Over the last few months even the most dedicated veg grower has had to dig deep to muster any enthusiasm to venture on to the plot.
After a very disappointing and wet season last year, combined with what seems to have been 6 months of winter, the allotment was looking in a right old state.
The Mercury’s refusal to rise much above zero, has meant that any thoughts of seed sowing in the cold green house were on hold up until a couple of weeks ago, not good for the gardener itching to rip open this years packets and get sowing.
But the late start hasn’t stopped every thing, and in one sense it’s done the allotment good.
On the odd day when the soil was workable, I’ve been setting about putting back what last years rain washed away. The old adage ‘feed the soil not the plant‘ just works, so the emphasis has been to put some life back in to the soil.
Where the potatoes are to go, trenches were dig and filled with rotted horse manure and garden compost, then back filled ready for the tubers be planted in a few weeks time. As the crop is lifted the humus will be Incorporated with the surrounding soil.
This will not only increase the chances of a better crop of spuds, but will vastly improve the soil for next years plants
The brassica section had already been rough dug last Autumn, so a few barrow loads of garden compost was spread and the rough surface broken down. The hard frosts that we experienced over the winter certainly helped to brake down the heavy clay soil.
The areas soil was quite acidic, so has had lime applied, twice, and may need another before I’m happy that the pH is 6 or some where near.
The Marrows , Courgettes and Squashes, have ended up being assigned quite a clayey spot this year. It was rough dug in autumn, but because the area either bakes or water logs, garden compost was spread and a good thickness of weathered straw used as a mulch.
The plants will be grow on mounds through the mulch, giving the needed drainage at the base of the plant, but with access to the moisture beneath.
On the other side of the plot where the Onions, Leeks and Peas etc will be grow, the soil is in a fair condition.
Having had garden compost spread over it in the latter end of last season, along with the spent compost out of the pots, tubs and buckets, little needs to be done apart from working this mix in to the surface.
All things being equal all the above or something similar should be done each year, and is, in a sort of ad hoc way, when time allows, between sowing, pricking out, potting on and watering.
So the late start to the season has benefited my allotment soil no end, it’s all ready, raring to go. I just haven’t got that many plants to put in it at the moment, but we allotmenteers are optimistic folk, aren’t we?