Saturday, May 14, 2011

First letter from the allotment(s)

Well, we didn't get one allotment, we got three. We got in line for one close to our home, but there were thirty persons waiting to get one on that field. Since I don't take anything for granted I applied for one on a field somewhat less popular, but with allotments in the same size and where we have friends. In April we were called on for a viewing, and we got an allotment in fairly good shape. The previous owner was probably into fancy garden design since she or he had placed the raspberry bushes in the middle, and on one side had planted too many red currant bushes. (In my case anything above zero is too many red currant bushes - I don't like the berries and the bushes is insanely fruitfull. We got three of them to give away - anyone interested?...)

Well, half of the allotment was dug through, and as I said it was in fairly good shape. Its neighbour was in a sorry state however. The owner had fought an heroic fight against the weeds. Fought it and lost, which meant the piece of land was up for grabs. I gave the idea of grabbing it twentyfour hours, and then I decided we would take it too. The Indoor Gardener hubby didn't have much to say about it, I'm afraid, but he hasn't complained yet. When I took a walk around our new 'land' I found onions still in the ground, nettles (quikly harvested for a delicious soup) and sticks marking the places where precious plants had met their fate. I was quick to decide to cover up everything in black plastic for at least two years.

Two weeks later we got a message that there was an allotment available at the field where we originally wanted a place. We went out to have a look, and my hopes weren't high since we had been at the end of the line. Imagine my surprise when we got one which was perfectly clear of weeds, and had beeen propperly fluffed in the autumn. We can do whatever we like with it! Of course I accepted the offer.

What about the first two allotments? Could we wriggle out of the contract? Perhaps, but morally it was out of question. We'd said we'd take care of them, signed the contract and started to work on them, then you just can't throw them away after three weeks. However the two first allotments suddenly got other functions.

To make it more easy to write (and read) about the three allotments apart on this blog I've given them names. I could have given them numbers like x1b2, x2b4 and x3b16, but it felt boring. Instead I gave them three human names. Much more easy to memorise and adds a smidgeon of character to these small pieces of land.

This is the allotment formerly covered in weed. Right now it's coverd in black plastic which probably will kill off ground elder, crab grass and other hellish stuff. My grand plan is to replace the plastic with cardboard and straw and plant potatoes in the straw. We have clay soil and this method will choke the weeds while it adds humus. In turn this will soften up a soil that in worst cases acts like concrete. The cardboard layer has to be replaced every year, but I'll be able to grow potatoes in the meantime, and that's a good thing. On the other hand we'll need a LOT of cardboard for this, so when neighbouring alltoment gardeners donated their plastic coverup we were really gratefull.

This is the allotment in fairly good shape - the one we got first. As I said half of it was dug over, and a rasberry shrubbery was oddly placed in the middle (actually portruding from the middle of the short end) and three red currant bushes (anyone interested?) plus one gooseberry bush. A smaller part is covered up, apparently because of an heavy attack of ground elder. This will be where we grow our berries. We already have raspberries, and I hope to plant a few black currant bushes (three red currant bushes are up for grabs), perhaps a blackberry bush, and a big strawberry field. I'd rather plant raspberries, but our son wanted strawberries and the plants was far cheaper, so I had to give in.

The perfectly fluffed allotment last handed to us. (When you garden in clay soil fluffed soil is what you dream for.) Angelina will be cultivated according to a modified variety of jidutu xiangchuan (a tradition more than a thousand years old). Since an allotment is comparatively small (six times ten meters / eighteen times thirty feet) I had to scrap some of the details to save space. This is ok, since jidutu is very pragmatic. Here we'll cutlivate our vegetables, although so far I've just meassured were the beds will be, and promised our allotment neighbour she'll get her sticks back by Saturday. Since she was the prevous owner of Angelina and saw to fluff up the soil I also thanked her. Many times.

(Yes, I know most of you haven't heard of jidutu xiangchuan - I'l go into depts about it in the future.)

So, these are the three pieces of land the entire Indoor Gardener family will battle this summer. Tomorrow we'll spend the entire day watering and sowing on Angelina. If we're lucky we'll manage to plant some bushes on Precious too. (Anyone wants red currant bushes?)

[Sorry about the belated update - computer problems.]

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