One man and his plot is back!
Firstly, may I welcome you back to the allotment and my monthly organic gardening practises. As we are all very aware, it has been the strangest of times, and I trust these short notes find you all well. My thoughts go out to anyone who has been adversely affected by this terrible virus. For me, it was a godsend that access to our allotments continued throughout lockdown. Every cloud has a silver lining, and I ended up growing more food than ever last summer, as I had that rare commodity, time.
With a slight scent of spring in the air, it is now all about the future, and I'm finding it hard to contain my excitement; in fact, I’ve got seasonal butterflies and not of the winged variety. I've had a busy winter rebuilding all my low raised beds, and I am proud to say apart from the nails, it did not cost me a penny as I scrounged (upcycled) all the timber from various allotment friends. They won't win any prizes at Chelsea, but the beds are forked over, and I am ready to go.
The polytunnel is tidy, and all my propagators are sterilised and ready for the great spring sow. I've already sneaked in some pepper and chilli seeds, and the early potatoes are chitting on the office floor.
One job I love in spring is spreading the compost out on a freshly created bed. It is a precious product. I am careful with its use. There is never really enough of it but the sight of compost, freshly laid out on the ground that will hopefully be soon full of tasty brassicas, is a real heart warmer.
The green manure (mustard) has been chopped down and left to rot down on the surface of a few of the beds. I've learnt to do this early before the plants become too pithy. If this happens, the chopped stems tend to hang around too long, and eventually, they end up on the compost pile.
I'd suggest cutting it up fine with a pair of long-handled shears and allow the roots to rot down in the ground. It should then take five to six weeks before the ground is ready for planting. I tend to use these spaces for my tender crops such as courgette or squash as these don't go out until the end of May, so there is plenty of time for the soil to imbibe the green manure plants, both providing nutrients and benefiting soil structure.
Most of the work now is preparing for seed sowing. I like to lay down fleece in March to help the soil warm-up, meaning I can start drill sowing my salad and quick crops next month. These are some of my favourite edibles, so tasty and a real money saver.
There is one big rule for March, and it's one even the most experienced gardeners can often break, and that is not to get going too early. March can still be very much on the wintery side, so try not to jump the gun when it comes to seed sowing. Look to the Garden Organic month by month advice for guidance.
Finally, before I go, I have been reading with great delight that many new people have taken up gardening during lockdown. It is a journey you will not regret, and I welcome you and our new Garden Organic members to this fantastic subject and in the meantime... happy gardening!