A bit soggy underfoot

At lunchtime today I ambled down to the allotment for a few hours to escape the enormous pile of paperwork I had been staring at all morning. I arrived on site to find Geoff and Rachael enjoying the end of their tea break at the clubhouse. I had a quick chat with them before we all biffed off to our plots.

First I had a good look over the plot. The huge amount of rain over the last couple of days has refreshed the water levels in the waterbutts but left me wondering how my strategic anti-flood planting had worked. The plot still had areas of flooding but the main two problem areas were definitely better. The corner by my flower garden and willow screen had some standing water but no where near the usual swimming pool. Further along the plot, the new crazy paving and willows have stopped the worst of the flooding although it has created a new flooded area in the centre of the plot. So I think my strategic planting has been quite successful but I definitely need to plant a few more water loving plants to limit any further flooding.

Pleased with the albeit soggy but not entirely flooded plot, I walked down to the chickens who were very cross with me. Not only was I very late but the rain had caused an issue with their feeder. Unfortunately layers pellets or mash when mixed with water turns into concrete and inevitably blocks any food from coming out of the feeder. I emptied the unspoilt food into a bowl whilst I wrestled with the feeder. The feeder dismantles in a completely different way and it took me a few minutes to sort it and wash it out. I left the base to dry so we didn’t have a repeat of layers concrete, collected the eggs and cleaned the nest box.

On my way back to check whether the feeder was dry, I stopped to say hello to Emily. She has to be one of the best broody chickens on the planet. Emily refuses to move off her eggs and is still on all twelve. She let me check on her water and food, watching me suspiciously all the while.

Finding the feeder dry, I reassembled it and filled it with food in the coop. The girls clucked their approval and I left them to it.

I caught a glimpse of Rachael from the coop and walked over to say hello. She was busy sorting through foliage to go into her compost bin. She kindly lent me her handle for my new Wolf Garten hoe and I spent an interesting 20 minutes hoeing the plot in-between sinking several inches into the waterlogged soil.

Next I moved onto sweeping out the shed. Normally I wouldn’t bother but I have a friend from work coming to look at the allotment tomorrow. She has just got her first plot on a site in Sandbach and wants to consult, in her words, “an expert allotmenter”. Flattering but untrue. I have spotted a few off shoots which I can dig up and give her and I am very much looking forward to seeing what her site is like. Apparently, they have lots of rules which include no animals, no greenhouses and no sheds. It did make me appreciate the freedoms we have on site to design our plots. As for the no animals and shed rules, well it doesn’t bear thinking about!

Before I left, I dropped off Rachael’s hoe handle and we ended up sitting outside her shed. We put the world to rights whilst enjoying calm and beautiful views at the back of the site. We discussed a section of her plot that she had been finding difficult and we decided to tackle it together over the next couple of weeks. It’s a narrow strip, about half the width of the plot and about a quarter of the plot length. Plenty of room for some more fruit trees or even a small chicken coop! Watch this space!

So tomorrow’s exciting adventure to Ettiley Heath allotments and see serious digging on Rachael’s plot. If I have time, I will also plant some more vegetables.

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