An Allotment in Hungerford............

Harvesting your home-grown veggies is the best part of having an allotment. It's lovely to meet plotholders popping down to the site to pick fresh produce for their dinners. As vegetarians, we take great pleasure in making up a whole meal with home-grown. The record (set in 2012) will be hard to beat. Nine pickings on one plate - a delicious salad with home-made coleslaw:

Potato, Onion, Cabbage, Carrot, Lettuce, Tomatoes, Cucumber, Sweet Pepper, Spring Onions

Sadly this year hasn't provided such rich pickings due to our inaction in the Spring. We began to feel like we'd lost control, but we managed to get our spuds in and filled the raised bed with salad, beets, florence fennel (and slug pellets!). So, we've still had some fresh vegetables and kindly fellow plotholders have helped fill some gaps on our plates!

I’ll take the opportunity to write about what has grown well – weeds! Some can be beneficial, rather than having bare earth, so don’t despair if areas of your plot look a mess. They can provide ground-cover, prevent water evaporation and pull up nutrients from deep in the soil. Some young leaves can even be eaten along with your vegetables.

Annual weeds such as deadnettle, groundsel, spurge and fat hen can help hide new shoots from predatory insects and birds but should always be pulled before they flower. Remember the mantra “one year’s weeds equal seven years’ seeds” and those seeds will remain in the ground for years just waiting for the right conditions to burst into life.

Perennial weeds such as couch grass, bindweed, thistle and docks are more of a problem and need to be controlled. They not only self-seed but also spread through the tiniest remnant of root, runner or rhizome left on the ground. These need to be pulled or dug out (if you don’t want to resort to chemicals); if not entirely removed the weed will be back sooner than you think! We've seen couch grass grow through a potato! It's very tough!

Try not to let any weeds overcrowd your vegetables - they will invariably grow faster than your crops and steal the goodness and water for themselves. Slugs love to hide amongst the damp foliage, emerging at night to decimate the veg. We find grass edges are a real haven for slugs and snails but the toads know that too - be careful to check for friendly wildlife before starting to strim your borders.

We still don't have the peace of mind and growing potential that a permanent allotment site offers, but we've started planning for next year and are desperately hoping it won't be our last season at the lovely Marsh Lane site. Time will tell...

Belinda

If you fancy the idea of growing your own contact HAHA on 0754 118 7274
www.haha-hungerford.org.uk
Our Marsh Lane allotment life is recorded online through my blogs:
http://www.plot7marshlane.blogspot.com/
http://plot7wildlife.blogspot.co.uk/


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