Monday, 7 March 2011

Gardening Lesson Number 1

The Heritage Lottery has restored the wall around the allotment and is funding gardening lessons; we get these for 2 years it seems. Each plot has to be looked after by three families, Steve and I have teamed up with Iain and June and Barry and Debbie, we attended our first class yesterday full of enthusiasm.
 Today we looked at types of soil and crop rotation. Whilst I was familiar with crop rotation it was good to go over which plants go into which groups for rotation. On our plot we have decided on four parts to rotate and a fifth part which will have permanent plants in such as fruit bushes. The herbs are to go by the wall in front of the fruit trees.
 We have been chitting potatoes for a few weeks; earlies, second earlies and main crop but we had a new challenge today. Joyce, our teacher, has given each plot a Jersey Royal seed potato (but it can’t be called Jersey as we’re not there) and started a competition to see which plot can grow the most potatoes from it.
Barry with shiny spade & Iain with our competition entry potato

 Our plots will be ploughed again this week and then we can start digging and planting although it is too cold for most plants. Joyce says it is warm enough for planting when you can either sit on the ground with your bare bum for ten minutes or can comfortably go outside without your coat on, I know which method I shall use! She says that from now on we will be much more in touch with the weather and temperature; I love to work with the seasons.
Our plot includes 45 feet of wall from the original Edwardian walled garden which we had decided to grow cordon or espalier trees against. Our trees had arrived; apricot, greengage and sweet cherry and we had our spades ready to plant them but it became apparent as our lesson progressed that we had ordered the wrong type of trees, they needed to be grown from a different root stock so we have had to send our trees back and need to find a supplier of espalier root stock plants. First lesson learnt!
 The garden is organic; did you know a Blue Tit can eat 800 caterpillars in a day? We need to encourage them, I hope they don’t turn to cabbage once they’ve run out of caterpillars!
 We talked about planting seeds using toilet roll tubes or newspaper tubes and when I got home I started on my collection of toilet roll tubes. I have planted sweet corn, courgettes, peas, cayenne chillies, basil and sweet peas but still have lots to do. I’ve run out of toilet rolls so will be following Kaz’s instructions on newspaper pots next.

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