Back on the plot

At last, some days without rain. So far winter in Wales has been mild and wet, very wet. I’m not called Wellywoman for nothing. But yesterday the sun was shining, it was fairly mild considering its January and the wind had dropped so we put on our scruffs and went up to the allotment armed with secateurs.

Wellyman turned the compost heap and the manure pile whilst I tidied up some plants in my perennial flower bed. We pulled out the sunflowers I had left overwinter for the birds to feed on and discovered some early flowering Gladiolis were pushing up through the ground already.

I did a spot of weeding and then cut down the phacelia that I’ve been growing as a green manure. The mild winter has meant it has kept growing and I didn’t want it to get too woody otherwise it won’t break down quickly in the soil. The ground was still a bit too wet to dig and I’m aiming to do as little digging of the soil as possible, so I left the phacelia spread on the surface of the soil. It will provide some protection to the soil when it rains again and will slowly break down and be incorporated into the soil by worms.

The hard work I put in last Spring making paths and defined growing beds has been a real success. It has given the plot structure so that even after a two week holiday in June and in midwinter the plot looks neat and tidy and most importantly I have limited the amount of space I need to weed.

At the end of my plot is a small storage area which needs tidying up, a task for this week I think. It proved a difficult spot last year because the path there is grass and I don’t have a strimmer. The grass got so long at one point last summer I lost the hosepipe in it. So I’ve decided the grass is going, if I stack it somewhere it will rot down and make lovely loamy soil and I’m going to get some weed membrane and make a path like the rest on my plot. It will make life that bit easier and I’m all for that.

Others at the allotment are coming out of hibernation too and it was nice to be able to have a chat again with my fellow plot holders.

I was really annoyed to discover though that the tenants of the scruffy, unloved plot next to mine have not been kicked off. The word on the plot has been that they would get their marching orders at the start of this year but apparently they have been given another warning. It is annoying on many levels. Firstly, when they do have a tidy up they stack the waste up in a pile and then it blows onto my plot. Secondly, they don’t keep their paths tidy so I can barely get my wheelbarrow down the path in between our plots. Thirdly, they don’t keep on top of their weeds so they set seed and blow all over everybody else’s plots. Fourthly, they picked a few punnets of raspberries and gooseberries last year and that was it. And finally, there is someone on the waiting list who actually wants an allotment.

I think there might be a bit of allotment politics going on. There was a tree that was planted a long time ago on the plot that shouldn’t have been, the tenant passed away and the plot passed to family, the tree was finally removed, half the plot was given to someone else, hosepipes were chopped up and the plot has been left to become overgrown. A couple of rows of runner beans were planted, never watered and were the most forlorn looking site over the summer. As a newcomer to the allotments and the village I don’t understand the politics at play. I just don’t understand why you would hold onto something you clearly don’t want.

But even this can’t put a damper on the sense that Spring is on the way and another gardening year is stretching out in front of us. It felt good to be back on the plot. Now I really must get cracking with that seed order.