Saturday, 17 May 2014

Up to my neck in it

I have been having fun on my allotment!

I had a tractor trailer full of manure delivered at 7:30am on Monday morning. It was an enormous pile and I just couldn't stop grinning all day as I spread it! The timing was crucial, so that I had a couple of hours to try to make it look smaller before the other plot holders showed up. My plot is plot number 1, everyone passes me as they come in the gate. There is nowhere to hide!

Is it looking smaller yet? This patch of my allotment had not been dug or weeded. I just laid a layer of cardboard over the weeds and spread a good 6 inches of muck over the top. I still had too much left, so then I spread it further over the area that I had already dug. Now one half of my plot is almost all covered with manure and the other side has been traditionally dug.

The other allotmenteers must think I'm crazy. There have been murmurings of "That will never work", "You won't be able to grow anything for 6 months" and "You won't get away with it". There is a notion that the manure will 'burn' the plants, but as I have seen this method in action on the Transition Community Allotment and with my good friend Carol at My Journey Into Food Production I am not so worried. I am following the No Dig method of Charles Dowding. I have watched a couple of his videos and put my trust in him.

Actually for me it just feels right. My plot had sunk a good 6 inches from the plot next door, possibly from the nutrients being taken out with every harvest and not replenished. Also when I dug a row of the soil for potatoes I only saw 2 worms! In my garden at home I find worms in every spadefull! It really did feel like a Birthday present for my plot and the party was a soft, sticky, squidgy and exhausting one! I hope the worms enjoy it ;-)

I kept a small pile of manure to spread round the fruit bushes. I even exchanged 2 barrowful's for 2 freshly picked little gem lettuce, so it was an easy salad to make for dinner. The next day I stomped it all down, which neatened it up. Then I planted some sweetcorn right in the middle. That will shock the pants off some of my neighbours ;-)

The other allotmenteers are a friendly and generous bunch. I have been given sweetcorn, cabbage, cauliflower and broccoli seedlings, unusual roots to plant like Oca and Yakon, posts for my bean frame, herbs and fresh Tatsoi and Chinese greens to eat, with further offers of garlic, spinach and a jostaberry bush. They are happy to give you a tour of their plots and show you the delicacies they are growing. It is amazing the full extent of varieties that can be grown, not just the basic fruit and veg you would find in the supermarket.

Every veg grown counts at reducing my impact. It is grown with virtually no fossil fuel use, no chemical fertilisers, only transported a mile to my home, there is no packaging made to hold it, it hasn't been rinsed in bleach or left on a shelf for weeks while the nutrients degrade, and there is no exchange of money to any corporations in order for me to eat it. Jason Heppenstall at 22 Billion Energy Slaves seems to have been thinking similar thoughts this week too. Growing your own veggies goes a long way towards living a 90% lifestyle.


  1. Gorgeous stuff! It looks like you can just spread and go here. I do very min imal digging, own no garden power tools and grow most of our own veg and some fruit. We are enjoying our annual 6 weeks of daily asparagus while the peaches, plums and apples burst into bloom. Love to see organic gardening around the world from here in Maine! Hope you have a good season and will look forward to more photos. Oh, and if your in the neighborhood, I have some excess tomato seedlings...

    1. Thanks Lane. that's what I need to grow! I hope someone takes you up on those tomato seedlings.