Its been a while -but it is January. Dark, dull, dank. January that has seemed cold and frosty forever. What to do? I have mostly been sitting in front of the fire, reading seed catalogues and looking at pictures of summer gardens and planning. Lots of planning. (Not totally true. I have been working on a big design project, but I can't tell you about yet.)
Now, if you read regularly, you know I like to plan. Research and planning = a blissful lost afternoon. I love a measurement and a visual mood board. They make me happy. Very happy. Creative planning -or as others may call it, drawing and colouring in. These days its clicks and a snipping tool. Obviously, I then get the Asst Gardener to do most of the heavy work - but hey, after 30+ year in a corporate world, I have learned to empower and delegate amazingly well....Its all about transferable skills these days.
Anyway - why have I been in a pleasurable, planning frenzy? Answer - I have a new allotment space. I literally skipped the 7 minutes down to view it and accept it last weekend. The Asst Gardener made me wait 2 years before I could put my name on the waiting list - when you see the pictures you'll understand his concern - and after nearly a year of waiting, I'm in.
Look at this beauty...….
Its a quarter plot. Demand is high, so a great approach to see if people can cope with the time needed to give such a plot. Its 14m x 4m (45 feet x 13 feet).
There is much work to, but at the same time I have inherited some fabulous soft fruit bushes in blackcurrants and redcurrants.
To get rid of the couch grass I am going to try the no dog method pioneered by Charles Dowding. The man is a soil health guru -and as I will be blogging on my progress (I will try not to make them too frequent), I am planning to dedicate a few posts to his amazing work.
Look him up. He's up there with Paul Weller and Virgil Van Dijk on my list of heroes.
In a sentence -why no dig? Its produces a weed free space for cultivation that saves time and carbon. It is also proven to result in a more productive plot, with heavier and healthier crops. Why break your Asst Gardeners back when this is available?
When you look at the 3rd pic above, that's covered in couch grass, (which I plan to be filled with flowers and veg by July), I will be covering it with cardboard, putting 20cm minimum of compost on top of it and getting planting.
There will be many mistakes, many wins and many failures I am sure -which I will share. I will add a small pond, greenhouse, renewed compost bins, water butts and dip tanks and a small storage shed - as well as somewhere to relax, sit and admire my (and the Asst gardeners) handy work.
I will add raspberries, blueberries, a plum tree, an asparagus bed and grow veg such as Kale, garlic, carrots, chard, spinach, radishes, salads, artichokes - basically things we like, and hopefully not too hard for this veg first timer.
I will also grow flowers -many many flowers, mainly for cutting for my own house. Some are edible, most will not be. All our great for pollinators. They will also be colourful. I am planning a gaudy kaleidoscope of joy, versus my more muted / "designery" approach in the back garden.
Apart from reusing what I have on the plot - both soft and hard landscaping, 90% of the plants will come from seed, and I have been busy on gumtree and Ebay for used bench's, storage, used apple crates and timber etc...This will be both a cost effective and sustainable space for me.
So if you are having a dark dank day - look at these. My visual plans for the allotment. Fingers crossed I'll be showing you my urban rainbow oasis of joy in 6 months time.