Monday, 8 April 2013

Down the Allotment

Spring is taking a long time to show up this year, but we are using the time wisely and preparing our allotment for planting! It's pretty exciting.

Most allotments are long, narrow strips of land, measured in "poles". A standard 10-pole allotment is about 250 metres squared, which is a LOT of digging. We share our allotment, and it's a 5-pole, with a chicken house on the end, so it's not a lot of land.

This is our first year to actually plant anything, since we got the allotment too late in the year last year to do anything. It was COVERED in weeds - especially wild blackberry vines, which was a bit tricky to remove. We've just focused on preparing the area for planting and setting up our chickens.



This picture shows the full length of our space; I am standing at the beginning of the land and if you squint you can see a brown bin and a chicken enclosure at the back. (I don't know what my daughter is doing)

Our half is on the left. I have four raised beds and a patch of ground we dug up.


This raised bed at the front will house brassicas. It is 1 metre square, so not a lot of space, but I'm still a beginner! Don't run when you can't walk, etc...


This is the same bed with netting over the top to deter cabbage fly or whatever the nasties are called. Several years ago we tried to grow cabbages without netting and they were destroyed by the caterpillars of these white moth things. Sad.


This bed has a frame of chicken wire over the top, the better for peas and beans to climb. I'm looking forward to watching this get tangled with plants!



These beds are narrower (I was using wood we have lying around the house and didn't want to buy stuff) and are about 800cms squared, instead of a full metre. One will be for root vegetables, and the other will be a mini greenhouse, with clear plastic sheeting wrapped around a framework of some type. That'll be a job for next month, after payday. :)


This patch of ground will be for a three sisters project -- sweetcorn and beans planted side by side (beans will climb up the sweetcorn) and some squash in the middle to cut down on weeds. I'm also going to plant kale and cardoon (some sort of old-fashioned vegetable, no idea). Maybe some more carrots or something.


This is the view from the back of the allotment. Oh, and a few chickens! We have five.



1. Chickens stink.
2. Chickens aren't especially intelligent.
3. We really like them anyway.

The ladies were enjoying the results of our digging very much; they ate lots of little bugs that day, and got in the way of shovels and forks in their excitement! They are ex-battery hens, so it is nice to feel like we've improved their lives in a substantial way. They've fattened up a lot since we got them, and their feathers are so glossy now. I think they are moulting at the moment, so not many eggs, but that's ok. They are a bit like a garbage disposal, and love our kitchen scraps. They are particularly fond of soggy breakfast cereal, cold porridge and leftover pasta.


Chicken enclosure. They aren't as free range as I'd like, but there are foxes about and we need to protect them from danger! They have a little house to hunker down in at night and during inclement weather, and a small yard to scratch around in during the day. We let them roam while we are there, which they love a lot. Someday, we will own our own house with a big enough garden to keep chickens at home. Yes, they smell, but if they were all the way at the bottom and given room to roam all day, I think the smell wouldn't be as concentrated. (yes, yuck)


I convinced my husband to pose for this picture. It's the closest we'll ever get to being farmers...



....but this is how we normally behave. No decorum.