Spring has finally arrived. The perennials are beginning to emerge from dormancy, and daylight hours are increasing. I absolutely love this time of year, watching everything come back to life. I saw this tortoiseshell butterfly last week. It’s so good to be back at the allotment.
Tortoiseshell Butterfly, Orchard plot
The past few weeks have been spent getting the plots ready for this season; here’s what we’ve been up to:
We’ve cut down all the green manure (phacelia) and dug it into the vegetable beds. The plant will rot down adding nutrients and providing much needed organic matter to the heavy clay soil.
Phacelia (green manure)
We’ve fed the fruit trees.
Although of course we had to dig out the bindweed and couch weed roots first! We used fish, blood and bone, a good all round fertiliser. We’ll use a little potash (rich in potassium K) later in the season, as the plant starts to flower and fruit. Although some research claims potassium doesn’t directly promote flower growth. However, potassium is still important as it regulates the movement of water and nutrients in the plant cells. So we’ll bung a bit in the soil anyway.
We’ve been tidying the strawberry beds, and we’ve fed the strawberry plants with an organic seaweed fertiliser.
We’re rather excited to have a fourth plot. We’re looking after it for our lovely allotment neighbours, Tony and Maureen. I shall miss them, our chats and all the laughter, but we shall take great care of their beautiful plot. This plot has two large strawberry beds.
Plot4, strawberry bed.
We’ve dug over Plot4. It’s looking rather marvellous. There’s a rather large seam of raspberry canes running two thirds back. We’re not sure if they are summer or autumn fruiting or a combination, so we’ve left the canes and we’ll see what happens.
We’ve dug up all the remaining leeks and parsnips before they start throwing up flower stalks.
Bleu de Solaise Leeks Plot 2
These leeks are still perfect, but if left any longer there’s a danger they may become woody and bitter. Leeks are biennials, as the plant enters into it’s second year it produces seeds, hence the flower stalk. We’ve found if we dig up the leeks by the end of March they’ll be fine, any later there is a danger we’ll lose the crop.
Parsnips are also biennials and as they enter into their second year they too produce a flower stalk. We dug them up, the majority were fine but we had a couple with canker. We grew Gladiator and True and Tender, both are supposed to have a good resistance to canker… clearly not that resistant looking at this!
Parsnip canker, URGH!
Parsnip canker is caused when fungi (typically Itersonilia perplexans) present in the soil get’s into the plant, usually through the crown. The plant may have sustained some damage either from digging or damage caused by pests….. thinking back, it could be that gang of huge slugs that I caught nibbling at them, they have something like 27,000 teeth each! Soil conditions in that bed will need to be improved.
We’ve fed the garlic plants. We planted the garlic cloves at the beginning of November, so they’ve been in the ground for 5 months. We’ve fed them with organic seaweed fertiliser to give them a bit of a boost.
Garlic plants, Orchard Plot
And finally the kale has started to flower so unfortunately it’s time to dig it out.
Cavolo Nero Kale, Plot One