|Plot 17 – The Earthly Comforts Garden|
Assessing the Plot in Detail
|If you read this morning’s episode of The Allotment Plotters – Assessing the Plot in Detail – Part 3 – you’ll recall how Suze and l nicknamed the various parts of the plot to identify them more quickly, especially when it would eventually come to make decisions on how the spaces are best used.|
Those areas are – Polly – Polytunnel, Runner [Chicken Run], Daisy [Wildflower/Wilding Orchard], The Strippers [Strips where fruit trees/bushes will be planted, Mucky Boyz [my compost and worm farming areas], The Rascals [raised beds] and Cottage Garden [the shed and the front plot to it] and all of them combined make The Earthly Comforts Garden.
Episodes 2, 3 and 4 will and do look into the areas a little more closely.
This episode will look at the Mucky Boyz operation area and the Rascals.
The main image of this episode displays the Raised Bed [Rascals Overview]
[All photos 9th September]
Raised Beds 01 – 16
|The Rascals, aka Raised Beds, number a total of sixteen or 01 – 16. Only one of these quantities is no longer functional as a raised bed due to the wooden frames having rotted down over the years and not being replaced. That bed is number 16.|
All the other raised beds were in working order. Not all of the remaining 15 had crops growing in them, and not all growing crops were growing well. Pete and his wife, although they had sown the plants and seeds to the ground in the previous winter and spring seasons, by May of this year, Pete had lost interest in all the crops and, indeed, the allotment plot itself and left everything to their own devices.
Add to that the extreme weather conditions and poor quality health, so it is understandable that some crops didn’t grow as well as they should have.
The day Suze and l visited and spoke to Pete directly was Friday, the 02nd of September. At that point, he had potato crops growing in three main bare ground areas, and once l said yes to taking Plot 17 on board, he started to field strip what he wanted in both plants and vegetable harvest and left us the rest.
On that day, a few more crops and plants were present than the photos displayed, but they were taken. Like sweetcorn, red tomatoes, various ornamental flowers and so on, but that which was extracted formed a tiny percentage compared to what was left that was actively growing and ready for harvest.
The crops left were deformed parsnips, green tomatoes, a couple of green striped melons, undeveloped aubergines and leeks, grown on swedes and tired strawberry plants, which you can see in the gallery below.
Suze and l managed to pull off several pounds of green tomatoes, which are still slowly going red, the two melons and a handful of leeks which we washed and sliced and flash froze for later use. Nothing else was salvageable. The Swedes were okay, but we are not huge fans of these vegetables, so although we saved one for our use, the rest were pulled up and offered to the neighbours of Plot 17.
The decision was made to empty off all the beds, recover the soil, feed, and mulch them in November to see them through the winter months and make them ready for the spring of 2023.
I will discuss our own planned vegetable schedules in season 2.
Composting and Worm Farming
|The images above and below show how l left the twin tunny compost boxes at the end of the day after many hours on the 9th of September. I had fixed the boxes as best as l could and new repairs would arrive the following day. |
The compost mounds which had been left unattended for several months l dug over over twice to freshen them up and get the microbes working again.
One side held a ton of dug over aged horse manure and the other side held the start of a new compost pile.
|The Mucky Boyz operation will eventually comprise two triple composting units [six boxes] and these two tunny boxes above, as well as supporting Dalek bins. In addition, there will also be two worm farms that will support the Plot 17 growing schedule. It will become a much larger composting set-up than l ever had at Willow.|
The operation will sit at the end of the Polly area, alongside some of the Rascal raised beds, and between the chicken run and the Hawthorne hedge.
It will produce 3 tons of hot compost every 12 weeks when it functions to the total capacity. The two worm farms will create around a ton of vermicast yearly and many thousands of worms in the raised beds.
An idea l have been toying with since the worm composting days in Willow is to deliberately feed the raised beds with bokashi kitchen scraps via inserted tubes in the centre of the beds to encourage higher levels of worm activity. I think this will improve the condition of the soil.
You can always tell who is an avid composter and who is not, and l can say that Pete was more the gardener than a keen composter. Like many gardeners here, they are cold composters, so they don’t bother with any elaborate composting set-up. It’s always a case of having waste, chucking it in a box, and letting it rot naturally.
Also, they tend to rely upon horse manure only as compost. Five tons of fresh horse manure is delivered monthly, so the plotters gather it up, store it for nine months, and then use it on their soil.
I am not opposed to horse manure; however, l will still hot compost it, and it’ll be ready in six weeks for immediate use. That’s the beauty of a functioning hot composting operation.
The area l had to clear up on the 9th of September was overgrown and filled with rubbish, old unturned compost, and piles upon piles of month-old and fresher green wastes that needed sorting.
Composting and sorting out the rubbish is a forte of mine. But l will discuss that at another time.
|So there we go the final two areas of The Earthly Comforts Garden – Plot 17|
In the episodes that follow and for the remainder of season one l will show you the journey that Suze and l have taken to bringing life back into Plot 17 and making it ready for a fresh growing season in 2023 as well as just making it a happier place.
See you all next time and thanks for reading.