Wednesday, August 24, 2005

2005 New Year - New Start

Keeping an allotment Diary 2005

I started this blog in August 2005; so that my friends abroad could see how things were progressing as allotments as such are quite British things.

For Christmas last year my ‘Wish’ list contained items for the allotment – mainly a list of seeds – unusual ones from different organic websites. It was great because Haruko my daughter in law, and family and friends could pick which seeds they wanted so it was still a surprise and helped my budget!

People do think me odd requesting things like secateurs, seeds, knee pads etc instead of perfume, slippers, or clothes. I derive far more pleasure from the practical things than from the latter – (but I do still have a supply of my favourite Chanel in the cupboard!)

With my Christmas seeds from family and friends I was raring to get started.

January and February were a wash out with heavy rains then 16 days of snow. There is no point going on the land as you just compact the soil.

I decided to keep a diary in the form of a spreadsheet really to keep a record of the hours I spent, and I see that 13th March was the first day I was able to start.

I had arranged for a friend with a big rotorvator to prepare the soil for me this year. There were deep ridges on the bottom 150 feet of allotment where it had been ploughed in the past, and the tractor had got bogged down, then the soil had dried hard and the dock weeds etc grew so digging was out of the question.

The conditions were just right, so for three days I raked and cleared all the dead stems, and dug up the last of the carrots and leeks.

Richard arrived on the 16th with his big machine that went through the bottom 150 feet like butter. When I cast my mind back to the hours I had spent digging last year, I realised the futility of all my hard work which hardly made an impact after the weeds won the battle betwixt me and them. Richard went over it several times and just walked along behind his machine which did all the work – easy peasy. It was a huge old Howard Rotorvator, many years old and with a massive engine. He had made other ‘add on’ gadgets one of which he used to make furrows for my potatoes – heaven!

That same afternoon I planted my first rows of Orla, Colleen and Robinta early potatoes. What a difference a rotorvator makes. So much so that I decided to invest in one myself. But one that I could start, control and that was reliable – an evening’s search on the internet and a few phone calls the following morning, and I was sorted.

The next week I was able to plant out 50 broad bean seeds, 2 rows of Red Baron, 2 rows of Turbo and 136 Jetset onion sets. I sowed a row of Keratine carrot seeds, 6 blackcurrant cuttings, 6 rose cuttings and some Delphiniums I was propagating.

Monday 28th February and my rotorvator arrived – which necessitated in my reading the instruction book to see how to put it all together – (I know, it’s a girl thing, but it is quicker in the long run). Tuesday 29th I was using it. Took a bit of getting used too, mainly because I did not have the strength to get the wheel down out of its locked position, wiggle it enough to release it and flick it up, and do the reverse when I had finished – it took a man (my husband Pat) to do that for me for a few weeks, until I improvised. I now tilt it up on a lump of wood hold on to it with one hand and stamp down hard on the wheel a few times then flick it up. The reverse technique is the same, but after putting the wheel down I have to run up against a kerb of concrete to wedge it back in place! Sorry for the digression.

Richard came on the 1st April and did the rest of the allotment for me, and I went over it with mine to get a fine tilth. At that point I knew that I would be able to manage the whole 330ft by 33ft after all – what joy!

Looking at my diary I see that April whizzed by in a frantic burst of activity.

Installing chicken wire fencing (odd lengths and poles) in an attempt to deter the rabbits, transplanting my flower arranging plants – Delphiniums, Achilleas, Rudbeckia, Sweet Williams, rose cuttings, hostas, etc. There was a lot of seed sowing of veggies, manure spreading, and preparation for peas, beans, squashes brassicas and more onions and potatoes, sowings of grass seed areas and green manure areas.
The results of which are interesting as you will see in later entries – which I will share with you.

I definitely was over enthusiastic with my timingss for planting seeds - or was it just the weather conditions this year?

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