1 May 2017

What's what at the Plot - end of month review

Last month's lesson in plot sharing was, well, sharing.  Working as a team. Happy to be there and chipping in together.

A month on and, with a few tweaks, that's still working - just about. I'm so used to gardening on my own terms that I've had to rein in my natural tendency to be the boss. I'm also a perfectionist. Quite a tricky combination for shared working!

I thought it best to crack on and get the plot cleared and prepped before sowing anything. The others took the alternative view and were keen to start sowing. Warnings of late frosts went unheeded. What to do? Plot holder Doreen agreed with me so my visits were all about tidying. I disposed of unwanted metal, wood and tangled netting, strimmed the grass and paths, pruned shrubs and trees, dug, mulched and weeded, weeded, weeded. (Yes, the bindweed has put in an appearance - with a vengeance. And don't even get me started on dandelions.) The other helpers took a more relaxed approach ... and sowed seeds. (I've since asked the others to at least do a bit of weeding every time they go. *rolls eyes*)

The compost bins have been a bone of contention. Yes, really - compost, who'd have thought?  Last year, while Doreen was away, a couple of 'Swiss bins' were installed. Swiss bins are round wire cages with heavy black plastic liners, supposedly able to make compost within six months. However, the essential liners weren't used last year so the bins resembled two hayricks bursting with weeds. The sight was a constant annoyance to Doreen, particularly as these two huge bins were taking up good growing space in a bed. She'd previously had her own compost bins by the shed but they'd been replaced and the area cleared to make an entrance for prams and buggies.  Doreen's favourite saying is currently "This is an ALLOTMENT not a nursery!" which always makes me laugh. It's a sentiment I agreed with - but diplomacy was needed as one of the Other Helper/mums is a jolly good worker when she puts her mind to it.

So what was the solution?  Communication ... and compromise. I started a green compost bin on the old site by the shed and asked for the two Swiss bins to be sorted out with liners. (Job done, see above photo!) Doreen has agreed to wait until the autumn for the Swiss bins to be emptied before moving them. Problem solved. (I hope.)

I've realised that there will always be something that grates as we adjust to each other's presence on the plot but at least there's a big chunk ticked off the to do list. Last month's cleared path has been heavily mulched (by me) with bark chips from the recent tree work on my estate, the rubbish is all cleared, wooden beds have been shored up and salad seeds have been sown.

The plot looks good so it's where we should be at this time of year. A quick look round after watering at the weekend has given me fruit envy - there seems to be loads of fruitlets on the plum, apple and sweet cherry trees and the espaliered pear is also dripping with tiny fruits. (I wish I could say the same for the fruit trees at home.) Blackcurrants and blueberries tell a similar tale - there are even wild strawberries to supplement the cultivated ones - and the tulips and anemones are still going strong. Potatoes planted a month ago aren't appearing yet - is that usual? - although self-seeded borage and nasturtiums are popping up among the spud trenches!

Love these bright pink tulips on lovely long straight stems.

In the coming weeks I'll be sowing flower seeds (I won't say what yet, let's see what germinates) and salad seeds will have been thinned out, maybe even with a few early cut-and-come again pickings. Other crops of sweet corn, courgettes and pumpkins should be ready for planting out (seeds sown into modules today) - and I might even get time to paint the shed!


  1. Wow Caro, it's looking absolutely brilliant. Glad you're just about making the sharing work, although I hope they pull their weight with the weeding. My plot neighbour got a bit slap happy with the weedkiller round his shed and it all ran and completely wiped out a section of grass path. He's left the plot now, but I see that someone has pretty much spritzed the entire thing with weedkiller now. In addition the Council have been round the entire town spraying madly along the edges of every grass verge in sight so that there's a foot-wide brown strip. The grass will die then weeds will move in. Honestly, I'm so cross. Well done on all the plot fruit. At home one of the pear trees has surprised me by being covered in fruit for the second year running, and there are lots of peaches on the peach tree - another surprise as I didn't do any hand-pollinating. Down at the plot though it doesn't look as if there will be any plums, again. I have the world's laziest plum tree. Hope you have a good Monday off. CJ xx

    1. Gosh all that weedkiller sounds really scary! Even with my obsession with weeds on the plot, I'd never resort to weedkiller. As far as I can tell, nearby gardeners at the allotments are mostly organic, bar the occasional slug pellet. (And even those are frowned on!) I echo your hopes about help with the weeding, CJ, although yesterday I spent most of my hour deadheading or digging up dandelions while the others were out of London. Ah yes, Bank Holiday Monday - lovely to start the week with a day off! Hopefully the rain will hold off for a bit more gardening - there's still so much to do! Enjoy the day, xx

  2. Looking great and yes weeding is essential and to be shared-hopefully.

  3. I think I would struggle working with people too. You are being very diplomatic though so I do hope it pays off and you mange to get the others weeding too. Does everyone muck in or do you all have your own plot?
    I have trees covered in cherry/pear/plum fruitlets this year, I'm dreading the June drop and high winds. My potatoes aren't up yet either and my soft fruit is doing nothing.xxx

  4. A good post and nice pictures. It's all looking and sounding good especially given that it's a collaborative effect.

  5. Your shared plot is looking lovely. I help out in a community orchard it does help having people in charge who share out the tasks to the rest of us! Sarah x


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