Great News - for Lucy, Matt and Lily it's the news they've been waiting for. They've been allocated an allotment.
The adventure starts!
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Looks like the allotment was worked on until this year or last year. It is a great half plot and there are plenty of existing features including a good greenhouse and water butt and lots of areas covered in weed control material. There are still some vegetables in the ground and a large asparagus bed, gooseberry, current, strawberries and rhubarb. We're looking forward to getting started.
We spent most of Sunday at the allotment clearing out the greenhouse and starting to clear bindweed which we expect will be our nemesis. Snow stopped play about 2pm. We'll be returning on Friday to take home pots and trays to be washed and to install pipes to connect the greenhouse to the water butt. We already bumped into two other allotment holders who gave us lots of useful advice about the site.
We spent most of the day clearing an area at the front of the plot ready for some compost bins. Lots and lots of bindweed, once we have this cleared and keep on top of it we should be ok. None of the other plots seem to have any. The plot is starting to look a lot clearer now. We moved the waterbutt closer to the greenhouse, connected pipes to collect water and fixed some of the slab pathway.
This week we planted a hedgerow at the back of our plot to encourage wildlife and provide some fruit and nuts. We went for a Woodland Trust standard hedge pack which contains dogrose, dogwood, hawthorn, hazel and crab apple. Traditionally hawthorn berries are used to make jellies, wines and ketchup. We planted a similar pack in our garden a few years ago. We have also ordered some blackthorn (sloe) to add in later. On Saturday we visited Calke Abbey and had a good look around their gardens for some inspiration, they have four scarecrows so we have some catching up to do.
On Friday and Sunday this week we focussed on planting our free garlic from the society. First we measured out the bed which is 3ft x 1.5ft so we can reach across easily. Next was weeding and raking. We added a layer of well rotted manure and put textile over to stop the weeds. Matt cut holes in the textile and we planted the garlic cloves 6 inches apart using a dibber. We got about 25 cloves from two bulbs of garlic. We covered the bed with some wire to try and stop birds pecking the garlic up. This week we also got a key for the site composting toilet and chatted to other allotment holders.
Back on the plot after a Christmas break. Tasks for the last couple of days have included mulching the strawberry patch and splitting and moving rhubarb. The rhubarb was very large so we cut it into five pieces and replanted either side of the entrance at the front of our plot. We stayed until sunset as it has been so mild.
Lots of progress over the school holidays and we made the most of the milder weather at New Year. We brought a second waterbutt and built raised beds to contain the asparagus beds with our Christmas money. We are very happy with the progress we have made so far, quite an obvious change from week 1. The bonus of our most recent visit was when emptying some tubs of soil on the plot we found a load of potatoes, something for tea!
Last week's main task was to build some compost bins. We had collected a lot of waste for composting when clearing the plot which had been left in large bulk bags for a few weeks to start the composting process. After managing to scrounge five pallets we have built two bays by screwing the pallets together, these are lined with chicken wire to stop the compost falling out. Matt also laid some old slabs to form a shed base. We are trying to reuse as many materials on the plot as possible to keep costs down.
The past few weeks have focused on dismantling a shed at home and transporting it to the allotment. This will give us a good space for tools and somewhere to sit. We transported the shed down to the allotment in between storms and managed to get it rebuilt in a few hours. The next job was to fit a new roof, we chose corrugated bitumen boards which are easy to cut and fit, even in windy weather. It was a relief to get the roof on. We added guttering and hooks for tools and Matt started to build a bench out of old fence posts.