The third wander around the allotments at Bowbrook already! We were expecting a warm bright day but it turned out misty with a chill in the air. So much work has been done to the plots with many allotmenteers all ready for the coming growing season. Tree surgeons have been to do a bit of work on our mature Sycamore tree and the resulting wood has been put to good. The shredded wood is being used by some plot holders to surface their paths, some branches have been used to create a brash pile and some logs used to create a big impressive log pile.
To welcome visitors and plotholders to the site we have planted up two half-barrels outside the gateway and opposite the gate on the edge of a plot we have our posh main site sign which features a map of the site, our mission statement and photos of the main functions of the site.
Let’s begin the wander with a look at what is going on our own plot, number 37. We are just about ready for the 2012 season with soil dug over composted and raked. The kale which we have overwintered looks very healthy with its wonderfully coloured crinkle edged leaves of glaucous green, purple and pink.
The perennials in out “Bee and Bug Border” are producing new shoots. These plants are grown to attract beneficial insects both predators and pollinators, such as bees, hoverflies and lacewing.
Our bean poles, made from coppiced Hazel, are up ready for Runner Beans to climb when planted out in late May and behind them we have cloches warming the ground for early plantings of Carrots, Parsnips and Beetroot. If the weather is kind we shall sow these seeds at the end of this month.
This Ladybird sheltering near our shed lock is hoping for some sun to get warmed up a bit.
After a quick perusal of our site we began the wander around the whole allotment field, starting in the car park where Daffodils give a golden welcome as plotters arrive to work or enjoy the communal spaces. Each September we hold a “Donate a Daffodil Day” when members are asked to donate bulbs which are then planted around the site by volunteers on one of our working parties. In the first year alone we had over a thousand bulbs donated and planted several hundred in the car park border and on the grass verge alongside our entrance gates.
Moving on down towards the first communal orchard we spotted this insect hotel on Wendy’s plot and admired Tracy’s rhubarb which is well advanced.
The first of the community orchards is alongside Tracy’s lottie and she looks after its maintenance, mowing the grass paths, pruning the apples, pears, plums and damsons and generally keeping it neat and tidy. She also looks after the Fruit Avenue leading away from the orchard. She is a great asset! At the moment daffodils and crocuses are flowering between the fruit and in the avenue muscari are in flower. Bees are busy exploring these early flowers.
Our wander then took us through the Fruit Avenue with “super fruits” planted on both sides, out alongside Alan’s plot, affectionately known as “The Blue Plot”.
Blue alkathene water pipes are very popular around the site as effective ways of holding fleece or netting covers to protect crops. Wandering further on around the trail towards the Spring Garden we passed a plot that is always good to see as some interesting projects seem to on the go. Today we noticed that she had started to create a herb garden with tree stumps as seats and herbs in the ground around them and in a half-barrel planter. She is always building something – she seems very good at d.i.y. She made her raised beds which we saw have already got some early sowings in.
Behind this plot is the Spring Garden which is looked after by two other volunteers, Jill and Geoff, who keep it looking immaculate. Of course it is now beginning to reach its peak time. Bulbs are well up and some flowering, perennials are showing fresh green growth and the Violet Willow is covered in its sparkling white pussy willow buds.
Moving on from the Spring Garden, as we followed the trail, we noticed Blue Tits exploring the nest boxes. Beyond our big old Oak is the new log pile created with logs left by the tree surgeon after his safety work on our mature trees. The log pile will soon be home to Dunnock and Wren and as it begins to rot down insects, invertebrates and beetles will move in.
We soon reach the Winter Garden which continues to look impressive, full of interesting bark and stems on trees and shrubs and colourful flowers on bulbs and early herbaceous plants.
Some crops still look good after the winter and continue to give plot holders some good pickings. These brassicas, Purple Sprouting Broccoli and Cabbage look very healthy and appetising.
The beautifully coloured Red Veined Sorrel in the photo above is already putting on plenty of fresh leaves ready for harvesting, whereas the beautifully coloured flowers of Purple Sprouting Broccoli are now ready for enjoying after the plant has been standing through the winter.
Lots of our plot holders displays plaques with garden related sayings on for the amusement of all. How about this one to finish our March wanderings around the site?