Squirrel's Garden

Blogging the highs and lows of my attempts at allotment gardening

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Location: Sherwood Forest, United Kingdom

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The March Winds Do Blow

Gales have swept the country this year and the January gales wreaked havoc on our local forests and woodlands. Sherwood Forest had every footpath closed by fallen trees. Seventy five mature trees had to be removed before access was again available to the public. One path has had to be re-routed completely. There is reported to be in excess of another 150 trees, including 4 huge oaks that are being left on the ground to provide new habitat for the woodland flora and fauna.
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It’s not been easy to get the jobs done that I had planned as a result of taking over the plot next to me. There has been several times when it was not possible to do anything without causing damage to the soil by walking on it. Now just when it is getting a little drier and workable I have been confined to barracks for a week with a chest infection. Life isn’t fair sometimes is it? ........emoticom ..... I did however manage to get all my fruit trees transplanted into their new permanent positions before the gales hit and I am in the process of erecting a cage over them which can be netted or fleeced according to need. I have kept the path on its original place which was down the edge of my old plot. This serves two purposes. Firstly it will help reduce any disease going from my old plot onto the new and visa versa, secondly it nicely separates my fruit and flower beds from my vegetables.
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My purple sprouting broccoli seems to have enjoyed the weather and it is looking very healthy. I do think it helped when I tied them into support stakes. I think they would have met the same fate as the trees if I hadn’t done this. This veg is new to my kitchen but I will certainly be growing it again.



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This is the most important piece of equipment down on the farm ... whoops I mean allotment. There is not a single job it doesn’t help with, and it is especially useful when planning or problem solving, or if you want to cultivate good will with other allotment holders on a wet and windy day.



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As you can see from this picture, taken a couple of weeks ago, I am slowly getting to grips with preparing the ground. The heap at the front is the remains of my second load of beast manure. The first, 3 ton load, was spread last November and rotavated into the soil. This load, which was a much larger load, is being stockpiled ready for use later in the year. Neither of the plots had received any manure or compost for several years according to the guys on nearby plots. I lost all my brassicas last year, but I was given some replacement plants and several barrow loads of well rotted manure and told to plant again. The purple sprouting is the result of this. There is a vast difference.

I was recently approached by 3 teenagers, 16/17yrs, who are about to embark on their Silver Duke of Edinburgh award. They want to learn the skill of growing fruit and vegetables and we have decided between us what they want to do. They will be loaned an area of my plot for 6 to 12 months during which they will learn how to grow vegetables organically. They will learn about soil management, composting, crop rotation and pest control. The site Chairman and Secretary will subject them to the monthly inspections and sign off their reports. I am looking forward to working with them as I am sure the learning will be a two way process.

Now all I need to do is decide if the soil is warm enough for me to plant this nut seed or not. Perhaps I will just nibble the edge of it whilst I make up my mind.

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