Digging up the old, preparing for the new


Last Thursday was another productive allotment session unearthing layers of allotment history. Leaf by leaf the story is uncovered each glimpse of the past is helping to write the new. Val is back on the scene and I am off for a while but I am happy that people are getting to grips with the ancient skill of making it up as we go along.

We met an old boy green actioner and allotment coordinator Ben Milner who came to Leeds the year the plots were acquired a decade ago! He has so much great information from the varieties of the fruit tree’s to scale of the parties gone by as well as lots of experience of effective food growing, rocket stove building and community projects. It sounds like he might be around to pass on some inspiring stories and hard earned wisdom so look out for a smiling ginger beard and the catchy positive attitude of seasoned co-operative activist.

The snow provided space for ample chat and exploring of the plots. It was good to show new keen beans around although it was a shame the ground was well blanketed in cold whiteness. The real tasks could not get underway till the afternoon. We had soup and hot drinks to keep the cold at bay, contained in a bunch of new flasks for the allotment. The sun even burst through every now and again!

We battled with the army of vagabonding raspberry and bramble suckers lifting twisted baby sized knots from the ground these have been swamping the fruit bushes at the back of plot 2. It is amazing what we achieved with 4 of us and the bonfire brash builds ever higher!    

We have been offered some good Polly tunnel plastic and I have found the missing piece of the end hoop. When we have a committed group and a good day we can put up the big grow tent! This will provide a warm dry climate for growing hot weather crops like Chili’s and Peppers!

Next week people were excited to organize an hour or so to prune the raspberries and thin them out. We have a problem in that Each variety is pruned differently. Summer raspberry canes grow and produce fruit over 2 years whereas the autumn ones achieve it in one year. We will take this year as an experimental year so cut out all dead canes, dig out a path to allow access to the summer goodness and thin out one 3rd of the canes remaining this should result in a win-win scenario and we should be able to identify our variety and reap some fruit this year. We could also put in some posts and string in preparation for loads of produce 🙂    

The onions are cooking nicely in the soils earthy embrace their sprout of green hair poking out in punk defiance against the onslaught of our northern weather. It is good to know we have some crops growing! It is time to start off our next tasty form of life!  February is the season to sow two ancient crops of great Britain, the great broad bean and peculiar parsnip! Parsnips only need a weed free bed and they will grow all year with little care and attention and will be ready for next winter, they don’t need any compost or fertilizer (seeds in the seed share box?). The Broad bean bed could be composted with the ancient compost heap at the back of plot  If we get these in now we can have tender small broad beans with a delicate flavor unlike any from a super market by May, keeping you happy and healthy through exams.

Grab a fellow green actioner or two on beautiful days over the next couple of weeks and make good things happen on the plot use the email thread to find out who else is free. Val will be in touch and there are now some of my really useful books at the co-op! Looking forwards to coming home already! 


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