Lilly,Dandelion & Burdock
Other than taking sack after sack of chicken muck up the allotment, there’s not much to do up there at present. And what on earth do other chicken owners do with their muck? Our girls seem to generate a shedload and if I didn’t have the allotment, I’m not sure what would become of it.
Anyhow, enough of me talking shite and on to things more pleasant. If there’s nowt to do up the plot, I can at least get planning. And for 2011 I do have a plan. I’m going to be lazy.
Let me explain. In addition to the allotment, I have to work, and I have a family to amuse.
My workload tends to be light in the autumn/winter (hence lots of blogging and brewing beer), but gets very busy in the spring and summer. This doesn’t fit in very well with Mother Nature – just as I’m getting snowed under with work, the plot needs attention, and plenty of it.
As for the family, well, they need a holiday in the summer - just at the time when the plot also needs my full attention, for harvesting and weeding.
So you can see my problem. In past years we’ve wasted bucket loads of tomatoes, courgettes, beans etc, as we’re not here to pick them. So this year I’m going to be lazy. I’m predominantly going to grow things that need little attention and rely on veg that can stay in the ground until later in the year, when my work eases up. I have divided the plot into six beds, and this is the plan.
Bed 1: Gooseberries
I love gooseberries. They taste great, need little attention and fruit early enough in the season that it’s not a problem finding time to pick them. We had half a bed (9 plants) last year and have doubled that to 18 for 2011.
Bed 2: Potatoes
I’ll only put in one row of earlies (Accord) and the rest of the bed will be given over to maincrop (Cara). The good thing with maincrop potatoes is that I can plant them before works gets busy and they will stay in the ground until September, when work eases up. Ideal.
Bed 3: Hops & Strawberries
This is where my new hop frames are. Hops pretty much look after themselves, and again, harvesting time is when the worst of my workload is over. Beneath the hop frames we’ll have strawberry plants. The wife and little’un will
Bed 4: Squash
My favourite. We all love to eat squash and they are easy to grow, trailing everywhere, smothering any weeds in their path. And the big plus is that they don’t need harvesting until later in the year.
Bed 5: Parsnips & Sweetcorn
Parsnips – sowed in March and lifted in November. There couldn’t be a more perfect vegetable to fit in with my lifestyle/workload. And the sweetcorn aren’t usually ready until late August, when we’re back off holiday, so they also fit in ideally.
I’m not using the front bed for veg anymore. We have planted an apple tree and intend to sow the rest of the bed with wild flower seeds, to attract pollinators for the rest of the plot. There’s also a few bulbs in there, to give a bit of colour at the start of the year when little else is growing.
I appreciate we’re missing out on a few staples. I’ll miss tomatoes and green beans the most, but I’ll probably do some cherry toms in the hanging baskets at home, so we can pick them when we need them.
So, self-sufficient not, but there will be less stress, less wastage and we’re only growing things we like to eat, rather than finding room for everything in the seed catalogue. I’m rather looking forward to it.