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Planting vegetables and the allotment fox

Today was one of those April days when it felt like I spent more time running to hide in my tiny shed from the rain than getting any work done.  These three photos show how heavy the last rain shower was – the ground was sodden and I was defeated and headed home. I’ve been battling with clay soil the last few weeks and having interesting conversations with allotment neighbours about how my predecessor managed the plot.  One said each year the plot was rotovated until the soil was fine, and the other said he never added anything to the soil.  I think both are evident.  After digging over each bed and filling a compost bin with spring weeds, and then using a tiller to break up the soil, I was disappointed to find a few weeks later the soil was like rock.  Since then I have added more compost (Vitex) and a wheel barrow of manure – I think it is going to take a while to turn this clay soil into something more manageable.  I had intended not to use raised beds on this lovely flat plot but I think its going to be the best method of managing the soil.

I’ve planted two rows of potatoes.  Pentland Javelin first early, and Sapro Mira Organic main crop.  These were planted between rain showers so the ground looks pretty wet and I moved them more to the right as I thought they were too close to the path.  I hope these potatoes can break through the soil.  I planted each potato about 10 cm deep and I will build up the soil as soon as shoots start to appear.

Our allotment committee are selling plants to raise funds to tend to unused plots, and make them more appealing to prospective allotmenteers.  So far I’ve bought these spring cabbage plants for 10 pence each, broccoli also 10 pence, and two pots of onions for 25 pence each.  BARGAIN!  I’ve planted six spring cabbages in a raised bed and covered it with a mesh covered frame.  This end of the allotment is home to hungry pigeons.  I’ve used wool, from some natural packing I had as I’ve read slugs don’t like wool.  I struggle with slug pellets which seem to be sold on how gruesome they can kill slugs – although I am not a vegetarian and have previously lost crops to slugs – slug slaughter does not sit well with me.  I am hoping these wooly nests will work!

Today was quite special as i met a new allotment neighbour.  The first few times I crossed paths with tatty fox we both made each other jump.  Apparently he/she was watching me work – checking me out to see if I was friend or foe!  When I was leaving I walked slowly past its shelter and took a few photographs.  He doesn’t look that well, I’m not sure he could open his eyes – just sniffed as i walked by.

On my way home I was cheered by all the lovely colour appearing in the woods – I particularly loved this apple blossom and we are days away from hawthorn blossom in bloom!

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