Recovering Plot 17

Plot 17 – The Earthly Comforts Garden

Recovering Plot 17


The first three ‘active’ episodes, 2, 3 and 4 of this season [See Directory], showed you plot 17 as it was when Suze and l took it on board officially on the 9th of September. It wasn’t in terrible shape. It was neat and laid out okay and, thankfully, wasn’t overgrown.

It was still a plot that hadn’t been maintained regularly since April of this year. So whilst it wasn’t filled with six-foot-high weeds and shrubbery as some of the other unattended plots were and still are, it very much needed attention.

It needed weeding, pruning, cutting back, and restyling for our specific requirements. The previous letters focused on crops and harvest content that weren’t needed for our table, which needed to be addressed.

In addition, the compost set-up present in plot 17 was crude and very basic. Hot composting is integral to our gardening methods. So this needed to be looked at first and foremost as one of my priorities.

My system isn’t complex, but it is more established and focuses on a defined method of performance concerning producing a workable material for gardening. Of everything in the plot, this had to be working correctly.

So for the first couple of days following the 9th of September, l worked mainly on getting the old structure repaired and the content within refreshed.

One of the other significant issues to remedy and recover from was, in fact, the soils within the raised beds. These were in an inferior condition to the rest of the plot. The three bare ground areas where the potato crops had been grown – Polly, Runner and Daisy as bare grounds were in very good condition. The soil wasn’t ideal here totally due to the pebbles but still way better than the raised beds..

Ironically, the three perfect areas on the plot that need minimal soil improvement will have a polytunnel, a chicken run, and a wilding orchard sited to them. But that is just the way things go. Suze and l are not huge potato eaters, and yes, we will be growing sweet potatoes, but they will be produced in a double-raised bed.

The soil in the raised beds is poor quality, and a lot of work will need to be performed this coming winter to mulch them up and recover them as best as we can for our first season. However, we know it will take time to recover the soil quality from when Mike first created them in 2012 with top-notch soils.

The improved quality will be achieved, but redeveloping a top layer of 25cm of prime growing medium will not happen in the first season. It will need good-quality compost and mulch material applied regularly, but l believe that come the start of our third season or 2025, we should have the raised beds back in the condition they need.

I will be ordering additional bags of soil and compost to what is produced on the allotment, and whilst l currently have a ton of aged compost from the previous letters that l have refreshed as well as half a ton of my compost and also a half-ton of vermicast making for two ton of ready to add material, l have calculated l still need more.

I want to be able to award each of the raised bed’s topsoil this winter before matting a covering of a bare minimum of between 2 – 3 inches of the medium, which will mean ordering another ton of bagged mixed content.

With that in place and the winter approaching, the beds can rest for a few months – start November to end February, by which time l can uncover them briefly and feed the soils again with the new material l produce over the winter composting ready for the season to start in April. The sun will begin to warm the beds by later March.

I wondered how l might continue following those three episodes l mentioned above this first season. You may recall that l stated at the start of this series that Season one would be about taking the allotment on board, recovering, cleaning it, and making it ready for the next stage.

Season two: November 2022 through February 2023 would focus on more specifics within the allotment, like rainwater harvesting set-ups, polytunnel creation, chicken coop and run construction, layout and planting schedules.

Season three: March 2023 through October 2023 would explore our first growing season, and seasons to follow would flow naturally from that.

So for the remainder of season one, l will show how we have recovered plot 17 from the 9th of September. You will see the transformation from September 2022 to the end of November 2022 in a diarised entries way comprising several posts that display how the layout repairs have been created from broken down to functioning.

Thanks for reading.

I hope to see you next episode.
The Allotment Plotter’s Directory

Published by The Autistic Composter

Earthly Comforts is a wildlife journaling scrapbook focusing on the countryside, wildlife biodiversity and environmental conservation, flora and fauna volunteering projects, gardening, composting and vermiculture, inspiration, poetry and photography.

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