Sunday, 2 May 2010

This picture shows the second of my two vegetable plots. In the foreground are the strawberries, which I have weeded and mulched this week. When I took on this second plot, the only structures visible were the two beds after the strawberries, and they were weed-ridden. The rest of the plot was a jungle of tall weeds. This week, we finally finished reclaiming the plot - there are still corners to tidy up but the bulk of the work is done. Because it was so neglected, weeds tended to recolonise cleared areas quickly, growing in from the edges. So over the winter we have been using paving slabs to create barriers to bed edges which will prevent weeds and slugs getting in. My Other Half has worked valiantly this weekend, digging out the ends of the two beds nearest the camera, laying a new path and finishing the edging for the bed furthest away. He says he's knackered now and I'm giving him the day off tomorrow, how generous am I?

There's still plenty of weeding to do, and possibly we could reclaim a bit more land, but for now it's done, seven years on. For anyone planning to take over a derelict piece of land, my advice is to be prepared for lots of weeding - hand weeding is the only way. I did try weedkiller and black plastic, which helped a bit but there's no substitute for a fork and spade.

The derelict plot already had overgrown raspberries, which I split and moved a couple of years ago - they rejuvenated well, surprisingly. It now has one plum tree, four apple trees, six beds for vegetables, lots of rhubarb, artichokes, two herb beds and lots of paths, none of which were there seven years ago. Hard work, but very satisfying.

Things are growing in the shed - here are the cucumbers, courgettes, marrows and pumpkins, which are all pushing on. Today it's bitterly cold, so these are staying snug and warm indoors for now.
And here are the beetroot - 100% germination for these. I'll grow them on in the shed until they get big enough to plant outdoors. Today I sowed more spinach and chard in the gaps in the rows I started a few weeks ago; earlier this week I also got the parsnips in. I also started cabbage, sprouts, and leeks; late this year, but the weather is really very cold for May. A few years ago I started to sow them outdoors as we had a series of warm springs, but this year I have reverted to starting more seeds in the shed to get them off to a good start. The only things left to do now are purple sprouting broccoli, runner beans, a second sowing of peas and a second sowing of lettuce.

So we're pretty much up to date with our sowing now, just more weeding to do. Now for a rest...
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