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Goodness, an allotment

March 24, 2012

10 minutes' weeding

It was a beautiful day today, and it was therefore completely lovely to get to the allotment and actually do some gardening – the first real gardening of the year.

Hooray for us!

And look at those lovely primroses!

And that giant rhubarb plant of goodness!
(That’s the big one on the left, for the uninitiated.)

And that’s possibly enough in the way of exclamations for one post?

The best part is that today our allotment yielded our first harvest of the year, a harvest which resulted in a delicious rhubarb crumble – not cooked by me, I hasten to add, but by my lovely and amazing allotment buddy.

Self-seeded parsnips and a few surviving autumn-sown broad beans. Broad beans and carrots sown today. Total preparation and sowing time - about 20 minutes.

So last week, we made a plan for what we were going to do this week, and this week we did it. We used the timer to zap all the jobs – two 15-minute sessions and a 10-minute bonus in the middle. In that time, plus a few minutes before or after, we:

  • Weeded two beds ready for sowing / planting. (Both were dug last autumn so only light weeding.)
  • Sowed carrots and broad beans in one of the beds.
  • Planted autumn raspberries into another – roots I’d dug up from a former life, dug up in the morning and transplanted before lunchtime.
  • Planted peas alongside the raspberries – which won’t want the whole bed this year while they are still getting established.
  • Weeded about half of the permanent bed, including digging up lots of little runners from the summer raspberries.
  • Dug over and roughly weeded about a quarter of the potato patch.
  • Harvested some rhubarb and a good sack of wild, green *stuff* for the chooks.
  • Made a plan for next week.

Raspberry bed, with bonus peas. Total preparation and planting time about 20 minutes.

We laid sticks over the new raspberries to keep the bad fairies away until they’ve taken root. And we used more sticks for the peas to climb up.

They are all sticks salvaged from last year’s Jerusalem artichoke harvest – quite the most useful part of the plant in my opinion.

In fairness, I’m willing to eat modest amounts of artichokes, if cooked properly to minimise the intestinal acrobatics*. But you can’t have modest amounts of Jerusalem artichokes: it’s bucket loads or nothing. And since it’s nigh on impossible to keep them from growing back after you’ve planted them once, we are doomed to grow artichokes every year forever.

(*The trick is to peel them, boil for a few minutes, change the water, boil for a few more minutes, change the water again, and then finish off the cooking after the second rinse. It seems to get rid of a decent proportion of the fart-inducing inulin, reducing the unpleasantness considerably. I exclaim not.)

They are lovely plants, though – tall, robust, honest and productive – as long as you remember not to eat them more than is strictly necessary.

15 minutes digging

Well, all that was very nice, but possibly the most gratifying thing about the day was the amount we managed to do in the potato patch with just 15 minutes of double-action joint effort.

This patch has had squash in it a couple of years running, but always planted through weed matting; I’ve never actually dug it over properly at all. It’s pretty full of couch grass roots but not as bad as it looks, and nothing like as bad as I’d imagined – not too hard to dig, not as full of weeds as it might have been and best of all, because we are only doing a rough dig-and-clear ready for potatoes, rather than a really detailed weed in preparation for some more finicky crop, we’re already about a quarter of the way through getting this patch ready to plant.

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