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Day on the Lottie

We spent today on the lottie catching up on a few jobs and taking advantage of some sun and warmth, a December treat. We popped up for half an hour to plant 3 rose bushes owed to us from our big delivery of David Austin roses last year. So we added three Wenlock roses to our site’s community Summer Garden. The half hour became an afternoon as we planted whips of native trees and shrubs in the native hedge and “Edible Hedge”, rowan, elder, dogwood, wild cherry, cherry plum etc.

Then we turned our attention to our own lottie where the blackberry and tayberry were crying out for attention. The blackberry had put on masses of growth last year so I set to pruning out the brambles that had fruited this year and thinned out some of the new growth. Luckily it is a thornless variety. Once tied back in it all looked much more tidy and we looked at it willing it to be productive for us next year. The tayberry, although not thornless, is still a young bramble so took less work.

The Blackberry prior to pruning.
And after pruning.

Meanwhile as I tackled the brambles, Jude the undergardener hoed between the rows of overwintering crops. This is the most efficient way of keeping an allotment plot looking tidy as well as killing any tiny seedlings even those yet to emerge from the soil.

The fresh growth of garlic, onions and shallots spear the soil and its compost topping with bright green freshness, a real treat in the winter cold. The broad beans planted in early autumn and the mooli sown in late summer add a welcome lushness of growth.

Broad bean plants patiently waiting out winter.
Moolii, the radish with white icicle roots for winter enjoyment.

Ground left bare through the winter would be thrashed by winter rains and its goodness leached out so we cover such patches with green manure such as winter tares. This year when we sowed it in early autumn the weather was so dry that germination was delayed and growth of the seedlings has been so slow that they are still small. We are hoping they will catch up if the weather allows. The Phacelia in the photo below however germinated well and has grown on healthily. It was self-sown from a patch of wildflowers sown as a bug bank.

So as we are now officially in winter and temperatures are dropping to nearer seasonal norms, the plot is looking good. Next year’s seeds are ordered as are the seed potatoes so we are well ahead of ourselves. The photo below looks through the newly pruned tayberry at the rows of leeks, mooli and broad beans.