Eight years ago I finally met “the mushroom man”, the mystery person in Horam who I had gone to for years for spent mushroom compost but never actually met. The compost was bagged up and available for anyone to take, all you had to do is put the money in the honesty box. It was a huge moment in my life (ok, maybe not that huge) and it was to be the last time I would make the journey for mushroom compost, it was too far away really and while the price slowly had gone up over the years, the amount in the bags seemed to get less. That’s market forces and running a business, don’t get me started on the size of Mars Bars these days and the huge price. It was the first, and last time I would meet him, and the last time I would go all that way – a bit sad (ok, maybe not that sad). Read more… Finally Met the Mushroom Man!
When we got the allotment I thought what it needed was a whole load of (cheap) mushroom compost. I don’t think it gives that much as far as ‘growing power’ but it helps with the soil, it is normally very cheap, and it smells nice. I did think of the mushroom man in Horam but thought a 60 mile trip was probably over the top, and so I kept an eye out locally who might have bags of it they wanted to get rid of. I thought I saw a handmade sign somewhere along the A27 on the way to Chichester when we were that way once, but I hadn’t seen it again. This weekend was different though, we spotted the sign and on the way home we thought we would investigate closer.
A small nursery near the A27 at Yapton where it looks like an old couple live in a small house/shack with a load of polytunnels. Very relaxed and friendly, we picked up six bags filled right up to the top and we got change from £10. I had a quick look around their polytunnels while I was there, lots of young veg plants for sale and lots of bags of bark chip too – maybe the next visit.
The bags were so full that I only used three of them today to mulch the potatoes, gooseberries and strawberries. Life started to feel a lot more complete with mushroom compost spread about the place, it was like welcoming back a long lost friend.
Overnight it had been thundering a lot and raining, but it had stayed hot all the way through and so it dried pretty quickly. It was very early in the morning but already 20c and so I gave everything a watering before I really started. Uncovering the beetroot and carrots showed some success but also a lot of ants which seem to be all over the place.
I sowed some more beet leaf seeing as something had eaten all the others. I expected a rabbit and I found a number of rabbit droppings to confirm it. I then found the rabbit itself, now dead and laying in the corner of the plot – a bit sad but maybe problem solved. I noticed a lot of rat poison traps around the site and so maybe it had tried eating some of that too.
It had eaten all the turnips and salsify the other week, but both were looking like they had never been touched. Likewise the strawberries were recovering, some with small strawberries and flowers on , the other bed I have been pinching the flowers off to encourage them to grow more during their first year.
While sowing new beet leaf seed I did a couple of rows of basil and coriander, more to have something with a strong smell to confuse bugs than to actually use – but we may use some of it. I thinned some of the beetroot and raddishes. I noticed some of the french bean seeds I planted were showing, I’ve yet to see any of the runner bean seeds. The bloke on the plot next to ours turned up, he had told me before that he had not seen any of his beans come up, and now they were on their way up the poles. I commented, he told me he had gone out and bought plants. Maybe it is something about been seeds this year. No worries, as the plants we had given to us the other month were all doing ok.
We have a load of calabrese and sprout plants at home which would probably all like to be planted somewhere. They have been in their pots outside for weeks. They were going to go into the main bed but I expect a whole load of tiny baby leeks to grow into slightly bigger baby leeks and then be transplanted into their final position, and then there would be no room left. The bit of current ‘wasteland’ next to the raspberries and by the strawberries looked like good places, but the soil is not good and full of bindweed. I started on one side, digging deep to remove bindweed and mixing with the mushroom compost. I raked flat and used this time to dig up the grass path that had been covered with plastic and wood for months. I raked that flat too, recovered with plastic and wood and it all looked good. Granted it was only about 1 metre of the path, but it was a start of the end of grass paths.
I left everything uncovered with the idea of returning back later on in the day to do a large amount of watering. The Daily Mail was going bonkers about the hot weather over the bank holiday weekend, and it was still super hot into the later afternoon. We all walked up, went round with watering cans, covered things over. We picked some more rhubarb which had grown back pretty well since last harvest the other month.