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A novice's guide to producing his own food

A new year, and a new milestone

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The fruit cage was a weedy disgrace. Over the winter I finally managed to clear it, and for the first time, the allotment is pretty much weed-free and under my control.

It’s been a fantastic winter. Last year I was unable to put a spade in the ground because it was so cold. This year, however, as it’s been so mild, I’ve made it to the allotment almost every weekend except for Christmas.

This lucky streak has meant I’ve really been able to really get torn into giving the beds a good digging over  and get rid of those perennial weeds, the main offender being marestail (or rack weed). The worst affected area was the fruitcage. It was so full of weeds it almost formed a turf. When I look at it now, I’m surprised I got any strawberries last year. The plants must have been nearly choked.

Fortunately, the mild winter has meant I’ve been able to deal with the fruitcage properly. I dug out all the strawberry plants just before and winter, and let them rest in a spare bed. Then it was down to the hard work. It took several weekends and many hours just to dig it over once, it was in such a mess. After that I meant through it all again TWICE with a fork to get the remainder out. It won’t be completely weed-free, but should be manageable this coming summer. I’m expecting a good crop.

For the first time since I got the allotment two years ago, I can now say it is pretty much in the shape I wanted it. Everything has been dug over properly, and is as weed-free as can reasonably be expected for someone who is taking the organic approach. I really hope the marestail will only  be a fraction of what it was. My biggest headache is now under control. The job now is to keep it that way.

In the midst of all this I got six tons of compost delivered. This is largely due to the hard work of another allotmenteer — he persuaded  Dundee City Council to drop off ten tons of its highly recommended Discovery Compost. My share cost £80, and was enough for one ton of compost per bed. That’s gotta do some good.

First, however, there was a major hurdle. As the truck had to drop the compost off in a communal area, we had to move it very quickly. Unfortunately, our delivery didn’t impress one grower who took immediate exception and started a shouting match. This is despite the fact that he had had a NINE-ton delivery to the exact same spot a few months earlier. Some folk, eh?

Anyway, despite us both giving the guy a mouthful in return, we nonetheless felt it was probably best to move the stuff ASAP. Between the two of us we moved all 11 tones in six hours spread over two days. I don’t mind telling you, I have never been so knacked as after that. I couldn’t even pick up a sweetie paper

Should be worth it, though, as it is instantly apparent how black (and therefore good) the compost is compared to my sandy soil. This stuff is the colour of coal.

Earlier today, I finished composting my fifth bed. That just leaves one bed to go.

For the first time since getting the allotment, I feel I’m “ahead of the game”.

One thought on “A new year, and a new milestone

  1. Good for you! It looks great and all ready to go. We started clearing in November and only really got “caught up” about two weeks ago! AND there was three of us doing it.

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