Friday, 17 February 2017

Spring Preparations on the Allotment

St Ives Cornwall - Allotments - February 2017
St Ives Cornwall - Allotments - February 2017

I took a break from website and marketing work today - to get away from the computer and out to my allotment. Really enjoyed it.

I walked out across the fields past Hellesveor and out to the site.

Weather was cloudy but dry and relatively mild - so a good chance to get some work done.

The site looked misty and atmospheric - with cloud rolling down from the Penwith Hills.

Spring is definitely "in the air" at the moment - March is less than two weeks away and I'm continuing with plans and preparations for the new season.

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - Winter
I spent much of the time - in between cigarette breaks and eating my sandwiches - moving more compost from the communal pile on to my beds.

Slightly boring but necessary work - and good exercise.

As mentioned in my previous post - I don't bother to dig it in - I simply dump it on the beds and rake it around a bit. I'll level it off a bit more in March when its time for sowing and planting.

 I focussed on the beds designated for peas and beans this year. Last year they had potatoes which take a lot out of the ground.

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - Winter Field Beans
Elsewhere on the plot - my Winter Field Beans - green manure - are still growing away.

Doing their job providing ground cover and adding a bit of nitrogen to the soil. I'll start cutting these down next month and adding them to the compost bin.

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - Winter - Rhubarb Sprouting
Also - another sign of Spring approaching - my rhubarb is starting to sprout. Personally I hate the stuff, but I know that some people, including Mrs AWASV, love it. So this year I'll take the trouble to harvest it when its young and tender. Rather than chucking most of it on the compost in Autumn as (I confess) I did last year.

I hope to get out to the allotment at least once more this weekend.

Can't wait for Spring and new growing - its been a long Winter!

Need Help ?
If you are new to allotment growing and need any advice - I'm always happy to help - get in touch.
Also - any feedback on this blog is very welcome.

You might also like:

Allotment With A Sea View - Website

Allotment With A Sea View - Facebook

Monday, 6 February 2017

Winter On The Allotment - February

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - February
St Ives Cornwall Allotment - February

A brief gap in the storms hitting Cornwall this Winter allowed me to get out to the allotment.

At last - it felt great to be out there!

A bit chilly but relatively mild compared to recent days - and a bit of sunshine.

I got on with a bit of preparation for Spring.

Mustard Green Manure
The Mustard Green Manure that I sowed in the Autumn has now started to die back.

It has done its job so I pulled it all out and dumped it on the compost heap.

Allotment Growing Bed For Peas
The bed where it was growing was used for potatoes last year. Under my crop rotation plan this bed will be growing peas this year. Potatoes are a hungry crop and use up a fair amount of nutrients in the soil.

So I added some compost to the bed - from the communal pile that was delivered to the site a couple of weeks ago.

Allotment Growing Bed For Peas
As ever I didn't bother to dig this in - I simply dumped several barrow loads onto the ground.

I'll let the weather and the worms do some of the work for me and then just rake it level.

Allotment Growing - Leeks
I was pleased to get some work done - its been a long Winter but Spring is really close now.

I cannot wait to get sowing and growing again and into another season!

There is so much to look forward to.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Winter On The Allotment - January

St Ives Cornwall Allotment - January
St Ives Cornwall Allotment - January

I've finally made it out to my allotment after the Christmas and New Year Festivities.

All is looking fairly neat and tidy - like last year I'm seeing the benefit of the work done in Autumn clearing beds and generally getting things set for a new growing  season.

I also still have some crops in the ground.

The weather in Cornwall has been relatively mild as well - which helps.

It felt great walking across the fields and getting out there again.

Green Manure - Winter Field Beans
The Winter Field Beans that I sowed back in October as Green Manure are doing well - providing ground cover and (to some extent) keeping down the weeds.

This will make it easier to clear the ground in March ready for sowing.

The beans will add nitrogen to the soil and when I cut back the plants they will be added to the compost bin.

Winter - Leeks
I still have some leeks growing nicely - but they will need to be harvested in the next few weeks.

When the weather gets warmer they my "bolt" - forming flowers and becoming less edible. The flowering causes the plant to form a hard core.

Leek and potato soup will be on the menu - with stock made from our Christmas turkey.

Autumn Sown Broad Beans
My Broad Beans - sown in October - are looking a bit bedraggled - and need some attention. That is normal for this time of year and they should soon recover as Spring approaches. I've had them growing under a net cloche for protection.

I think I made as mistake leaving them under cover for so long. Some have started to rot in the damp. Should have removed the cloche earlier. Now done and the beans are staked up. Some air and sunlight should help them to grow on.

So - all looking pretty good on Allotment With A Sea View - can't wait for Spring!

More on allotment growing

Allotment With A Sea View - Website

Allotment With A Sea View - Facebook

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Autumn Allotment Jobs - Leaf Mould

Autumn Allotment Jobs - Leaf Mould
Autumn Allotment Jobs - Leaf Mould

Since September I've been collecting fallen leaves to make Leaf Mould for my allotment.

I've gathered them in black plastic bin bags and then transported them out to my allotment plot.

On the plot I've built a simple leaf mould bin - from four wooden stakes and chicken wire.

I've now filled this, with some of the leaves still in plastic bags, which will be added as the leaf mould composts down and shrinks.

The finished leaf mould will be ready to add to the growing beds in around 12 months time.

More on making  leaf mould on my website -
Allotment Growing - How To Make Leaf Mould

Monday, 21 November 2016

Autumn Allotment Jobs - Planting Garlic

Allotment Crops - Garlic
Allotment Crops - Garlic

Garlic needs a long growing season and so needs to be planted in Autumn, before Christmas, for a crop the following Summer.

It is Winter hardy and so will survive the weather once its established and has roots down.
In fact it will benefit from cold weather later on, as this will encourage the growing bulbs to split into garlic cloves.

Opinions vary as to the best time. One old saying goes:
"Plant on the shortest day, harvest on the longest day."

But it can go into the ground earlier in Autumn.

This year I decided to get mine in early, in September, to help it get established before the Winter weather.

You can buy garlic from seed /plant suppliers - and this may deliver the best results.

Allotment Crops - Garlic
This year I saved a little money and bought two nice looking fat garlic bulbs from a local greengrocer. One thing I checked was that this was a British grown variety. European bulbs,often from Spain or Italy, may not do so well in our weather conditions.

I split the bulbs into individual garlic cloves. I then planted these in rows, about nine inches apart and with the tip of each clove about two inches under the ground.

Allotment Crops - Garlic
I covered these with a net cloche, mainly to protect them from birds pulling them up.

This is not absolutely necessary if you don't have cloches.

Garlic - Grown In Pots
If you don't have an allotment, or have limited space, garlic can be grown in pots in the garden.

In fact you could do this in addition to your allotment crop, as you will have a supply outside the back door in easy reach of the kitchen.

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Building A Wooden Pallet Compost Bin

 Wooden Pallet Compost Bin
 Wooden Pallet Compost Bin

Compost is a cornerstone of organic allotment growing - as I've stated before on this blog.

An allotment or garden should have at least one compost bin - and two, or even three even better.

If time or space do not yet allow - a simple compost heap is better than nothing.

You can then recycle weeds and the remains of crops back into the soil over time. Basic sustainability - weeds and crops take nutrients out of the ground, compost puts them back.

The advantage of having at least two bins is that one can be filled then left to rot down into good compost, while the second is filled day to day. Bin one can be emptied of compost when ready, the contents of bin two turned over into it and so the cycle starts again.

Composting Starts At Home
I have two compost bins in my garden at home.

This allows me to recycle kitchen and garden waste without having to transport it out to my allotment.

 Wooden Pallet Compost Bin
I also have three larger wooden bins on my allotment. I've constructed two of these from wooden pallets.

These are generally fairly easy to get for free if you ask around local businesses - they often have these hanging around and are glad to get rid of them.

 Wooden Pallet Compost Bin
The method of construction is fairly simple. You'll need four pallets, each roughly the same size, although they don't have to be identical. If possible - six wooden tree stakes, roughly one inch square and five feet in length. A roll of medium to heavy duty garden wire. Some fairly heavy duty cardboard in large sheets - old house removal boxes (which I used) or large cartons are ideal.

 Wooden Pallet Compost Bin
First choose a spot where the bins can fit on your plot, somewhere around the edges or corners is usually best. If you are only building one bin to start with, try to choose a spot where another will fit alongside in due course.

Think about it carefully because, while they can be moved later, it will be a major pain. Clear and level the chosen space as needed.

 Wooden Pallet Compost Bin
Starting with the pallet at the back, dig a trench about 6 inches deep, wide and long enough for the pallet to drop into. Place the pallet in the trench, then place wooden stakes in between the two faces of the pallet at either end. Hammer the stakes into the ground, deep enough to be secure. Get the pallet roughly level and vertical (you don't need to be 100% precise) then use wire to secure the pallet to the stakes. Back-fill the trench, again keeping the pallet as level and vertical as possible.

Repeat the above process for the two sides of the bin. Use additional lengths of wire to secure the three pallets together.

Line the three inside faces with cardboard, secured with wire and /or short galvanised nails.This will improve insulation, retain heat and so speed up composting.

Before adding the front pallet, load in any compost material that you already have.

Add the front pallet, dug into a trench, but you could leave out the stakes as it will make removing this side easier. You might want to remove the front later when you dig out the finished compost.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Sunny Days On The Allotment - Just Enjoy!

St Ives Cornwall - Allotment - Sunny November Day
St Ives Cornwall - Allotment - Sunny November Day

Sunday was a remarkably sunny and mild day on my allotment in West Cornwall (UK).

Sometimes I head out there with a list of jobs in my head, dive in to weeding and digging (or whatever) and forget to just enjoy it!

So today - I headed out early - enjoyed a lovely walk across the Cornish countryside - and just pottered about a bit.

For me one of the joys of my allotment is that is an escape from day to day work and worries.

So sometimes - I'll just enjoy!

So - simply - this post is just some photos of a lovely sunny Autumn day on my little plot.

Hope that you enjoy them as well.

St Ives Cornwall - Allotment - Sunny November Day

St Ives Cornwall - Allotment - Sunny November Day

St Ives Cornwall - Allotment - Sunny November Day

St Ives Cornwall - Allotment - Sunny November Day

St Ives Cornwall - Allotment - Sunny November Day

St Ives Cornwall - Allotment - Sunny November Day