I thought you might like a little tour of the plot…
Although it’s looking a bit bare this time of year there are still some interesting things going on.
The first thing to tell you is that the plot is actually pretty small. The National Allotment Society recommends the average UK allotment should be 250 square meters but I don’t think you’ll find many of those in London! Ours is 80 square meters or 20m long by 4m wide.
The allotment site was born with the creation of Millwall docks in the early 1900s so along with many rusty nails, it also means we uncover the odd unusual object such as oyster or mussel shells! How funny to think that back in the day oysters were so cheap and freely available that they were eaten in pies by East London dockers… not something many of us would either want to do or be able to do today!
The allotment site is joined to Mudchute Farm (the Tamworth pigs outside our allotment gate regularly enjoy our discards) and we are encircled by woodland. Some days it’s hard to believe we live in central London!
Throughout the winter we’ve been working hard on the architecture of the plot and have added a number of paths, raised beds and an archway. We practice no-dig as much as we can and the smaller more manageable beds have meant we’ve been able to concentrate compost/manure etc. exactly where it is going to be of most value. Our biggest enemy is couch grass!
Our soil is mostly heavy clay so it can be like digging concrete with a plastic spoon in the summer but it’s fertile with a pretty good PH for growing veg
We have 8 planting areas in total, 7 beds, 5 of which bask in full sunshine throughout the year, two more that are part shady for some months of the year and one fruit/wildlife garden. The only fixed area is the wildlife/fruit garden. Everything else we grow is annual so we follow a rotation system… sort of!
So what exactly is going on at the moment?
Well, quite a lot!
The soil has come through the winter really well and has dried out much quicker than in previous years compared to other still quite boggy plots around us. I’m seriously thinking this is because for the past three years we have applied as much organic matter as we could get our hands on. Shop bought and green waste compost has been used as mulch in the summer, Mustard green manure has been grown in the autumn followed by a homemade compost and manure top dressing in the spring so that the worms can do their thing. Rock dusk has also been applied every spring and for the first time this year I am also growing Phacelia green manure which will be incorporated in May.
So what’s growing?
Growing on the plot at the moment is garlic, onions, herbs, purple sprouting broccoli, potatoes, rhubarb and a variety of soft fruit…. and the odd Easter sweet treat!
Until now the daffodils have been the star of the show but we’ve now also got a number of flowers waking from their wintery slumber… alliums, anemones, saxifrage, lily of the valley, tulips, fritillaria (snake heads) and a Christmas tree.
Just to balance the positivity of this post, here’s one slight disaster and a reminder that I really must learn how to prune – exhibit A the Orange blossom, blooming but looking brutalised. I will try better next time!!