we got home was to put our clothes in the washing machine.

Unfortunately we forgot to check our pockets.

Miraculously, Amy’s phone can still make and receive calls, but the screen no longer works.

Here Amy dries out her phone by blowing on it.

Planting in the mud

We ordered some bare-rooted strawberry plants and raspberry canes, as they need to be planted while it’s still cold. Unfortunately bare-rooted plants will die if they aren’t put in the ground straight away, and it was pouring with rain all weekend.

So we planted them anyway, and got extremely muddy.

Improving the soil

Some of parts of the soil look like they’ll produce quite good crops, but other parts would look more at home in a pottery class. We need to add some organic matter to bulk it out. Unfortunately we didn’t have any, so we popped down to the garden centre to buy a few bags of compost.

Our friend Vivien very kindly helped us by bringing her car along, and pushing the wheelbarrow up the hill in high heels. Unfortunately she doesn’t enjoy having her photo taken.

Preparing the ground

One of our books tells us that the best thing to do, when you have a new allotment that’s a bit of a mess, is not to try to tackle it all in one go, or you will become disheartened – just get to grips with a small area, and get the land into shape gradually.

We think this is silly advice, and we’re going to dig over the whole thing as quickly as we can.

Monday, February 20, 2006

The allotment so far....

We got the alloment a few weeks ago and it didn't look like much to start with. There was a lot of old carpet covering the plot which had shed a lot of backing onto the soil. This wasn't too hard to pick up and the good thing is that it kept the soil warm and due to light deprivation, it killed all the weeds.

The allotment on our first day

It's half a plot which is about a 1000 sq feet which is plenty big enough for two people as a full plot is supposed to be able to feed a family of four.

The soil is like most London soil, very heavy in clay and on the first dig, it turned out that the fork and spade we had bought just wasn't cut out for it and they snapped and bent and we ended up having to take them back!

Dan did most of the hard work but I helped by breaking up the larger clods of earth.

As the first day was mainly spent getting to grips with the size of the plot and arranging our tools we didn't get much done but we did a lot more digging the next day.

We plan in total to have five beds. Four for vegetables and one fruit bed.

Welcome to our Allotment blog

Dear All,

This is going to be our blog charting the progress of our little allotment. We will post up regular pictures to let you know what's going on.