• Jon Matthews

The 15B Diaries - Part 5: Weather, Weeds and Welaxing.

The sunshine and warmer weather has brought with it a lot of work as well as a lot of opportunities for enjoyment. All the allotment books and blogs say that it is important to stay on top of weeding at this time of year and this is something we have not done so far. However, now that what we have planted is looking strong and can easily be differentiated from the weeds, it is time to dedicate ourselves to the plucking of weeds. Pests, I am told, can also be a ... er... pest at this time of year, especially slugs, which we are attempting to defeat using a combination of slug killer and coffee grounds procured from a local cafe.

The warmer weather also means more planting can be done and we are now beginning the process of moving plants from the greenhouse (formerly windowsill) to the ground. We now have radishes under a cloche at the allotment, soon to be joined by beetroot and others. The carrots, spring onions, shallots, spinach and onions planted directly into the ground are all growing strong.

We have also begun work on our additional crops, an area has been specially prepared and sown with soapwort seeds, so that we can make our own shampoo from the plant once it has grown. Due to the heavy soil, preparing the ground can be a difficult task but the 'no dig' method, covering the ground and uncovering it for use, has reduced our workload considerably. Some digging is still needed when a patch is uncovered but significantly less than required otherwise. Manure has now been spread under the sheeting and as that gradually rots and seeps into the soil it will cause it to be extra-fertile once it is uncovered.

The sunshine also revealed to us a mistake we had made when planning the allotment. We put the decking in an area that receives no shade. This was something we had no choice but to alter and after a Sunday morning of moving everything around we finally rebuilt the deck in the shade which has proven to be a vast improvement. We have also placed tiles down as pathways, to avoid treading on the areas we will grow in, help way down the plastic and replace the unsightly scrap wood we were previously using to hold the plastic in place. This has massively improved the allotments appearance.

Of course the Sunshine has also brought with it the opportunity to enjoy the allotment more and to use it as a place to relax. We have already has our first barbecue of the year and I was also able to erect a hammock stand. I've had my hammock for about 5 years now and I don't think it is an exaggeration to say that purchasing it was a life changing experience. My best ideas have all come about from lying in that hammock. Nothing helps you understand what is important quite as much as lying in a hammock. It is also a huge money saving device, when lying in a hammock you find yourself much less inclined to buy this or that - why bother when you've got a hammock? The incentive to have a laze in the hammock afterwards may also help to improve my weeding (or at least that is what I am telling myself).

The allotment is undoubtedly changed and improved by the recent upturn in weather and with more to be planted and a handful of little jobs to do (as well as plenty of barbecues and hammock sessions) our little paradise is definitely taking shape.

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