According to Beeton’s ‘Book of Garden Management’ January the ‘Gate of the Year‘ is the ‘last month of preparation,— the processes of vegetation will soon be in full progress‘! Ideally your allotment should be turned over with lots of manure and mulch dug in, ready and waiting for planting and sowing. I am nowhere near ready. I took over this plot in November, and all I’ve managed to do is move my old plot over, create a composting area, erect a shed, and dig over one bed. On the weekends I’ve been free, or not sofa bound with a head cold, its rained or rained so much the week before the clay soil is waterlogged. I think three or four dry days in a row will enable the water-table to ease a little. Digging when its wet is not ideal! Aside from the risk of damaging the soil structure, lifting a spade of waterlogged soil is back-breaking.
So here I sit with a cup of tea, squared paper, seeds, allotment books, multi-coloured pens and Basement Jaxx soundtrack dreaming of dry days and digging.
I’m going to adopt a three crop rotation this year. I’ve marked out four large beds. The fourth is a fixed bed for fruit. Some books recommend a five crop rotation dividing crops into smaller groups, but I’m going to stick to three. Most of the veg listed here will be grown from the free seeds I acquired from my Dad’s allotment association. They were given by a local garden centre as their ‘sown by’ dates, were 2013/14. Lets all chant the mantra ‘Grow your own for free free free’, or as cheap as possible! So here is the plan for plot 73.
Bed One: Roots and Tubers
Last year this was one of two beds planted with Brassica. The crop rotation system recommends planting roots and tubers after Brassica as Brassica deplete the soil of nitrogen, and roots and tubers require very little nitrogen to thrive. (Legumes are nitrogen fixers and draw nitrogen back into the soil).
- Beetroot (Pablo F1 – plus other varieties – I love beets)
- Carrots (Flyaway F1 Hybrid, Chantenay Red Cored)
- Jerusalem Artichokes
- Leeks Musselburgh Improved, Nipper)
- Radish Mooli (Neptune F1 Hybrid)
- Potatoes (early and main crop)
- Spinach (Mikado F1 Hybrid)
- Chard (Ruby, Rainbow)
- Rocket (Discovery)
- Amaranth (Calaloo)
Bed Two: Legumes
Beds two and three were part of one super bed. I haven’t worked out what was planted here, I’m still digging.
- Peas (Cavalier)
- Broad beans (‘dwarf’ the sutton)
- Runner beans (Celebration)
- Dwarf beans (Sonesta)
- Mangetout (Golden Sweet)
- Asparagus pea
- Tomato (Tamina, Sweet ‘N’ Neat Charry Red F1 Hybrid, Gardener’s Delight))
- Sweetcorn (Early Xtra Sweet F1 Hybrid, Snobaby)
- Courgette (Soleil F1 Hybrid, plus some Italian ones my dad grows)
- Squash (too many to choose from – I want Turks Turban, butter nut squash as well as some unusual ones)
Bed Three: Brassica
I’ve not had much luck with Brassica – I don’t think they are suitable for the idle allotmenteer!! This year my spring cabbage had no hearts, and the purple sprouting broccoli survived the move, only to be eaten by four-legged something-or-other.
- Spring cabbage (Offenham 2)
- Brussels sprouts (Petit posy)
- Broccoli (Romanesco)
- Broccoli (Early purple sprouting)
- Kale (Scarlet)
Bed Four: Fruit
I moved the strawberries and raspberries over from my old plot. The strawberries are looking a little forlorn. All the heavy rain has washed soil over the small plants – lets hope they will survive – I have jam plans! I’ve still not succeeded in planting the raspberries – yesterday’s attempt was cut short by a hail and thunder and lighting episode! I found some rhubarb on the plot which I’m quite excited about – but again I need to get it planted!
- Raspberries (Autumn Bliss)