The Allotment Diaries

1st August

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When the Committee announced that they’d had another 20 tonnes of top soil delivered yesterday, we decided to spend an hour or so filling our raised bed early this morning.

The first thing I did was to re-measure the bed – which is now confirmed as 189 inches x 47 inches (internal) and 189 inches x  54 inches (external).

 

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We completed a thin layer on the bottom, and I sprinkled chicken poo pellets over the bed.  Then we continued filling the top (West) end, which is furthest away from the soil heap.

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Despite some well-intentioned advice from a chap walking his dog, about only raking AFTER we’d filled in with compost, we continued working in our own way.

The reason I raked the bed, before it is completely filled is that there are large clumps of soil which I couldn’t break down – and which went into the middle of the bed – AND I was trying to get soil into the corners AND along the sides to hold the weed-control liner in place.

While I have planned our every activity to expend the least amount of energy (start at the back, work our way forwards – it makes it easier next time), the driver of the delivery lorry had not considered what might happen if he parked his truck on top of a sand and gravel bed AFTER THREE DAYS OF RAIN!

 

Apparently it’s due to be towed out by tractor later.

(I’ve hidden the name of the company to spare the driver’s blushes).

10 August

They managed to get the lorry out, though not without some effort judging by the deep grooves left.

Today was volunteers day – Fill a Bed: Build a Fence.  Only one of these things happened, and it wasn’t the fence!

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We made three trips from the car park to our raised bed carrying old compost bags filled with home-made compost (and worms) from my old green compost bin.  We spread this across the bottom of the raised bed and continued filling it.

There was a great community spirit with everyone joining in and helping to fill each other’s beds. Nine out of ten are filled now.  We only left the tenth in case they wanted to put down weed-control membrane before they started.

It’s been great chatting to the other bed-holders and finding out their level of experience. – anything from ‘love growing things but haven’t the room’ to ‘never done it before, keen to give it a go.’

One bed, rented by a childminder, has even been planted up!  I suppose the joys of looking after other people’s children is that you always have a willing army of helpers with buckets and spades.

I only got as far as measuring my plot to map out my three  4 feet x 4 feet beds and my four 9 inch x 4 feet strips for my bee-friendly plants – crocus, lavender, rosemary, lemon balm etc for the bees.  There are hives across the river, which is just down a steep bank at the rear of our part of the site.

We’ve still got a few more bags of old compost to bag up and take down to site.  I need to step up compost production in my new bins.  Fortunately, though not for our larder, all my chard has bolted, so needs pulling out and composting – just as soon as weather conditions allow.

The Final Plans

I’ve adjusted the plans to take account of the slightly narrower bee-friendly beds which I thought would be 12 inches but turn out to be three at nine inches and one at 10.5 inches.

Year 1Year 2Year 3

All we need now are a few days of warm, sunny weather to dry out the soil and our lovely worms to make a start munching through the lumps.

There will be no planting in this bed this side of Christmas!

I’m going to start my garlic and crocuses off in pots in September.  I’ve already taken lavender, rosemary and lemon balm cuttings, so more of those are needed too.

The next volunteers day will be all about the fence.

 

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