Sunday, 6 March 2011

Doings for the First Week of March

While we've had some hard frosts this week, the weather is looking up and the days are getting noticeably longer. Not much to do in the flower garden at the moment - just some tidying up of the leaves I didn't get to before the December snow, and some tying in of stems and pruning on the roses. But on the allotment, it's full steam ahead.
The rhubarb is pushing up well now, lots of lovely red stems appearing with proto-leaves on top.
And the fruit trees are budding - it's not very easy to see on this photo, but this Katy apple is covered in buds. So today I sprinkled potash around the base of each fruit bush, tree and raspberry stem to aid in their flowering. I followed that up in the case of the bushes and trees with some horse manure and topped it off with some compost. Now I can sit back and let them do their thing - no further work required.
The garlic, which I planted a few weeks ago, has got above the soil now.
And cloches are starting to breed on my plot - the one on the right has the broad beans under it, which I planted on Monday. The one on the left is preparing the soil for the first peas, which will be planted in a couple of weeks. I also have another one warming up a bed for an early carrot sowing.

In the press this weekend there has been talk of increases in allotment rents. Some local authorities have been increasing rents by 100 to even 300%. I'm fortunate in that while rents on my plots have been increased again this year, the increase is only around 6%. It will put a few pounds on the rent, but it's not massive. I suppose allotment holders are seen as an easy target, if you really want to grow your own vegetables you'll pay up - a few pounds on every plot is an easy way to increase income for the Council. Anyway, at least this year my Council has actually written to me to tell me about the increase rather than just send an invoice without giving notice of the rise. It seems they have learned their lesson from last year when I pointed out that under the terms of the lease, they were obliged to give one months notice of the change. Even when I've taken into account the costs of the plot and seeds/equipment, I'm saving over £1000 per year in food costs, and have better food into the bargain. If you're an allotment gardener, I hope you're not being badly affected by rent rises.
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