In the beginning . . . . .

messy allotment
What you see is what you get (photo taken roughly late August)

I came to having an allotment soon after I moved to Newport quite by chance. My neighbour mentioned to me there were some allotments along from my house.  I have always loved the innovation on allotments so with that in mind I thought I’d pop along and have a look.  After finding out a wee bit about the allotments I ended up taking on a half of one which is plenty of space for me and my daughter, Freya, to work, 6m by 3m roughly.   We came to take on our patch at the end of the summer and beyond the growing season which kinda worked for me as our lotti was completely over grown and had not been worked for a few years.  As you can imagine the weeds had got in and were dominating the space. Faking around on the ground, someone previous had lain down old carpets and tarps as a weed barrier which had helped but now the weeds were growing through.

I got my water butt and compost bin in place and that’s about all I did for a few months. Luckily there was a giant comfrey plant in the far corner so when I filled up the water butt I also harvested the comfrey plant and popped the leaves into the butt too, knowing that by the time I came to use it it would be a aromatic tea for our soon to be vegi patch. Winter had been a time to now try and clear the space. Some of the old carpets were still usable and I have again lain them down as weed barriers and also they are better for walking on as it’s very muddy otherwise.

I thought rather than try and take all off it on at once I would get a few raised beds together as a starting point.

Raised bed number one I made from scrap wood that I found lying around and filled with a mixture of horse manure, compost and soil that was gathered from mole hills. Walking home after an afternoons work on the lotti I stopped to chat with another lotti lady. She had just got her garlic in and offered me some organic cloves.  My first planting of garlic was made the following day and they are growing beautifully.

Garden lore – plant garlic on the winter solstice and harvest on the summer solstice.

I keep this in mind as a rough indicator when to sow and harvest, in truth I planted mine a wee bit earlier as I was keen  🙂

raised allotment bed
Picture of our lotti 2nd April 2017  (girls toasting marshmallows on our little fire )

We have been having little fires on the ground at the bottom of the lotti and toasting marshmallows.  We wanted an area that we could sit in that was relatively weed free. We have been burning odd bits of old wood and the fire has helped with weed control. We keep moving the fire a little so it gets rid of any seeds and roots in the ground that are unwanted, we’ll see if this is effective.

The first raised bed is in the foreground of the photo, garlic, red onion and leeks planted in it. The slender bed above it has potatoes planted,  King  Edwards and another variety that a neighbour gave me – I can’t quite remember what variety they are. I had a few spare and not wanting to waste them dug a patch of ground up beside the raised bed and popped them in.  Given that I did not prepare the ground other than popping  in some well rotted horse manure it’ll be interesting to see which bed of spuds does best.

lotti work in progress
Lotti on 2nd April 2017

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One comment

  1. Hey Carmen, I’m Amanda and I live locally (Balmerino) and am working for GROW Observatory, which is based at Uni of Dundee. I came to your blog via the Tayport PLANT group. We are looking for people like you to take part in our GROW missions which are activities around learning about how to improve our soil and grow more sustainably, while sharing data on soil to a Europe wide network of growers. There is a free online course which includes some simple experiments which you and your daughter might like to try out? Have a chat to Kaska at PLANT who is signed up to GROW and maybe have a look for yourself here http://www.growobservatory.org.uk . Hope to see you at PLANT some time.

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