Yesterday we spent the day up at our allotment, with the aim of sowing mini-meadows and planting out Brassica plants. But firstly the grass paths separating the plot into its four beds needed a good cut. That done we prepared two narrow borders along one edge of the plot, raking the soil finely but adding no fertilisers or organic matter, for this is where we were creating our mini-meadows.
We sowed a mixture of 3 packets, a white cornflower called “Snowman” a native cornfield mixture and a Californian wildflower mixture. It seemed so strange to feel how light the seeds felt in my hand – a meadow in the palm of my hand.
We hope that our little strips of meadow will look good for us and fellow plotholders to enjoy, attract beneficial insects and bring in attractive butterflies. We particularly want bees to arrive to help with crop pollination. And of course they all entertain us while we are gardening.
After a quick coffee we scattered chicken muck pellets and fish, blood and bone fertiliser onto our brassica bed and raked them in well. I then trod over the area to firm the ground and raked again. Brassicas enjoy firm soil and they are less likely to bolt and help them fill out better.
We decided to plant the Brassica plants in trenches with raised sides to act as min-dikes. With all the talk of drought and possible hose pipe bans we are trying out ways of watering wisely. These trenches should ensure that any rain is directed towards the plants.
We packed away our tools and locked up the shed after a busy, productive couple of hours. Back to the community hut to collect one of the site mowers and the grass strimmer, and we were off to mow the grass around the community meadow area and the turf spiral. But we wandered around the site first and found three real little gems.
This first gem we found was a native fritillary growing in a batch in the first of the community orchards and the second, a more unusual fritillary, in a small patch in the Hazel Grove.
The third gem was a hatched shell near one of the native hedgerows. This little sky blue beauty is the egg of a Song Thrush, so we were delighted to find it. Thrushes are becoming more frequent on the site as our community wildlife areas are becoming more established. We often see them feeding under the feeding stations or rummaging in the leaf litter beneath the hedges.
We mowed and trimmed for a couple of hours before our backs shouted “Enough! Enough!”