One of the things I love about gardening on an allotment, as opposed to the privacy of my back garden, is meeting and getting to know some like-minded, but also, wonderfully kind and generous people. We have a mixed bunch on our site, as I’m sure is the case up and down the country, but I’m lucky to have some lovely neighbours.
I turned up to the plot a few weeks ago to find 4 bags of lovely, stinky manure in front of my shed. Fantastic! As no note was left I could only assume they were meant for me, but I had no idea who to thank, until later when the gift bearer came to tell me she had rescued some for me after she’d discovered a ‘help-yourself’ heap down the far end of the site where I never normally visit. Rather than waiting to tell me I could help myself, she went ahead and filled 4 bags for me, just because I’d mentioned wanting some in conversation a few weeks earlier! What a star.
Perfect for mulching my courgettes and squashes, which will benefit hugely, and at the weekend I planted out 14 tomato plants, each into a deep hole filled with manure and plenty of water. Seven went into one row and the rest were scattered here and there across the plot, filling gaps at ends of rows and around wigwams of climbers. I have such a problem with blight that having them all in one bed means a blight infection wipes them all out in one go, so I’m hoping that by spreading them out more I’ll be able to save some at least if the dreaded blight hits.
The row of seven also had a top dressing of manure another good watering and then a mulch of dry grass and dried mustard stems (which had been grown there previously, and just raked up). This is partly to suppress the weeds and partly to stop surface water from evaporating. Once my tomatoes get established I water them less and less through the summer, allowing them to find their own source. I’m pretty mean like this with all my crops as I just don’t have the water to give them.
Interestingly I been reading a great book by James Wong – Grow for Flavour, in which he recommends exactly this method for improving the flavour of many crops. Too much water just waters down the flavour, even if it increases the yield. Lots of watery tasteless veg, or a few delicious ones? I know what I’d prefer! No doubt there’ll be more on all this to come, I’ve only just started reading it.
Back on to topic, and another lovely, generous allotment neighbour gave me a bag full of broad beans, which is just fantastic because mine have yet again succumbed to terrible rust, and they’re not looking good. I’m starting to give up on growing broad beans.
What lovely folk. I only have to visit my allotment for my faith in both nature and human nature to be fully restored. I hope I can give back as much generosity as I receive, after all, you reap what you sow, and if that’s not true on an allotment I don’t know where it is.