Bringing It All Back Home. Allotment Chronicles.

Allotment tales and art.

Sunday the 30th of December

A new year gardening plan

Measured the plot today, its exactly 11 x 5 rods, (or perch) an old measurement for allotments.

Made a plan for the plot in 2019.

In no particular order: Move the mushroom bed. Research plants that cope with drought. Distribute the remaining cow manure on the soil.

Install a new window into the shed. Prune the apple trees. Fix the green wheelbarrow wheel. Clean the pond and buy new pondweed and barley straw.

Stabilise the old shed. Fix the old shed drainage pipe. Weed the rhubarb patch. Research and plant winter vegetables.

Grow courgettes, not marrows. Grow pumpkin and squash. Grow peas and beans x 3.

Design, build and locate a new sculpture from recycled and old waste materials. Repair the Ransome push mower (buy an old ransom mower for spare parts)

Lime the cabbage patch. Add fish bone to ailing shrubs and young oak tree. Finish repairing the paths. Research companion planting.

Research no dig gardening.


Bringing It All Back Home

Brought home a bag full of apples that had been stored in the shed in cardboard boxes, they have kept well in this way.

Bringing It All Back Home. Allotment Chronicles.

Allotment tales and art.

Sunday the 2nd of December

Raking autumn leaves

I love autumn, the changing colours of autumn leaves, its a milestone, another year gone by and spring to look forward to.

Today I raked autumn leaves from all over the site using a good old fashioned rake. I can’t understand why people have to use noisy energy consuming blowers, because they are their presumably, when you can get some good exercise and meditate upon the act of raking, a traditional activity and not unlike scything.

The leaves are placed in a home made wooden purpose built frame from discarded palettes. When covered, to keep them from blowing away, they rot nicely and can be used the following year as an excellent mulch for potatoes and all round soil enhancement, I like the idea that this years old leaves are helping next years harvest.


Bringing It All Back Home

Brought home some more kale though its getting a bit tough now, I read that the frost helps improve the taste of kale and other winter vegetables such swede, turnip and chard.

Bringing It All Back Home. Allotment Chronicles.

Allotment tales and art.

Sunday the 19th of November

Swan Vestas (Smoke Gets In Your Eyes)

Fires on Birmingham allotments are now restricted to November and March, by order of the council. I am unable to find an explanation for this but I guess its something to do with pollution? Fires are good for burning a variety of materials such as old dried out weeds, (especially marestail tail, commonly known as the devils entrails) hedge cuttings, old wood left over from maintenance and any other suitable combustible materials acquired over the course of a year, cardboard, paper etc. The ashes make potassium, calcium and trace elements and are good for improving the soil but don’t put them on acidic plants such as soft fruit. I tried to grow carrots this year by degrading the soil and filling it with ashes but alas it didn’t work.

The smoke from fires gets deep into your clothes and can smell weeks later even after washing, but on a cold November day, who cares.

Bringing It All Back Home

Brought home some more kale and a handful of turnips. I feel a stew coming on.

Bringing It All Back Home. Allotment Chronicles.

Allotment tales and art.

Sunday the 11th of November

Make Do And Mend. The Low Carbon Low Cost Renovation of an Allotment Shed.

Sheds are interesting places, allotment sheds in particular, full of junk, bric a bric and cobwebs and memories, each one is different and closely associated with the identity and personality of the owner. Some are brand new and straight out of the warehouse, paid for to be erected on site, others are delapidated and in ruins. The sheds on “plot 99” have a long history and are associated with the anti-capitalist philosophy of forgoing new in favour of second-hand, recycled, renovation, repair and self installation.

Historically we have always had two sheds, two old wooden ones, both of which over twenty five years of weather have deteriorated. One was very small and so bad we burnt it and replaced it with an old but still functional wooden shed languishing on another allotment. After a stroke of luck and generosity we acquired this shed and rebuilt it ourselves on paving slabs bought cheaply from ? We then repainted it with ? to protect it and attached cheap roofing from Homebase, all at a cost of ?

Another shed, a robust tin-shed, was scrounged from my neighbour who was throwing it out to replace with a new one. We transported this to plot 99 at a cost of £30 but slowly realised that the aesthetics of plot 99 were better suited to wooden sheds, that a tin shed the size of this one may attract robbers. (A perennial problem on allotment sites) This tin shed was sold to another allotment holder for £60 to cover our original transport costs and the proceeds used to repair and renovate our other wooden shed. This other shed of twenty five years standing had an asbestos roof but in the winter of 2017 we finally got rid of the asbestos at a cost of £75. (The council, who own the site, declined to help except by taking it away when fully wrapped in plastic)

The repairs took a a number of weeks and involved reinforcing the old sheds roof and sides before a plastic sheet roof could be attached, for this we bought two 8ft x 2inch square wooden beams from Homebase at a cost of £16

We bought fixing screws and plastic tops to fix the plastic sheeting roof from Homebase at a cost of £10

We were given six sheets of plastic sheeting by a friendly landlord and walked them up to the plot ourselves.

We were advised to buy the regulation foam underlay for the roof as it prevents crack and breakages, unfortunately it cost £100 so we decided to do without and use old bubble wrap instead.

The shed will now be used for storing vegetables and as a nursery for new young plants.

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