Sunday, 13 January 2008
With a dump of snow on Friday afternoon my best laid plans to do some ground work on the allotment has been put on hold for a week. However, for those of you who are into raised beds and have more convivial weather to do prep here are some thoughts.
I tend not to prepare beds until early spring. With a very free-draining soil and a wet winter I like to chuck shit around late and then cover with black polythene to allow nature to take its course, allowing a couple of months before major planting. Equally, beds needed for roots like carrot and parsnip, which do not need a top dressing of manure or compost, I give a light dressing of fish, blood and bone and then cover with poly for a month, prior to sowing. This helps with warming the ground up. I will also put polythene cloches over the poly. A three-foot wide bed accommodates two cloches nicely. One can buy clear and black poly in 100 metre rolls from a horticultural supplier and its cheap(ish). The hoops for the cloches can also be bought by the hundred in pre-cut lengths with loops a foot or so from each end to hook over thinner wire when the polythene is laid. Personally I am happy to buy 2mm gauge wire from the local farm supplier and cut my own. Forget the loops and just use another length of wire bent over the poly to hold it in place.
Next weekend will be busy. Catching up on ground preparation weather permitting and sowing tomato and capsicum seed and beetroot in mini-pots in the greenhouse.