Before Christmas I made the effort to clear the plot, cover it with compost and re-cover the paths with woodchip, as it was getting decidedly untidy. It took about 50 wheelbarrow trips to and from the compost and chippings heaps which was pretty exhausting and repetitive, but worth it knowing that the plot would benefit from the hard work. I also sowed broad beans, onions and garlic so they could overwinter.
It is not a large plot. Plots in London are so sought after that often only small plots are allocated. It is probably half the size of my last plot, which itself was half the size of what might be considered a full plot of 10 rod. So, it is probably a quarter of the size of many plots around the country, although I realise that there are probably many variations nationwide in terms of plot size.
Anyway, it's a small plot, which suits me as it is possible for me to manage it myself as my partner is not particularly interested in helping me to tend it. I can cycle to it along a canal tow path, which is a lovely ride on a nice sunny day. I love to check out all the narrow boats moored along the canal which many people in London (and other parts of the country) choose to live in. I quite envy the simplicity of life in a narrowboat and not being able to accrue much clutter because your accomodation just won't facilitate it. It never fails to amaze me how resourceful people are who live in small spaces.
I digress. Back to the allotment. So, I visited this weekend, and took a few pictures to show you my plot in winter. You can see the newly woodchipped paths and the rich dark compost added to the beds. The boards separating the beds have seen better days and need completely replacing but I'm struggling on with them for the moment.
There are a few crops currently growing:
Some lovely lettuce leaves which seem to have survived the snow but are looking a little bedraggled. I must go back and harvest them before frosts completely destroy them.
Some spinach which is also looking a bit worse for wear after the snow.
Some broad beans which are growing well and which I must remember to nip the tips out of to help prevent black fly infestation.
There are onions and garlic which have now sent up shoots.
There is lovely dark green kale, some of which has been reduced to mere stalks by the birds and some which seems to have been left alone although not visible in these photos.
There are carrots overwintering.
And finally there are the perennials; artichokes, herbs, strawberries, rhubarb, horseradish and a gooseberry bush.
The back of the plot has always been a little wild and gets very overgrown with nettles, comfrey, and bindweed during the summer months as the growth on the other side of the fence rarely gets cut back and creeps in. I try to keep on top of it but sometimes it does get the better of me.
There are some flowers on there that provide a bit of colour in the spring and summer, mostly just Forget-me-nots, English marigolds and Hollyhocks which self seed or come back year after year.
The old chicken manure buckets down the end are what I use to brew comfrey juice to feed the vegetables as they grow. It is so simple to just cut the comfrey leaves and place them in the buckets to rot down, dilute with water, siphon off the juice and use to water the plants. I also use these leaves to speed up decomposition in the compost bin too, as they decompose very quickly and help the contents of the bin along a bit.
So there you are, allotment laid bare. (Literally!) I'll post throughout the coming seasons and you will see how it changes at different times of the year. Don't expect a neat and orderly plot as I am not really that kind of allotmenteer. It tends to be a bit ad hoc with things getting sown in gaps that arise. I always look forward to the new growing season but sometimes things don't always go as planned. I'll keep you posted.