March was bookended with a flurry of allotment activity at the start and the end of the month, but not a lot in between (is this beginning to sound a bit familiar?).
Even so, I managed to do quite a few of the things I wanted to get done.
- I’ve now removed all the fruit bushes from the main plot and shifted them to the Orchard plot, where I’ve cleared and made a good sized bed for soft fruit. I’ve pruned the apple trees, cut down the sick plum tree, and shifted enough autumn fruiting raspberry canes to complete the row by the hens.
- I ordered, received and planted 20 asparagus crowns – half and half of Backlijm and Gijnlim. 3 crowns from my previous (unsuccessful) attempt at an asparagus bed had somehow survived many years of neglect, and added to the new crowns (with an extra one in one of the packs, so 21 not 20), I now have 6 rows of 4 crowns in a sizeable asparagus plot. We won’t be able to crop them till next year at the earliest, and maybe not get much until the following year, so this is definitely a long term investment not a quick win. But if they are successful then worth every moment of the wait.
- I’ve just received a blueberry bush I ordered online, to go with the one I already have in the garden. I plan to plant them both together, as they need the same conditions – acidic soil, which is the opposite of the very limey soil we have here. Not certain where yet, but it will come to me
- I’ve added a few snowdrops and primroses in the margins of the permanent bed and the herb/wild flower bed
- I sowed quite a few things in the greenhouse, and potted up the tomato plants early in the month. Some things are now germinating, others not yet showing any signs of life. But it’s not so warm in there, so they may take their time.
- I’ve covered what will be my salad bed on the allotment with some fleece, hoping to allow the soil to warm up nicely before I sow / plant out various salad things – should be early in April
- I hoped to get out there again sometime before the end of the month for more sowings, but didn’t make it. April will do.
- The soil is still pretty cool, and the weather has turned for the worse, so I shan’t plant my seed potatoes until early April. But the first earlies will go in soon, to get us our first new potatoes in time for Malcolm’s birthday meal, as usual. The rest can go in a little later, though I like to get them in not too late so that I can dig them before the blight hits late summer.
As expected, we have finally eaten the last of last year’s potatoes (last week), and just have a very few small onions left. They will be eaten by the end of this week, and we will then be eating bought onions and potatoes again. I think that’s pretty good going – June / July through till late March eating only our own.
There is purple sprouting just coming, I expect to pick the first later this week. The new growth of chives are tender and full of flavour, and the first cut made a great sauce for some salmon earlier this week, a large handful snipped and mixed into creme fraiche, and some more used as a garnish for soup.
The broad beans, peas, onions and garlic are all looking good, and should provide good crops later this year.
Swaps and upcycling:
I was lucky enough to be given several pots full of snowdrops and some primroses, by a local Freegler – both things I have been trying to get hold of for a while. So it was a pleasure to be able to offer another Freegler some chives, marjoram and raspberry canes in response to his ‘wanted’ post this week.
Youngest son had to replace the wheels on his van after a hit and run driver damaged one of them and didn’t bother to leave their details or insurance information. I was the beneficiary of the three undamaged wheels, which I plan to fill with compost and plant up with – something. Not sure what yet.
I also took a fire grate left outside a neighbours house with a ‘help yourself’ note, which I intend to use what will be a fire/barbecue space on the allotment. I have prunings and thinnings to get rid of, and it would be nice to combine the occasional bonfire with something good to eat.
March was busy and April will be busier. There are all the seeds to keep sowing, things to plant out, canes to put up for beans, strawberry plants to replant, weeding to keep on top of, grass to mow, edges to trim….. It’s making me tired just thinking about it all.
Plus I want to completely clear and cover the old raspberry bed as soon as I can manage it, with a view to next year planting some cordon fruit trees and making a flower bed – mainly for cut flowers for the house, but also just to look good.
And there are still a few areas that I’m not certain what to do with. But I love the way that the ideas just come when you’re least expecting them to, and suddenly it becomes clear precisely what is the right thing to go there.