Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Winter Allotment

Warning: this post contains ugly pictures...allotment under construction. 

The weather is still decidedly wintry here in Northern England. We had a couple of amazingly mild weeks in the beginning of February, but since then it's been the icy winds from the North pole. During those nice weather weeks I burnt weeds on my patch.

It took me ages to get the fire going at the rate that was enough to destroy semi moist weeds, the dry ones went into flames faster than I could feed the fire. See, there is a rule that the fire should be small, but if the fire is small, then it is difficult to burn the weeds. I managed it, but did come home stinking of smoke and hair full of soot. I think I have sussed it out now...

This time of the year the allotment wields just a bit of winter veg. I have already lifted most of the root vegetables, but still have some kales like Nero di Toscana and the curly one:

Although I have lived here a good while now, I am still full of wonder that is winter growing. I can harvest in the middle of the winter?!?!? For someone who grew up with winters in frost and snow this is absolutely amazing. This is my harvest of purple sprouting broccoli and carrots from yesterday:

I don't grow carrots during the summer for autumn harvest as the allotments are riddled with carrot flies. You have to be covering them up and weeding under a fleece etc to have a success. I sow my carrots in the late summer to have some carrots for Christmas and beyond. I might have a go doing them in the polytunnel next winter.

The tunnel has winter greens, salad leaves, pak-choi, parsley and coriander. We haven't needed to buy any green salads this winter, nor have we bought green herbs. In addition of what is growing here, we froze some of our herb harvest from the summer. Financially that is probably where the savings are biggest; herbs and winter salads.

Outside I have continued building the beds, I might have shown you pictures of this before, but here goes; garlic bed (the garlic is showing now!) and the bean fence.

The preparation for the runner beans. They can take the rotting compost dug deep under where they grow. It gives them extra moisture and heat. Same goes for the cucurbit family.
I will prep positions where they are to grow shortly.

In the picture above you see a fence behind my compost bins. Behind the fence there is five more metres of allotment. Unfortunately some of the previous occupiers have piled a lot stuff there. There is organic matter, which doesn't bother me, I can sieve it, burn it, re-distribute it in my allotment. It is the rubbish, that is buried there as well, that annoys me. And the tree/bush. It grows on the high ground and makes this end of the allotment shady. I have asked the society and it is Ok to take it down. I will sort out that pile of rubbish, but not just yet. Why? There was a similar problem in the other end, although no organic matter...just plastic, rusty metal, broken glass, broken glass, broken glass. I have been tidying that up last year and during this winter and this is what has come out. (Only a fraction of the whole, lots of it has been carted to the dump already):

I really don't understand how anyone would do this. The plant bed on the right is one of the areas and I cleared that length last summer. The bed behind has just been cleared and we planted a damson tree in the corner.

The amount of broken glass is totally surreal. I think that the occupiers have collected glass panes to make a green house and then not got around to do it and the glass has got broken. There are still whole panes here as well.  I will need to think how to get rid of the big ones.

I can make a mess too. I have been piling wood and other useful stuff into my coldframe while I am working around it to stop all the weeds growing. Just to remind myself about this stage of the construction:

I hope to take some more pictures now that I have even more bits sorted. The coming weekend should be mild here, so I hope to get working again. Are you still under snow or is your garden maybe in full production on the other side of the equator?


Julie said...

I'm a bit late in checking on your allotment progress. Must admit amazement at the fact that you can grow/harvest carrots in the winter. And carrot flies? Never heard of them. ;)

The tunnel is fabulous. If only we could do that here. I'd hate to tote up the amount of money we've spent on greens/herbs this winter!

Hubby has everything ordered for planting when the allotment becomes available in late May. The association meets this week for their meeting in advance of the season's start.

Enjoy your springtime!

Mama Elf said...

Hi Julie! Thanks for commenting and lucky you if the carrot flies are not a problem. They absolutely ruin carrots if they get their maggots in them.

I hope that your allotment is now in full productive mode...maybe you could take some pictures as you are good at it.

As long as you can have herbs in the summer, you can freeze them. We do that for basil and chives as minimum, as they will die when the cold comes. It saves us lots of money.