Finally this week brought us a couple of dry days so I jumped at the chance to continue my construction project at the allotment. I've had a pile of timber and posts sitting on my plot for the past three weeks and in the meantime have organised some farmyard manure drops and an upcoming delivery of mushroom compost. There's no way that I'm going to put any of it on my soil until erosion controls are in place so I've had a lot of motivation for converting my existing beds into raised beds.
The first area that I constructed a frame for in January too me quite a bit of time. I spent ages sawing posts and hammering them into dry soil that just wouldn't cooperate. After weeks of on and off rain my plot has now become the bog that I'm used to this time of year, making the work much easier. Banging posts into mud takes far less effort than driving them into solid clay! I was also fortunate to not have to cut many of the wooden planks so all around the work went by far quicker than I imagined. By the end of the afternoon I finished up the large L-shaped bed and a second frame for my asparagus and rhubarb.
Until recently I've had two small beds for each my asparagus and rhubarb. They were divided by a walkway but in planning my plot for this year I realised I could maximise space by taking it out and planting another row of asparagus crowns in that space. I'm trying to incorporate more perennial vegetables in my gardening scheme and though it will take a couple of years before I'll see any harvests from the new asparagus at least I'll make use of space that was empty before.
Easier said than done though! The walkway between the asparagus and rhubarb beds was last month a packed mess of rocks and nearly solid clay soil. I dug it up then and the frost has helped to break it down a bit. To prepare for the new asparagus crowns I've dug a trench into which I've sprinkled bone-meal along with a wheelbarrow load of well rotted horse manure. It's all forked together now and waiting for me to come back next month to create a nice ridge along which I'll plant my one-year old crowns. The variety is called Connovers Collossal and they should be a good producer in the years to come.
The only thing that really concerned me was that joining up the two areas is a bit of a risk since Rhubarb have long fleshy roots that could overwhelm the new plants. To give my new asparagus a bit more of a chance I've decided to reduce the number of rhubarb plants at the lottie and replant them at home. Anyway, it's nice having rhubarb in the allotment but there are times that I'd have loved to nip outside to get some fresh stalks for early summer desserts.
So from four plants I'm down to two at the lottie and two at home. One has already been planted there and is unfurling the first leaves of the year. I brought the second one home this week and will be planting it up as soon as we have another good day. It's sitting outside the front door at the moment and I think I may use the opportunity to break it into a few crowns to take with to the Seed Swap tomorrow.
It feels good to finally be getting some work done outside and I can't wait to get on with the rest of my plans. My plot layout has reached a point where I'm happy with it as a long-term design and I think it will be much better for both my growing location and crops. Thinking about the area in terms of Permaculture principles has helped and I hope to reap the benefits by this summer. The raised beds, perennial vegetables, mulches, and wind breaks are my first steps and as I learn more I'm sure I'll make my plot into an even more productive space.
Have a lovely weekend and if you're local I hope to see you at tomorrow's event. The Seed Swap takes place from 2-4pm at the Laxey Sailing Club and is free - hopefully it can save you a bit of money and introduce you to some new plants. It was brilliant last year and should be even better tomorrow!