The extra bits...(Under construction).

Tuesday, 5 July 2016

Allotment update, not before time......

      Well I am betting that folk here thought that I had given up on my cider orchard and surrounding allotment. If truth be told I damn well nearly did as my life is forever complicated and my troubled mind does struggle to keep up sometimes. But as mentioned in previous posts I am trying to simplify things and working the allotment does help my thought patterns calm down and I can look at my life more objectively when on the plot, although I did become a tad disheartened with it of late, the allotment, not life that is.

     You may recall from last year I was just going to grow cider trees with a wildflower meadow beneath them and bugger all else. But through trail and error I have learned that growing a wildflower meadow is not as simple as letting grass just grow, bugger! It actually takes more planning and effort than growing those perfect wildlife deserts folk call lawns. Basically I had been given a small rectangular plot with two mature and running riot apple cider trees. Unfortunately the soil, having been a working plot for years, is to rich for the type of plants that colonise a meadow. So during my first season the 'meadow' grew at a rate of knots equivalent to a rocket ship on after burners where totally unsuitable plants such as skutch grass and dock leaves held sway over it and in which little else in terms of the diversity that a wildflower meadow should have grew. This led to some rather unfortunate communications from the snotty members of the 'my runner bean poles were set using a lazar' allotment committee (arses), which in turn led to some head scratching for moi on whether or not to continue with this venture. But eventually the thought of my home brewed cider won the day and I decided to give it another go.

      Firstly I had to think about the meadow and how to produce a wild meadow diverse in both flora and fauna. Unfortunately, other than removing the top foot or so of soil from the plot and replacing it with totally poor soil, there is no quick solution other than patience. So the meadow is now a slow and long process but progress is being made. I now have a petrol mower and cut the meadow at least weekly. Hang on a minute, am I not the one who discourages others from manicured lawns? Well yes I am but there is method in my madness, by cutting the meadow thus over the next few years the soil will gradually lose its fertility and become more suitable for the type of plants I require to take root here. The reason I mow and not strim the meadow is so that the cuttings are picked up and do not add to the fertility of the soil, and also the cut height is set at max which is about 5 inches higher than a lawn would be cut. A spin off from this is that the cuttings are added to my beautifully built compost heap which is now working properly as can felt by the heat it now generates. So at this stage mowing the meadow is about preventing the unwanted plants from multiplying and also weakening them, reducing the soil's fertility, helping my compost and keeping the gestapo allotment committee of my case, tis a win win situation m'thinks.

     Having said that I am in effect reducing the diversity of the meadow but I have countered this slightly by beginning to add native plants that can stand both the high fertility level and the mowing. I had already introduced Cowslips which are doing nicely and to these I am slowly adding others such as Daises and, rather aptly for moi, Self-Heal which is a gorgeous little plant that spreads readily and puts up beautiful purple flower spires that the bees seem to adore...

Self-Heal

Daisy

 ....ooohhh if the committee only knew what I was cultivating on me allotment.

     As for the rest of the plot well I now have five small raised beds in which I planted raspberry, runner bean, broad bean, courgette, potatoes and radish as well as some nasturtium to add colour and it's a great addition to a salad. Well out of these only the nasturtium, potato and raspberry have done any good as due to the past couple of weeks of wet weather the slug population has exploded. Now this setback also got me thinking as I refuse to use chemicals n the like on my plot but if I am to reap some reward from it besides cider then a solution was needed. So today I have sown some late dwarf beans and introduced Nematodes into the soil. These are a naturally occurring parasite that limit slug population. By raising the nematode numbers it should have a detrimental effect upon the slugs, fingers crossed. I have also made a small start to what I hope will be a mixed fruit boundary hedge and planted three purple gooseberry bushes. Oh and almost forgot I have planted up an old knackered wheelbarrow with foxgloves, hopefully they will set seed around the edges of the plot and under the mature cider trees where I leave the grass and nettles to grow unmolested by the mower.

     So all in all the allotment is still ongoing and slow progress for my vision of attracting wildlife to it is being made, I shall leave you with a few more pictures to be getting on with....

Barrow load of Foxgloves

View from the bottom

View from the top

My most successful crop to date

Such a beauty

the bees are loving em too


So til next time take care,

John

7 comments:

  1. If you're not already, consider planting EDIBLE wild plants, so that your plot is both "natural" and practical.

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  2. Without thinking, l have planted nasturtium in a raised vegetable bed. No flowers yet but masses of leaves due to too rich a soil. I'm still learning and forgetting and learning...

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  3. Love reading your blogs, you write so naturally

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  4. Wonderful post John - allotment is looking good. So love nasturtium flowers and foxgloves in a wheelbarrow is a great idea :) Good Luck with the wild flower meadow :)

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  5. Nematodes. Always thought that was a cool name. Have no idea what they do, but as long as you do, I'm good.

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  6. love the allotment ! we have nasturtiums and marigolds that dot themselves all over our plot...the bees love them...and you only have to plant them once and they come up every year by themselves...result !

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