A New Allotment adventure!

I can’t quite believe that we are at the end of November already although I am pleased to say that I am on top of all the little ‘to do’ jobs around the garden. In fact – I now find myself turning the pages of various seed catalogues as my attention turns to next years sowings.

The task of seed sowing this year will undoubtedly turn up a notch or two come Spring as I have now been afforded a fantastic opportunity to cultivate a small portion of a very large allotment plot. So far I have created four new beds and will be sharing many more with the two plot holders who have very kindly donated this corner of their own plot space.

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I will of course continue to grow produce in my back garden and intend to use the allotment for crops which either stand in the ground for long periods of the year or crops which require a full, sunny position.

I am very much hoping to adopt the no dig method fully with this new plot and I intend to keep the ground fallow until at least April. This will in theory allow the soil to settle and hopefully suppress the weeds below. I made a conscious effort not to dig the ground over prior to applying the thick layer of mulch seen in the photo above. It is a very experimental approach to creating new beds – but I’m hoping it will pay off in the long run?

The allotment itself is a very quiet site surrounded by woodland and amazing vistas across the valley. From the two days spent down there so far I can see that the site sits in a very sunny position and this will be great for advancing young crops come Spring time as well as ripening things like Sweetcorn and squashes in late summer.

In the process of upscaling the amount of land available to me I now have the luxury of trialling new growing methods and sampling a range of new fruit and vegetable varieties. I also have a better chance to grow successionally. In the past I have always planted early potato varieties for instance – which could be lifted before mid June for brassica sowings. Next year I will be able to play around with second earlies and main crops without sacrificing precious space.

I count myself lucky to be taking on a plot at this time of the year. November is perhaps the perfect month. The ground can be worked and developed over the coming four months with little distraction from seed sowings. By the time February and March roll round I can essentially hit the ground running!

Closer to home – my Broad Beans are growing extremely well and the transplanting in toilet tubes seems to have worked a treat! With space no longer at a premium – I made an additional sowing direct into the ground around a week ago. This should mean a nice early crop come May time.

The last of my Runner Beans have now been harvested and the first of my cauliflower has been cropped! There is an abundance of Covolo Nero to see me through the winter and my cabbages are hearting up well. The snapshot below was taken on a frosty morning last week when the temperature sunk to -1.7C. The patch will slowly start to empty over December and January and I will begin to apply a thick mulch to the soil as crops are cleared.

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Inside…my little tomato experiment seems to be working well and the cuttings are now showing signs of new growth. If this works well and they survive into Spring – I will most certainly upscale the number of cuttings I take next September. I am hoping that they will provide me with a slightly earlier crop than seeds sown fresh – however even if this is not the case – the relative ease of propagation more than makes up for it!

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3 thoughts on “A New Allotment adventure!

  1. Hi Paul. I found your blog via Sharpen Your Spades! Re: your new no dig beds, the depth of the mulch, was the grass cut short and whether or not there was cardboard underneath will affect how successful the compost is at killing off the weeds beneath. If you are not sure, cover the beds with polythene for a few months for extra light-excluding properties. Old opened out compost bags weighed down with stones would be fine.

    I warmly recommend covering the grassy paths with a couple of layers of cardboard to kill off the grass. Compost paths are much easier to hoe/keep weed free and it’s one less job for you. Otherwise grassy paths need regular edging to stop them going on a take over bid of the plot.

    Sounds like a very exciting time for you. I’m very impressed with your tomato plants, they look fabulous.

    1. Hi Stephanie. Many thanks for the advice, I am very new to the no dig method but excited to be trialling it for the first year on my new allotment.
      Some of the beds I have created and mulched appear to be on ground previously occupied by other beds. The ground was cracked but weed free. In other areas I think you are right in recommending some sort of plastic cover for the remainder of winter. Two of the new beds sit in a space which was brimming with lots of grasses/ nettles and brambles etc.
      Next season will be very experimental and I hope to get a lot of the ground work to the paths during Spring.

      I am amazed at how well the tomatoes are doing. They are racing away on what is a relatively cool window cill. I may even take some additional cuttings from them come January! Seems a fantastic method for propagation and it feels like I’m getting something for free. It will be interesting to see if I get an earlier crop in Summer 2019?

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