Today I’m going to give you a quick run through of a few experiments from my first proper year of allotmenteering (if mountaineering can be a verb, then why not ‘allotmenteering’? My spellcheck doesn’t agree, and suggests ‘allmothering’ as an alternative, which is actually not far from the truth!). I’ve been spending more time in the allotment than in the garden lately, maybe thanks to what could be a silver lining to the disaster that is climate change – we seem to be getting a much more extended growing season. To demonstrate this bounty, my first of today’s six on Saturday is Wednesday’s harvest. I’m especially pleased that the carrots were successful, after a long wait – yes they are supposed to be that size, they are the golf-ball variety marché de Paris!
Next experiment, a home-made cloche, all credit to my other half for sticking with those carpentry lessons at school. He used the left-over polycarbonate from the construction of the greenhouse to make me two of these, and they’re doing a splendid job of keeping the maple leaves and seeds off the Asiatic greens. The allotment is both beautified and made more complicated by the presence of many mature trees, but this seems to a good way to handle the autumn leaf fall that could otherwise smother more delicate crops.
Next to the cloche, I’ve sown a little patch of green manure. Having learnt more about soil this year, and how important it is to protect it from weathering and erosion, I’m trying to make sure I don’t leave any bare soil. This is a mix of mustard and phacelia.
Fourth experiment, ok I know this looks very messy, but please be forgiving! This is the new patch of allotment I was allocated in the spring, and at that time it was just an overgrown mass of wild plants, including couch grass, horsetail, dandelions, bindweed, buttercups…you get the idea. But it is starting to take recognisable shape. I’ll be putting in more raised beds, and in the meantime, in the centre is my no dig bed. I’m just piling on whatever organic matter I can find – straw, leaves, twigs, comfrey leaves, lawn clippings from the garden – and I hope this will make an excellent, fertile growing space come spring.
Fifth experiment – here at the boundary with the neighbouring patch, where the couch grass was particularly exuberant, I laid down this weed suppressing membrane. This is maybe not in the spirit of the permaculture idea, but I just think the weeds were too vigorous here for going straight into no-dig. But to make use of the space while the lining is there, I’ve decided to try my luck with putting strawberries in. I worry that the couch grass will find its way through, but hey, this is an experiment!
Finally, for number six, my lovely, lovely greenhouse. Other half really excelled himself here, I’m very proud of him for building me such a lovely space! It’s been transformative. For winter, I’ve sown lamb’s lettuce, winter lettuce, lollo rosso and radicchio. And to be really experimental, I’ve left the aubergines and sweet pepper plants in place to see what happens. Does anyone think there’s a realistic chance they will continue produce over winter? Or is this hoping for a miracle?!
That’s all for this week, thanks to Jim at Garden Ruminations for hosting Six on Saturday, have a lovely weekend one and all.