Planning for 2021
This time last year, I was full of plans for my new allotment bed. I’d filled it, weeded it, and sowed a green manure crop of red clover, which looked amazing – apparently. I never saw it ‘in real life’ as Welsh lockdown rules meant no driving to take exercise, and plans had to be scrapped. I didn’t go back until late summer.
Fingers crossed things will be better for 2021 and these delayed plans will come to fruition.
We begin with a (not-to-scale) plan from 2019. As you can see, the bed is in full sun all day.
(This is the point where I wish I hadn’t measured my allotment bed in inches and my rabbit-proof cages in centimetres.)
Suffice it to say, there are approximately 61 centimetres ‘spare’ (of the total inside length) when all three cages are on the raised bed (inside and below the level of the top of the wooden sides) and only 2 centimetres clearance between the sides of the cages and the inside of the bed – not much wasted space.
Using the Square-Foot method of gardening as a base-line, I’m working on an internal ground space of 45 inches (114 cms) wide and 50 inches (127 cms) long, for each of the three sections.
I’ve divided them further, as shown here. Each square ‘foot’ is actually 15 x 12 1.2 inches (38 x 31.7 cms). That’s where my maths knowledge runs out.
For my purposes, each of the three main sections gives me twelve ‘squares’ for planting crops.
Which means I can still follow the suggested spacing for various crops. This plan relates to the onion sets I planted on 20th October. Snowball (left) and Electric (right). The numbers in each square relate to the amount of onion sets planted. Yes some ‘squares’ are larger than others – it’s not a precise science, or art.
My plan has always been to grow what I call ‘long-term’ crops in the allotment; those that take a long time to mature, and can be left – mostly – to their own devices. It’s just over three miles from home to the allotments, so I plan to visit only once or twice a week once everything has bedded in.
I’ve included main-crop potatoes as they take a long time to mature (there’s only room for twelve as each needs a ‘square’), parsnips, carrots, brassicas, leeks, along with quick-growing radish and beetroot. I’ll try some Welsh Onions here too (as back-ups) along with Greek Basil. I have Anya and Red Duke or York potatoes on order and, as we are still eating the Pink Fir Apple potatoes (grown in bags), I’m hoping to use some of them as seed potatoes to grow again, especially as they stored well (still in their growing compost, just moved into the Potting Shed to overwinter).
Carrots will be grown in the gaps between the onions as it’s thought the smell of the onions masks that of the carrots, so planting them together potentially avoids the dreaded carrot-fly.
Salad leaves, beans, peas, soft herbs – anything that needs watering, checking or picking on a regular basis will be grown at home in my small raised beds as usual, along with some early and late-harvest main crop potatoes (in bags) plus tomatoes in pots (and possible in the Tiny Greenhouse).
The Park itself is currently closed to the public until March while work is carried out to extend the parking area, and for other landscaping groundworks to take place. This includes a 3 metres soil bank around our allotment space (mainly to the west of the area). As ‘authorised’ users, we’re still allowed access to our allotments.
Orchard Wales has donated 20 fruit trees (I think this is the correct link) – all Welsh Heritage varieties, apple, pear and possibly plum – which are due to arrive at the end of March. The proposal is to plant them into this new bank (hopefully near the bottom and not on top!) on a socially distant volunteers’ day (date to be arranged).