March 2007

It started as a search for bricks to line the allotment paths. It’s now developed into acquiring a whole conservatory at the beginning of April! But it’s just too good a chance to miss, the offer to help take down a conservatory in exchange for having it taken up to my allotment … glass, polycarbonate roof, window surrounds, doors & supporting beams as well as the original bricks.

So the end of March sees me reprioritising the next few weeks, & the aim to rebuild the wobbly shed some time later in the year looks like it’s now going to be the main focus over the next month or so. Needs doing since the plastic window has kept blowing out in spite of me placing struts to support. It’s now boarded up.

The compost bins will move first, & I’m working out the design in my head before committing to paper. Going to be a single structure comprising part shed, part greenhouse. A single large sloping roof to enable rainwater to run into water butts. Possibility of a veranda to sit out on late summer evenings & watch the sun set. Going to need a large bit of paper for this plan!

So what’s happened in March? Well, put quite a bit of my compost mixed with well-rotted horse manure out onto the beds. It’ll take a couple of years or so for me to build them up but they’re already starting to look much better. Not nearly so sticky with clay.

Managed to persuade the foreman at a nearby building site to let me recover wood from pallets that were lying around the site. The attraction is that these are long pallets & the wood is pretty substantial, so after a couple of morning sessions I came away with about 50 planks 8ft by 6ins by ½ins. Perfect for shed making, would have cost me well over £100 & all for the cost of a six pack for the foreman & ground staff. See picture on right (double click to enlarge).

Bought quite a few rhubarb plants (Timperley Early) from Woolworths (£1.99 for two) & planted them out. Finished the cold frame & started putting seedlings in … lettuce, spinach & leeks I’d started on a windowsill late February. I’d started 4 types of tomato plants at the same time, the earliest I’d ever tried, & they’re going well in my greenhouse, see picture on left. Also started oregano & peppers as well as some flowers. In the past I’ve found windowsills not particularly successful to germinate seeds, but I’ve now found a really sunny & warm spot that’s seen every attempt successful so far.

There’ll be no shortage of onions in the coming year … planted out a whole bed along with a few shallots, somewhere over a 100 onions! But they’re just so easy to do & really give me a kick when lifted & drying out at the height of summer.

Planted out seeds for spring onions, beetroot, swiss chard, turnips, lettuce, radish & cabbage, the last three of which are showing through already. And managed to get the plum tree I’d been after, see picture on right. I’ve planted this just at the entrance to my plot.

Got all the spuds planted out … Rocket for earlies & Desiree for main crop. Divided up my globe artichoke … although it is only a year old it already had good offshoots that I’ve transplanted. Got broad beans planted out too.

Phew! So that’s 15 different types of vegetables I’ve started this month. I’ll hopefully get ‘My 2007 planting directory up & running in April, but I’ve put a few pictures below. Certainly a better start than next year, but what impact will the new shed construction have on that, & how far will I have got by the end of April? Read the next instalment to find out.

Thanks for reading my blog. John

This month's photos (double click to enlarge)
The location for the new shed & greenhouse ... with compost bins shortly on the move (again!)
Completed cold frame with lettuce comfirtably installed
Globe artichoke split, with offshoots still recovering against the fence
Lettuce seedling
Radish seedlings
Cabbage seedlings
Peppers sprouting

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