Allotment grafting

If anyone thinks having an allotment sounds like a nice idea for something to do at the weekends, a gentle bit of gardening, pop down and pick a few beans and berries, have a nice chat with the neighbours. Think again. That might happen if you’ve been toiling for weeks (only possible because you are either unemployed or retired) and have a perfectly ordered plot. For most of us, you arrive and are faced with a mess like this.

It is hard work, and sometimes you don’t quite know where to start and then don’t really start at all, which is when it gets completely out of hand and some people give up. But I’ve learnt to just get on with it, start somewhere and keep going, and after 3 hours that small section looks more like this:

Hard to believe it’s the same area eh! The only proof is the leeks in the foreground and the compost bin at the top. My strawberry bed is reclaimed and back in order. I’m so glad I used the weed suppressant fabric over the bed or else it would have been so much worse. I’m currently potting on lots of baby strawberry plants to create a second bed for next year.

John has been grafting too, digging us a huge compost trench for filling up over the autumn and winter. This is where I’ll plant the beans next year. They need lots of moisture and nutrients, so a compost trench is ideal.

We’ve thrown in the remains of the failed broccoli (including my posh romanescu broccoli that sadly bolted) and the slug eaten dwarf beans. These, along with my blighted tomatoes, are this years failures. I won’t throw any blighted or otherwise diseased plants into the trench as it would spread the disease, so those will go to the council waste collection. We have added in some rhubarb leaves as it’s starting to die back now anyway, and some prunings from the herb bed. Each layer of green material gets covered with a bit of soil to keep it all in place and deter any rats, and it will get added to over the next few months until slightly mounded. Then, like any compost, you just allow it all to rot down over winter, and it should provide a nutritious bed for the beans in spring. It also saves you trying to cram stuff into the already full compost bins.

Plans for next year are already brewing in my head. Here’s hoping 2013 won’t be unlucky!


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