So another year has arrived and it’s time to work on the allotment plans for the new growing season! My favourite part of the winter is spending hours trawling through my seed boxes and searching online for different seeds. Then there is the annual challenge of trying to work out how to fit in all the plants into the plot. It doesn’t matter how much growing space you have in theory, there just never seems to be enough room!
Aside from pruning the fruit trees and planting in a replacement pear tree in the fruit section, I think I am going to take out the honeyberry bushes. After several years of waiting, we finally got to try some berries. Unfortunately, they were utterly inedible! Another plan is to plant some more raspberry canes to bulk up our raspberry harvest. Quite what the tayberry will do this year is beyond me. It seems to have a life of its own! The strawberry bed by the greenhouse needs some repair and the soil level needs raising with some new compost but hopefully this will mean a bigger strawberry harvest in the summer. The real question is, what varieties to choose to make sure we can have freshly picked strawberries for as long as possible.
Then onto the vegetables. My husband is keen to try sprouts and carrots this year as well as the usual potatoes, beans and tomatoes. Last year, I think I got carried away with the tomatoes and planted them too close together. The greenhouse turned into an enormous jungle which made it impossible to access the greenhouse! I’m still hoping to get my hands on a couple of tea plants this year. Apparently there are two tea plantations in the UK (one as far north as Scotland!) which gives me hope that I might be able to grow tea in Crewe. Most allotmenteers have detailed lists of what they want to grow but I like to amble around the seed sections choosing whatever looks interesting. It means we often have a strange mix of seeds but it means we try lots of different crops.
The two big projects I have in mind for this year. The first one is a continuation of the solar power project – a solar powered watering system. I have a tendency to either over or underwater the plants in the greenhouse. To be honest, I almost always forget to water the greenhouse plants. So far, I have sourced two solar panels, a timer, hose components and a pump. Apart from a few odds and ends, my main issue is where to locate the waterbutt. The patio would be the logical place provided we could get the pergola up. Then the solar panels could go on the top of the pergola and these could be wired into the current system with an additional battery. Definitely some more planning needed over the next few weeks to get everything fully planned out.
The other project relies on the magic money tree. After working with Steve and Phil’s bees for years, I’ve been eyeing up getting my own hive. My husband still needs some persuading… The main concern with keeping bees is being able to catch any swarms. Having caught a swarm solo last year, I feel confident enough to try having some bees of my own. I’ve chosen the type of hive and identified extra equipment that I’ll need (a smoker, a hive tool etc). My plan is to save up and get all the equipment and hive (including spare brood boxes, supers etc) before buying a nucleus of bees. A common issue for new bee keepers is not having enough extra boxes or an additional hive to accommodate the colony as it grows. I’ll also buy a couple of slabs to put the hive on although before I get ahead of myself, I’ll need to work out where to put it…
So there you go! Just a few plans for this year and I’m sure there will be many more as the year progresses. But the thing that I love most about the allotment, are the unexpected adventures that happen, often when you least expect it. Who knows what this year has in store? But I can’t wait to find out!