I am writing this post to cheer myself up. I’ve been busy knocking my allotment into shape for the growing season ahead and I think I’ve overdone it. Somehow no matter how much I dig and how many hours I spend trying to get through the jobs on the list, they just never get all ticked off. I’m the same with decorating the house. It is only once the job is completed that I feel the slightest glimmer of hope. So with still loads to do I decided to look back to see how far the plot has come since I first wrote about it here on my blog in October 2009. Looking at my original ‘before’ pics is helping me recharge so I can get out there some more.
I set out to plant a garden specifically with preserving in mind, so the bones of the plot are my fruit bushes; blackcurrants, gooseberries, white, pink and red currants, strawberries in abundance and rhubarb even more abundant. There’s a row of blueberries as well as raspberries and angelica, a mirabelle plum tree and an old English greengage. So the second season begins on an optimistic note even though I am momentarily gloom and doomy.
Thing is there is still a whole lot needs to be done. I’ve ordered asparagus crowns so their patch needs to be well and truly weeded and ready when they arrive in the next few weeks. The stone wall that bounds two sides of the plot has been cleared of ivy and I plan to plant along it, with some espaliered fruit trees, like apricot, fig and cherry along the top edge, where the most sun reaches. The ground along the wall is full of the roots of the ivy, nettles, ferns, ground elder and brambles, so the clearing out involved is quite exhausting and I’m impatient for it to be sorted so I can plant this season. That is the part of gardening that does my head in, learning to be patient and accepting the limitations that time allows.
I’m quite pleased with the layout of the plot. The beds are all rectangles and squares made up as I went along, so the look is quite orderly but asymmetrical at the same time. I bought a job lot of old scaffolding planks last year intending to use them to edge the beds but I’m liking them laid down to form the paths between the beds with some hessian coffee sacks also covering some of the paths like fitted carpet. They’ve been pegged down with bent wire pins and will last for a year, hopefully longer, but in the meantime give the plot a nice tidy look and keep the weeds away. We have problems with rabbits and pheasants on the site, so you have to be on the defensive whenever anything is planted. Happily, there are fewer slugs and snails than I’ve ever experienced before.
With April upon us, it is now time to plant some seeds to fill in the gaps around the fruit. I’ve got some straightneck squashes to sow, that I loved in bread and butter pickle last year, dill for more pickling and borlotti beans for drying. My garlic for pickling scapes is growing well and hopefully the rabbits won’t take a shine to it.
The rhubarb is doing splendidly. I’ve harvested a few stalks already and will have more in the weeks ahead even though I need to go easy on the cropping as this is still early days. I think next year it will come into its own and again some patience is called for. Today I noticed there were a few flower heads starting to form, so it was necessary to cut them off so the plants don’t waste their energy needlessly.
I have high hopes for the strawberries planted last year. Fingers crossed they will do well this year and the preserving pan will be ready and waiting when they do (and some will be consumed fresh as well of course). I haven’t finished weeding the second strawberry patch yet and already have plenty of little plantlets potted up ready for a new home in my garden. Well, I’m feeling cheerier already. I’d best get out there and continue with the digging.