SRAA Ė The Plot Thickens (an occasional observation from plot 17)


Something somewhere is Ďupí --- very odd weather, and yet Iíve planted my Earlies before August for once.

Through 2012 we were inundated with huge amounts of rain for months on end, and on into this year, until temperatures January dropped in January to convert the wet stuff into white stuff.
Total chaos everywhere, of course, until it thawed.
Then we had a mini-drought, then a short sunny bit, then it snowed again in March.....and froze hard in the icy fingers of a constant breeze direct from the Steppes of North Russia. My Christmas present fork with offset handle bounced !
Plot 17 25.Mar Communual Plot 25.Mar Now, only three weeks after snow, Spring has suddenly, almost desperately, burst through;
daffs everywhere but very quick to fade away this year - garden hyacinths attracting hungry bumble-bees, and the forsythia has transmogrified from bare twigs into full blooming yellow flower in a fortnight.
Great Tits are piping their insistent in-out, two-tone from every branch and thereís first appearances of Dunnocks, Siskins, Blackcaps and the unmistakeable Bullfinches.bullfinch Despite only a fortnight of warmer weather, male Blackbirds are poking around gathering beak-fulls of wriggling grubs & millipedes to take back to their nests where Mrs B is sitting on eggs or even feeding their first chicks !
On the other hand, I havenít seen any Thrushes Ė are they actually now much less common than Blackbirds or is that just me not seeing them ? Mistle Thrushes are long gone sadly.
Maybe itís still a bit early for Goldfinches, Goldcrests and Firecrests but I havenít seen many other finches either, even Chaffinches & Greenfinches.     I certainly havenít heard a Cuckoo, nor have I spotted any Martins, Swifts or Swallows.
Perhaps, in opposition to our weather, itís still better than normal Ďthereí, in their winter timeshare apartments.

On Plot 17 itself Iím beginning to think Iím a bit ahead of myself Ė I turned it all over through Winter, picking out every morsel of green until I had a weed-free plot to spread a full load of manure onto !
After that I was introduced to the challenge of a proper cultivator.
Not a mere Ďtillerí or even a larger Ďrotavatorí, this thing was like a vintage car with long rods linking clutch & two gears Ė but no power steering, no ABS brakes ! I was fine until the end of the first straight line. There I discovered that heaving right to swing it left merely eased it towards the middle of the raspberries.
I tried reversing, turning and moving forwards again but that meant a 27-point turn.
So, reminiscent of Pooh, I stopped for a think.
Luckily Ė as so often happens on our allotplots Ė advice was nearby. The knack is to lift the back end whilst still moving and pivot the beast on its nose Ė and do it half a length of the machine before the end of the line.
Success ! Only 40 minutes for the plot and I still have some raspberries & strawberries left !

Fired by this remarkable progress, Iíve this week put in my first potatoes, onion sets, peas, onions, runners, broad beans, parsnips, carrots, white beets & swedes Ė phew !
As any passer-by can see, Iím not good at serried ranks of veg in neat straight lines - I assume my vegetables are unlikely to complain - but I do sense a tinge of concern from Brian my neighbour on 16 whose plot is a geometric delight of perfect rows, each with its marker peg identifying the variety.
An example to us all but Iím confident my street-wise mongrels will turn out stronger survivors than his effete elite.
DT 17 April
Plot 17 17.April
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