I was going to drive over to see the mushroom man in Yapton and buy some bags of mushroom compost, then I saw someone selling bags of rotted horse manure just down the road, then I saw someone giving away rotted horse manure just down the road too! A 5 minute drive, I found the field and the pile of poo, a waved to the woman at the bottom of the field and she walked over to meet me. Take as much as you can, keep coming back, she said – so I started to fill the bags. I only had four bags with me, so on leaving I told her I would be back another day. She seemed pretty happy, suggested I just climb over the gate if I turn up and she isn’t there.
On first observation it looked like it was all pretty fresh straight from cleaning out the horses, but around the other side of the pile it had obviously been there a lot longer, all dark and crumbly. I’m pretty pleased with the discovery and will certainly be back to cover the whole plot.
It was warm and sunny but the allotment was deserted of people, I had the whole place to myself much as I do when I go early in the morning. I did normal hoeing which allowed me to see how everything was growing and what needed attention. There is one calabrese plant growing outside of the netting where I first sowed seed direct in the ground and this was the only one that came up. I’ve never covered it and so it has been sacrificed to the caterpillars, which is fine. I had been growing rather tall and over shadowing the leeks though, so I decided to dig it out, giving more space and light to everything else.
The courgettes have mostly come to an end, there was a single flower on one of the plants but we have come to the end of eating courgettes for the year too. With that, I pulled the plants up and removed the pallet collars that made the raised bed. These came with the plot and I gave them, and raised beds, a try, but the concept didn’t work for me. I found they dried out too quickly, needed constant watering. I had put down newspaper and covered in soil and compost, the ants loved it, the plants didn’t. Saying that, it shows just how tolerant courgettes are as they did well, but I feel they would had done even better in the proper ground. I’ve always questioned the logic of taking good growing ground, covering it up and making beds on top of it, I’ve decided it’s not for me,
The plan then is to remove each of these raised beds as they finish up for the year and extend the main bed making a number of four meter long growing spaces throughout the plot. Today I did this with the courgette one, spreading over some of the rotted manure that I collected. Using the full width of the plot suddenly makes it look a lot more roomy.
There was bare ground here the broad beans had been, so I raked manure over that too. Two bags used, two left, a whole pile remaining to collect more from.
Picking wise, I was looking for carrots to take home. I pulled some from the original row (instead of the ‘please some carrots grow’ later row) and only took three home due to the large size, and mostly straight too! Still impressed with the carrots. Before planting I had dug down quite a bit and loosened the soil up, mixed with compost and removed stones as I saw them. It was disappointing when nothing really germinated, but then they did. I had sowed another row by then, but not dug down much, that row of carrots are rather forked. However, both rows smell and taste very ‘carroty’.
Christmas potatoes looking good, although a bit leggy when you look closer, but flowers on some of them. The sprouts look like sprouts, but I noticed a huge amount of white aphids on some of them. Have I planted them too close to each other (I know I have). I cleared off some of the yellowing leaves to get more air through, I will spray with soapy water next time
It is strange, a crap week at work, then crap at the weekend… just different type of crap – it makes all the difference.
- raspberries – two handfuls made a nice snack, I’m sure these were summer canes?!
- carrots – super big ones with minimal forking
- normal amount of rocket and salad leafs
- small bits of broccoli, they take up room but seem to keep giving little bits each week
- another small last lot of runner beans
- another small last lot of french beans
The next day I returned with a spray bottle full of soapy water and gave the sprouts a good stray, under and over the leaves and trying to make sure I soaked each cluster of aphids on the sprouts. It was another sunny morning with lots of people on their plots, lots of new people clearing weeds, it is a the start of a new lease year. I spread the rest of the manure that I collected the day before, mulched the rhubarb plants. Did lots of weeding, dead heading of the marigolds etc…