Snow and mud

This morning I managed to get down to the allotment and made a start on all those jobs that I have been unable to do over the last three weeks. There are definitely signs of spring including the flowering of daffodils and other early flowers. Shame the temperature didn’t match spring expectations!

Chickens were grumpy as usual and spent the time I was in the coop shouting loudly at me whilst I fumbled around with frozen hands trying to get their food sorted. Interestingly, both the Cream Legbars and Vorverks are laying and have been for over a month – odd as the cold weather should have delayed their egg laying. But I am not complaining!

I was due to clean out and spray the coop today however the idea of plunging my hands repeatedly into a bucket of cold water for an hour whilst I scrub the coop wasn’t massively appealing. It can wait until the weather improves, or just stops snowing!

We had strong snow showers intermittently all morning which only partially interfered with the huge works on the community garden. Today’s task was moving 5 bags of topsoil from the main gate to the plot to fill in raised flower beds and boxes. Cliff, Geoff, Steve, Will, Mel, Phil and myself all pitched in and within a relatively short time managed to move nearly 3 bags worth to the plot. The rest will be moved tomorrow and during next week.

The Community garden has seen lots of changes since I last posted – new plants have been put in and the weed fabric is slowly being covered by tree and bark chippings to minimise the need for weeding. The pond has settled and the fish are still all alive and thriving despite the pond being regularly frozen over this winter!

On our somewhat abandoned plot, I dug another section over in an attempt to make it look like a semi-respectable allotment. I even managed to put out half of the manure onto the soil nearest the shed. Geoff has read up on some new garden literature and has discovered that top gardeners now support the ‘No Digging’ approach as digging can disrupt the distribution of micronutrients. He is trialling it and if it means less digging, then I am in too!

In addition to some digging, I have finally been brave enough to try and trim the fruit trees. In recent years they have had so much fruit on them that the larger branches have been overburdened. One spectacularly snapped under the weight of several kilos of Braeburn apples last year. I borrowed some tree cutters and made a reasonable job of getting the trees back under control. Now to hope the trees put all their energy into growing the fruit rather than into the ever growing branches and abundant leaves.

The plan going forward is to put up the greenhouse frame on the plot although I have to have help as I am unable to do this single-handedly. With my other half working most weekends isn’t is difficult to catch enough time to do it. The other key thing I plan to do is to put in several raised beds made from old scaffolding planks. Locally these cost around £10-15 per plank and in order to make a 10 x 3ft bed, you only need 2 planks (or 4 if you want a higher level bed). I plan to put these in the areas most prone to flooding to eliminate the boggy nightmare that can cover several large areas on our plot.

On a final note and for your amusement – here is one of the snow showers from this morning

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