Tuesday, 19 March 2013

A change of allotment tactics

cabbages damaged Mar 13

We had planted out one of our beds on the main allotment with onions and cabbages in the late autumn and then put wire netting around it to keep the hens off. The netting worked until last week when the hens were confined to the allotment. At that point they discovered it was relatively easy to get over the netting and strip any greenery from the cabbages, leaving only skeletons of plants. So on Sunday I dug them up and put them temporarily in seed trays in the greenhouse. They will be allowed to recover and then be taken up to Dad's allotment and replanted there.

Onions Mar 13

The hens had wrecked the onions on the same bed. In January I had planted a load of onion sets that didn't get planted out on the allotment in November because the ground was too wet. At the time I would have preferred them to be planted out rather than go in seed trays in the greenhouse. Now, I have changed my mind. Firstly they were saved from the hens. Secondly they have grown well in the greenhouse. Thirdly, if the hens hadn't got them, the rain and snow would have. Whilst January and February were much drier than the final months of 2012 for us, March has been very wet. The ground had drained during the first two months of this year. Now it is again saturated and we are deep under mud.

We are planning to put in drainage but we have also taken the decision to change the plans for each allotment. Our main plot is home to the hens, ducks, bees and soft fruit. We have grown some vegetables there in the past. Dad's allotment is much smaller and has not previously been fully utilised. Our plan now is to grow all our vegetables on the second allotment and use the main allotment for the poultry, fruit growing and nursery activities (in the greenhouse and polytunnel). I am concerned that even with drainage in the main allotment, it will continue to be too wet to get many vegetables growing. And what does manage to grow will either be attractive to the hungry hens or be dug up by them. The soft fruit canes and bushes however have not fallen victim to hens so we will increase these, possibly even removing some of the red and blackcurrant bushes from Dad's allotment to the main one.

It is slightly depressing however that tomorrow is the last day of winter but the wintry weather is still clinging on. Let's hope there is a change for the better soon.

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