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Some Interesting Progress

It is just about one month since I first took possession of my allotment and I have made some interesting progress. After the driest March on record it seems that we have had the driest and warmest April with none of the traditional April showers at all. The only benefit that this has brought for my allotment is that it has killed the upturned turfs from the initial ploughing and it is very easy to break them up. There is very little effort needed now to dig, but it is turning the soil to dust as the “Crumb Structure” is damaged.

The extremely dry conditions haven’t helped the new plantings either, especially the late raspberries that were planted as bare root. Being “lates” they may catch up and I am just grateful they were not “earlys.” The rhubarb seems to be coping well thanks to all the manure round it, but the stalks are very short. Initially I was trying to water every day, but I am reducing that in the hopes that the plants will go down for the water as surprisingly the undisturbed soil is still damp a few inches below the dust dry surface.

I delayed planting my “Pink Fir Apple” potatoes that had been started off in trays because of the dryness, but have been forced to put them in now anyway, as the shoots were getting too long. I was dreading having to dig out the trench, but with the soil drying up and the heat, the turfs just crumbled as I easily dug out a long trench and earthed them up.

The battle of wits with the rabbits is proving interesting as they definitely don’t seem to like the Garlic, or surprisingly, the Onions that are now shooting. The Laurel stalks that I spread thickly between them are disappearing, so maybe they are distracting the rabbits. Other allotment holders have planted onions without any protection and they haven’t been touched as yet either though. The Jerusalem artichokes are shooting very well and the rabbits are very definitely interested in them, although they will never have seen them before. The underground tubers won’t have started to develop yet, but the rabbits are already digging little scrapes looking for them.

The Chrysanthemums are now protected by home made rabbit guards and slowly recovering, but the Rhubarb has still been left alone and the raspberries have barely been touched so far, even though some fresh, soft, new shoots are starting to emerge from soil at the base of the canes.

Others allotment holders seem to be planting mainly potatoes and onions, probably because they are cheap to start off and fill a new plot. One grower is using large plastic pop bottles with the tops and bottoms cut off to cover and protect their young plants. Two plots have covered their seed beds with low cages of chicken wire and plastic mesh.

It is beginning to look like I might get my original request for an allotment in my home village and that site is going to be rabbit fenced, hopefully! This will make it better for planting smaller vegetables like celery, celeriac, asparagus, radishes, lettuces, etc. Being a little closer to home it will also be better for things like beans that need lots of water as it will be easier to pop down on foot to water at anytime.

One problem for many on the new site will be it’s late construction, as we will have totally missed early plantings of all sorts of things including early raspberries and onion seed that is always traditionally sown on boxing day. Fortunately, I have started a lot of frost tender plants vegetable plants like beans, in trays, so that they can be planted later. 
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