I’m sat at home writing this and I ache from head to toe, and I really cannot wait to climb into bed tonight! Mr T, Ava and I spent this morning at the allotment having a general tidy around to prepare for planting. The ground is still much too saturated to do any weeding or planting just yet, so the back area and started dismantling our chicken shed.
Last spring we had a bonfire at the bottom part of our allotment to clear some old wood. One of the embers landed on our trampoline and set fire to the netting. I removed the damaged netting today, and we can’t decide between buying new netting, or sinking the trampoline into the soil so it is at ground level and the children can just step onto it. The first option could be expensive, and the second will take a huge amount of digging!
The munchkin temple
Last year, we constructed a little wigwam for the children to play inside. We planted ‘munchkin pumpkins’ from Sarah Raven round the outside and planned from the them to grow up and create a little den for the children.
The ground where we planted the sprouts and built the temple was full of couch grass, but we didn’t have time to dig it. We made the decision to rotavate to save time. As you can see above rotavating left the ground looking beautiful and clear, but it also cut up all the rhizomes from the couch grass up into little pieces. Within a few months it was overrun with couch grass again and we were just unable to keep on top of it at the same time as harvesting our other crops. The munchkins around the wigwam didn’t survive. We also planted others near our shed and they didn’t have to compete with the weeds for nutrients, they fared much better!
Rotavating couch grass
Lots of people say don’t rotavate couch grass. I say, if you want to try it – go for it (but be prepared).
Rotavating couch grass does cut up the roots, each root will form its own new plant and it will grow back quickly, BUT it will be much weaker. The more you have chance to rotavate the better, the smaller and weaker pieces it will leave and the less it will grow back. If you are planting in the area you will need to keep weeding and pull of much of it out of the soil as you can, it will be hard work.
We cleared our allotment this way. We dug the top part of turf off and rotavated the rest, meaning we were able to start planting in our first year.
The cabbage and sprout beds
I removed the last of the old cabbage and sprout plants that remained from last years crops. The sprout bed in particular is still full of couch grass and I will need to double dig the area to clear the rhizomes from the soil before we rotavate the bed this year as we have more time.
The chicken shed
Last year we started building a gigantic chicken shed at our allotment, we planned to have half to home our chickens, and half for storage. In the meantime we looked after Mr T’s sisters three chickens, and we realised that our chicken shed at our allotment was far, far too big. Mr T jokes it would have been like a luxary chicken hotel, and we would have had chickens for miles around coming to visit.
Mr T started to dismantle it today, and are planning on using the wood to build a storage shed at home instead. We have bought a second hand chicken house which we are slowly restoring, before hopefully getting some chickens this year.
The little shed & pond area
This area is where I did most of my hard work today, but there is lots more work to be done.
We plan to build a little pond at the side of the shed this year, and I made a start clearing the area. This back area has been used as a storage area last year and we had put boards down on the floor to stop the weeds growing (like the ones you see lent against the shed, but double the size), then we had stacked wood on top. I have moved most of the wooden planks, but we still have a few more to move. I forgot to take a before photo, doh!
I gathered all our garden canes and have separated them into height order against our apple tree, while we find a more permanent home for them. The ground at the side of the shed is very uneven and needs leveling before we start to build the pond.
Our poor little shed is looking worse for wear and needs a little tlc. We placed it really high up on top of breeze blocks as this area flooded badly the first winter we had the allotment and we don’t want our tools floating away! It does look a bit odd being so high from the ground and I can’t think of a way to make it look a bit nicer. I do have some beautiful ‘wild thyme’ cuprinol paint to paint our little shed later this month, and a window to replace the old window which was broken last year too.
All we need now the whether to stay dry for a few days so we can have a bonfire
The big plan for our allotment this year is to level the ground. I am not sure how well you can see from this photo but right hand side near the gate is much higher than the left. All the water drains to the lowest point, and at the moment there is water stood on the path and inside the polytunnels. We are hoping to grass the paths once the ground is level.
We have heard today that the allotment the right has a new tenant too, which is exciting. It will be lovely to see the plot used again and hopefully will mean less weed seed and weeding for me, happy days!