Allotment Adventures: Under-cultivated

It was an interesting Saturday at the allotment. We got told that this area by the rose garden and the pond, means our plot is viewed as under cultivated. The current rules are that 70% of the plot should be under cultivation, so 70% of the plot should be growing flowers, fruit or vegetables. We have the compost and work area at the back of the plot and the shed at the front as well as this space and we’ve been told that this adds up to more that 30%. We mostly use this area for pots and seating but I think that moving the potatoes to guard the winter squash bed made this area look barren.

Brassica/winter veg row

Initially we thought that the issue was that we have five empty beds at the top that are waiting for brassicas but it’s this space. It’s fair to say that my mum was incandescent with rage, we have worked very hard and it’s been a really odd spring, I had to send her away while the conversation was happening (she will apologise to the committee member who raised it for being cross). Basically, this was a heads up that if it’s in this state in August, we’ll be subject to a warning letter and at risk of loosing the top half of the plot.

November 2019

We have a waiting list of 250 odd people and while it’s not entirely under control, compared to when we got it in 2019 (picture above), it would be a good plot to give to a newcomer. That’s not going to happen, Ma and I have ordered two new raised bed kits and a patio set. The plan is to plant one of the raised beds up with alpine strawberries and the other with more herbs (summer savoury, thyme, camomile). The patio set will go in between the two beds. The great thing about raised beds and no dig is that they can go in anywhere and it’ll take a couple of weeks for us to sort this out.

If we didn’t have the £200 that this is going to cost, I would dig over the area, add some compost and sow some wild flowers, and move some of the plants we have. As it is, we are lucky that we do have money to throw at it, for which I’m grateful. In the winter I’m going to seriously work on parts of the plot that could be viewed as not productive. I’m going to sort out the apple tree area, taking out the apple tree and putting patio fruit trees in that area with a beneficial insect attracting flower mix and get a polytunnel up in the work area because that will be a cultivated space and I can have a go at growing melons and aubergines next summer.

I’m quite upset because I thought the plot was looking pretty good and productive and as this is the place we put the potatoes and blueberries usually and nothing grows at where the compost area is because of the tree cover. I didn’t think there was an issue but there you have it, life on allotment sites can be fraught with committee issues and rules you weren’t expecting. However, one of the really annoying things about me is that if I don’t think you’re playing fair, I will clear that bar you’ve set because I don’t like being told I’m not doing properly when I think I am, it won’t happen again. Watch this space.

Harvest

On to the work and the harvest. It’s fair to say that we haven’t really had great harvests this year, we’ve had garlic and rhubarb one week and onions and rhubarb the next but this week is the first week, we’ve had a mixed harvest worth a photo. Beetroot, potatoes, blueberries, shallots, rhubarb, mint, carrots and and teeny, tiny amount of peas. It won’t be this much for the rest of the month, the summer squash, french beans and cucumbers are coming on and the tomatoes are flowering but all the summer plantings are way behind, partly weather and partly my poor planning.

Blackcurrant harvest

This year I was hoping for a good blackcurrant harvest, but magpies put a stop to that. We got 11, and next year we’ll net the bushes as soon as the berries are formed! Every day is a learning day and this year has been full of them on the plot. It’s like we’ve proved we can do it and the plot has decided to teach us more than just the basics.

The winter squash and sweet potatoes are starting to establish and we sowed chard and turnips as part of the brassica row for autumn/winter. We also pulled up the peas and we bunged some crookneck seeds in there, in the hope that we’ll get some summer squash at some point this year!

Key work to get on with next week aside from new beds, are to get all of the existing compost to the plot, weed the patch up by the apple tree, strim the paths again, trim and tie up the tomatoes. There is always work and I do feel that I’ve been told off, but although I’m behind compared to last year, it’s still beautiful and by the end of the month, it’ll be if not finished then at least, fully utilised. The brassica plugs should arrive mid month, then we’ll have five beds planted up (20 cabbages, 10 cauliflowers, 10 broccoli, 10 cavolo nero) and at the end of the month, 40 leeks should arrive and then we’ll have every bed on the plot occupied. At last…

Tomato flowers
Blueberries

About nicdempsey

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4 Responses to Allotment Adventures: Under-cultivated

  1. Tabula Rasa says:

    I was maybe going to suggest putting a couple of fruit trees on dwarf root stocks in and you could still have your pots around too but you have already got the raised beds. We have the same rules but if you saw what people have tried to get away with (storage of a lorry flatbed trailer) you can kinda see why. I suspect my plot is pretty boarder line because of the paths for easy access to the beds but as it is spread out it doesn’t look so obvious.

    • nicdempsey says:

      It’s a nice idea but there are also rules on how many trees we have on a plot because some plots look like orchards and that then makes them hard to rent out again. A friend that took on a plot last year had to, at the behest of the committee, take out five trees and reduce the size of the shed that were already there. When we got the top half we had to hire a skip for the rubbish and the ‘shed’ that was on it because it was against the rules, even though other sheds that were equally against the rules on the plots of committee members haven’t had to be taken down! I understand the rules but I think the application of them in this instance is unfair! However we soldier on!

  2. Sharon says:

    I’m with your mum in the incandescent category. I’ve made them measure the plot and do the sums. Is it a private site or just committee members with an over-inflated self image? Plot looks lovely btw

    • nicdempsey says:

      The site is owned by a charity, Pathways, but the committee has a new Chair. I think they are just a bit panicked by the size of the waiting list and there are a bunch of gardening club members that are at the top of the waiting list and pointing out ‘faulty’ plots in the hope that they’ll get a half plot quicker. It was the tone of the conversation as well, that I could keep the front but the back would maybe be better given to a new plot holder. I’ve spent a year and a half and nearly a grand clearing it, building beds and a pond area, so a new plot holder would love it, but it’s mine! It’s sorted out now.

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