The year started off with a burst of activity in the end of Winter and into early spring before the last frosts had finally finished.
The Fuji Cherry tree blossom as usual guiding me to when Spring was advancing and the season was getting ready to start.
Clearing the left over foliage from long finished crops and the old plot owners rubbish took many hours of work per day for several weeks to clear off. Also left was a lot of foreign objects which needed removing by hand to enable an effort to start clearing the weeds and old-established crops that had run riot.
As can be seen, even after the initial clearing down; the lower plots were still in a horrendous state when they had been left by the previous person running the plot. The state it was in when taken on and not properly prepared for handover was far worse than this image.
Out came the power tools and the sprayers.
The plot required several runs with brushcutter and then Strimming; and then more passes with a lawnmower to eventually cut it down far enough to manage putting courses of weedkiller on to control the infestation of deeply rooted perennial weed. Dock, Nettle, Couch Grass, Bindweed, Dandelions and all the other usual suspects that take over when land has been left for a year or more.
Then came the task to start removing the annual weeds and the emerging weeds from last years seeds once Spring started and the temperatures rose high enough for the weeds to germinate and start over running the plot again.
It took several applications of weedkiller over several weeks to reduce the weed infestation and start culling the fresh weed growth. As well as intensively clearing the smaller fragments and rubbish left to turn most of the plot into a piece of land that could then be prepared by tilling the soil to the state it is now left to overwinter in.
About half of one of the full plots still has fruit canes to be dug out and all stumps removed from previous shrubs. so for another year will not be workable or productive. Regardless, it means that an eyesore has been handled and removed and I’m pleased with the efforts and results.
Plans made and gambles taken.
One of the early plans I had hatched to tame the lower 2 plots was plant a crop of Main Crop Potatoes to start working the land with an initial double dig method to bring the land back to a productive state. I selected a well-known, tough, productive and heavy foliage variety of potato called Sarpo Mira. A beast of a spud and large-sized so ideal for me as it produced man-sized Jacket spuds; which I love.
The large foliage from this varieties tubers had previously shown it did indeed have the ability to outgrow and suppress weeds when I used it before on my allotments. So I opted to buy in bulk this year and utilise the new space I had and aim for a large crop of Spuds.
A large chunk of the plot they were sown in did next to nothing for the most, only the first few rows producing a half decent crop. The rest of the Plot just never took off even though it was turned over, and vigorously dug over, well-tended and watered when the weather did not provide enough yet the growth was well below par.
The cost for the seed versus the yield they returned is still in doubt if I lost, broke even or gained as the remaining patch was left to grow and now the frosts have culled the foliage I will go and dig up the remains of the crop and see how I made out int he end on the gamble.
While this was a plan that I hoped would and should work, I still class it as a shortfall thus a failure. It’s saving grace without the bounty of a large supply of potato to see me over the winter is the fact is the ground used has now been attended too and is in a more advanced state of productivity for next year.
I’m not sure of the ground just wasn’t ready for crop production as it is lacking in nutrients or it just needed another year to rest. Either way I will see if I can enrich the soil with organic matter and beef it back up.
Bring in the serious Horsepower.
Come Late Summer a new tool made life down the Lottie much easier. The arrival of the Hyundai Rotavator made work progress at a phenomenal rate and I got to catch up with the workload at long last.
The struggle to get the rotavator was a long story, one that will be posted about in time.
It didn’t take more than a few weeks arm wrenching graft lugging the rotavator over the land several times to bring it to a rough tilth. The Spring of 2018 will reduce it further and hopefully give me a deep bed to work with and a finer tilth to be productive and easier to work with.
Then there was the mulcher.
Also acquiring a leaf blower that served as a vacuum and mulcher was the next serious leap forward to happen. Now being able to collect large quantities of leaf in Autumn will provide a basic level of Leaf Mould production. This will be essential to produce compost suited to seed propagation and when further composted allows me to add it back to the working soil as nutrient and structure improvement.
A large working storage area for the leaves was established. Bulk storage and delivery bags purchased for this as well as a new multi bay compost area made from pallets was set up at the bottom end of the plots. This will allow continual turning over of amassed compost and moving it towards a finished product by the time it goes down the line of bays passing each rotting down stage.
This was no small task as it required breaking down the previous compost bay area I initially set up when I took Plot 1 on. The compost had to be removed from the old place and the new section had to be cleared and prepared prior.
Clearing the new area was another task of rubbish removal and no small feat.
I now have several large bulk bags of leaf mould in the making though!
New Flower beds and the start of borders.
Several new flower beds at the bottom and top of some of the new plots are being added and stocked. These are hoped to eventually be turned into something that helps support the local Town’s In Bloom efforts for Country, Region, County and Town prize competition.
The local support for these have already brought award and accolades and it would be nice to step up and offer something else to join in with the huge community spirit and support for these events.
Some of the highlights of Flower stock coming through this year.