Notes from a small allotment
By Peter Hordern
I wrote this in the middle of the wettest Autumn for some years and the allotments are looking a trifle soggy. Fortunately some of my many plots are divided into strips by permanents paths so it is possible to work the land without treading on the soil. If I tried to use the rotavator in this weather it would probably disappear in a sea of mud.
My runner beans have been rather poor for the last two years so I have decided that a makeover in the form of double digging is called for. This involves removing a spade depth of soil from the whole bed then digging manure into the layer below. As you can see from the photo this brings subsoil to the surface (clay in this case). You then bring all the soil back and mix it with yet more manure. Trouble is you end up with a lot of surplus soil so I will have to find a home for that. I will report back next year to see if my efforts have been rewarded.
Elsewhere on the plot the dahlias prospered as did the pumpkin patch. The warm weather in July and August proved ideal for the Atlantic Giant pumpkin which weighed in at 141 lbs (that’s 64 kg for our younger members). The star of the dahlia show was undoubtedly Kilburn Glow a waterlily type which, when grown properly, produces dozens of superb blooms ideal for a vase in the home.
In the polytunnel the tomatoes flourished and protective green netting prevented them from being crisped as per last year. As in previous years the tastiest and most prolific variety was sun gold. Just one cucumber plant delivered dozens of tasty specimens. The polytunnel seems to have morphed into a bit of a community garden and others grew some superb melons, some ginger and even turmeric.
The leeks I have reported on before now have to be grown under enviromesh to keep the allium leaf miner at bay. I am happy to report that they are free of pests and delicious especially when served with cheese sauce!
And as if two and a half allotments wasn’t enough the Parish Council have just permitted me to turn a new half plot into a wild flower meadow. Everyone I speak to tells me this is not as easy as it sounds. I have covered the front quarter and intend to sow a ‘wild flower mix’ in the spring in this area. Over the rest I have sown wild rattle seed. This is a parasite to grass and theoretically weakens it allowing other wild flowers to take a hold. We shall see. I plan to put a winding path through the centre so all can enjoy it and maybe even an old bench if I can find one. This and all the other plots will be on show at this year’s garden walkabout.