Monday, 18 April 2011

Spray day...and my first plantings

Sunday 17th April - Second day on the allotment and it was another fine, dry day with little or no wind.  Perfect conditions for spraying the bulk of my plot with Roundup (as per the advice given by my champion grower neighbour,  John).  This area is roughly 30 x 6 yards and although I would have liked to tackle things completely organically it seemed to me a massive and time consuming task. 

Although, not a reason for my decision to compromise my organic principles, this decision had the benefit that I could demonstrate my willingness to take advice from my more experienced neighbours.

 Not only did I receive the advice but the loan of a spray bottle, and once I'd arrived with the bottle of  Roundup John was so pleased to see his derelict neighbouring plot being dealt with that he undertook the spraying on my behalf, for which I was very grateful.  I have to leave things on the sprayed land now for 2-3 weeks so my attention was directed to planting my cleared section and planning for the future.

I have a basic skeleton of a plan for a four area rotation system which I think will occupy between one half to two-thirds of my total area; the cleared and dug area represents about two of these four areas.  So, following John's advice, it was time to plant potatoes in one and onions & roots in the other.

One half of my cleared area seemed to have been tended more recently than the other so I chose the less tended area to plant the potatoes - thinking the task of digging trenches to plant would help loosen the ground and allow me to remove the 'twitch' which seemed more populous in this section.  Seven rows of potatoes went in and half a bucket of the white, brittle twitch roots came out!  I planted one row (14) of 'Anya'; three rows (48) of Arran Pilot, first early; and three of Maris Piper, main crop.

Other than that I put in a row of Dutch Shallots (14), a block of onion sets (approx 100) and 10 Leek plants kindly donated by my other neighbour, Brush.  The space is not completely full as I've left room to plant some roots soon (most probably carrots, beetroot, radishes..but definitely Parsnips).

Tips learnt today included to cut the papery 'tail' from the top of my onion sets before planting (to avoid birds investigating these protruding from the ground and in doing so pulling them out one by one) and how to plant Leeks.  Make a hole with a crowbar, drop seedling into the hole, fill hole with water - job done.

Time to take a rest from digging (for the moment) and to put my mind to planning and preparation for the future.  Things to think about include: organising and dividing the plot; planting indoors (squash, pumpkins, runner beans, french beans etc.) for planting out once the ground is prepared; and thinking about more permanent fixtures - compost facilities, water collection and building(s)?  

I was asked the question yesterday in the local Slade Valley dialect "eya gunna ev an utt?" My answer was yes!  Need to do some investigation though - new shed, second hand or home made?  More on this later...

Thanks for visiting.

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