Saturday 20 September 2014

Little Helpers, Frantic Hoeing and a Final Hurrah

As the summer turns to autumn and the available hours of daylight lessen, the final push to have the allotment ready for winter reaches fever pitch. I seconded the help of my two girls, getting them used to visiting the plot and learn about the food we are going to grow.

Serena Helping Out in Her Own Way...                                                  Half the Plot Still Looks Very Green

After an initial enthusiasm for the idea of helping to get everything ready; carrying tools, boards and wooden blocks to make the low planters, when it came to some of the more arduous task of clearing the still very green third of the pot, she found her own way of helping.
While we began yet more hoeing, Serena read her book, out loud, keeping me entertained whilst I cleared a few more meters of weeds.

With an early on both days at the weekend, we finally cleared the plot of the persistant weeds, revealing the wonderful soil beneath. Adding two more planters for shallow rooted salad leaves and radish gave me an idea as to what space would be left for root vegetables, legumes and brassicas.
                      Four Shallow Planters                                                      The Area Reserved for Substantial Crops
The only downside of clearing a plot that you inherited in an overgrown state is the volume of material you need to clear and what to do with it. Continental Landscapes, who run the site on behalf of the local council, provide one skip per month to remove waste generated by the site, all 112 plots. They have recently reviewed this policy and have withdrawn the service for 2015 as they believe that much of the waste would be better composted than removed from site.

For a new allotment holder, the skips provided could be of huge benefit, allowing the removal of a majority of the perennial persistant weeds in one go, as they cannot be used for compost as this would simply re-introduce the weeds back into the soil.

Aware of this, I brokered a deal with Continental Landscapes, agreeing that if I cleared the allotment and located the weeds at the head of the plot, where they could be easily collected, then they would remove them from site on my behalf.
I regret to say that this agreement seems to have been forgotten, with the calls to their liason and monthly site inspections failing to have the desired effect. After consulting with some of my fellow allotment association members I took matters into my own hands and constructed a make-shift structure to hold all of the green waste, with plans to allow it to rot down naturally over the winter and use it to plant Courgette, Marrow and Butternut Squash next summer...

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