The aim for today was to spend a couple of hours to have a first real look at what we have inherited and get to know the site better to start plans. The forecast was for barely above zero temperatures and so we weren’t planning to spend too long. T&J were very excited to be able to see the plot, so wearing warm coats and gloves and armed with the spade from the shed, we walked up to take a look.
As a plot, it still seems small, even as half a plot, long and thin. There were a lot of leafs lying about and so first job was to rack all these up and put into a bin bag and leave it for next year. We thought there was just fruit bushes at one end but it turned out the whole site is full of fruit, if a bit overgrown and in need of care. Care we will give, once we have worked out just what that is. We identified raspberries and potentially blackcurrants. There are loads of raspberries, maybe early and late ones? Some unknown bushes which I first thought were gooseberries but they didn’t have any spikes (can you get spike-less ones?). At the other end we found neglected looking prickly gooseberry bushes, a potential small cherry tree (if it is, we already have one in the garden which gives us too many cherries, so this one might be coming out) and possibly a small apple tree.
A bit worried about the amount of fruit and what that leaves to grow, we are not blessed with masses of space like you sometimes feel you have on a plot. The number of raspberry bushes shows the previous holder was a big fan of strawberries, which is a shame as Rachael comes out in rashes if she even thinks about touching one. Infact, just by brushing past the overgrown raspberries bought her out in small rashes. Come to the allotment… and die of raspberry poisoning!
We all cleared bits of weeds, but it needs a concentrated effort. We were able to uncover previous raised beds, clear up a lot of leafs, pull up a lot of bind weed. A bucket with water was there which made a good place to put in all the bind weed, put the lid on and not touch for a long time until they are all drowned. We have ivy coming onto the plot, I can imagine a bit of a battle keeping weeds from the other side of the fence a bay.
I liked the fact that there are a couple of homemade compost bins already present. A closer look showed a lot of non-organic rubbish on top and at time within it. I dug it all out of one bin so it was empty and we put in all the organic waste we had pulled out (apart from the weeds) and then piled it back on top of that. The wood is all a bit rotten, so I’ve put a WANTED up on the local Freegle site for pallets. There is a lot of bits of wood (and lots of rubbish) on the plot, I can patch bits up with what I find (next time I will take my hammer, there is a pot of old nails there already) but something new looking would be nice.
The previous holder liked keeping plastic bags of all types. The more heavy duty ones I laid down on the ground to make a small start on reducing weeds while we decide what to do
The plan –
- identify fruit bushes and prune accordingly. Leave as they are this year, bit if there are millions of killer raspberries then we will reduce them down.
- dig over the one existing bed, removing the remains of corn on the cob plants
- maybe dig over some of the grass areas. On the previous allotment I double dug the grass in, maybe I’ll do the same again
- buy some plastic sheeting to cover the compost bins with
- buy some plastic sheeting to cover everything that doesn’t move, or at least everything we are not actively using, which to start with will be nearly everything
- buy some more garden tools, one spade between four of us isn’t going to work!
- do something about the grass paths. Lawns are nice in a garden, they are just hard work on an allotment
- clear the rubbish – so much of it
Having done Square Foot Gardening before there is temptation to do it here too, but the idea of raised beds is something I never really like – they work in a garden but I don’t see the point on an allotment unless you have a specific requirement from a plant. There are raised beds, I might keep one or two and have as SFGs, but the rest will be ‘normal’ straight lines north to south.
We spent a good couple of hours, the winter sun was warm but when it started to lower the warmth went very quickly – and then so did we. A walk home, via the bakers for a late lunch, everyone happy.