Welcome to our plot!

I'm Hazel, and in Nov 2006 my friend Jane and I took on a half plot at Hill Allotments, Sutton Coldfield - we want the satisfaction of growing and eating our own fruit and veg, and to improve our diet (and fitness!).

This is the story of what happened next...........

Saturday, January 20, 2007

So that's the tough bit done...?

After a warm but very windy week it was a beautiful sunny morning today (er….again…) for going to the Hill. It has been so windy that I half thought that I’d arrive to see all the sheds scooped up & lined up in so many piles of matchwood at the one end of the site, but there was no real obvious damage on any of the plots except one or two bean wigwams lurching.

I took a deep breath and got stuck straight in with digging the runner bean bear pit, & have a newly acquired respect for builders’ labourers.

After an hour I had a trench a couple of foot wide & 18” deep - about a spade and a half. It seemed right to do 2 spades deep, but I started to hit a sandy, harder layer made mostly of ..er..hard stuff, so this seemed like a good place to stop.

Just as I finished, the lady & a girl from the stables rolled up in a Land Rover & trailer full of bags of horse manure for unloading by the skip. I gave them a hand to unload & picked out a few choice bags of straw for the trench & started to empty the others into the skip.

Mike the treasurer arrived (so I got a heap of brownie points with the committee for this community work!), & it was short work between the two of us to finish the job.

Jane & E arrived with shiny new spade, hoe & secateurs & with the three of us it was an easy job to empty the straw, massive dug-up beetroot, surplus dug-up leaf beet and a huge black bag of paper shreddings into the trench & fill it back in with the soil.

It looked spookily like a freshly dug grave (albeit a rather long & narrow one), a view which was not helped when we marked the trench with a few token bean stick crosses so we know where to find it again at runner bean sowing time.

E did a marvellous job preparing the soil for a half row of BROAD BEANS (aguadulce) – our first sowing! – & we covered this & the other half row with some fleece which I found in the garage which I hope will give them a winning start in life.

The other half pack of bean seeds will be sown in a couple of weeks time & it’ll be interesting to see if this stab at successional sowing works, or if the later ones catch up anyway.

Jane let E trim our few straggly raspberry canes with new ultra sharp secateurs whilst we cleared up & she managed to complete the job with a full compliment of fingers – which quite surprised me.

Although this huge dig has left me – predictably – knackered (& smelling of horse sh*t), the job was actually easier than I thought that it would be, & now we have a virtually bare plot ready to go.

It’ll be great, of course, when this is a virtually full plot, but I think that the majority of the hard work is done now, & with the garlic planted out & the first of the seeds in, this marks a significant step forwards!

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