When we took over plot 114, the soft fruit area we had inherited really was the problem area. The raspberries had been completly untended and had spread across the whole area. The strawberry patch had ran amock too and I have disposed of no end of runners and plants. The whole area really put Amy off taking on this allotment but I managed to prod her in the direction of all of the positives and remind her that 'in the summer' it would all look fantastic. The patch was also covered in prickly brambles and blackberry bushes, and seeing as there is a bush behind our garden already, we know we have a good supply and therefore could eliminate them from the allotment completly.
I really can't believe this is what it used to look like, and for novice vegetable gardener Amy, I can see why she was slightly put off..
It took hours, days, maybe just over a week to clear the endless amounts of nasty stuff. Not knowing whether the raspberries were a summer or autumn cropping variety. I took good advice from Monty Don and just simply removed any dead wood and lef the rest of the canes well alone, and just wait and see what happens this year.
It wasn't just what was on top of the soil it was what was underneath it aswell. You might remember we found tons of carpet under the vegetable area, and udner this there was bin bags, black plastic, rotted weed supressing membranes aswell as rotted tools and cigarette packets. What a concoction!
When I eventually got the patch looking like a patch of earth and not a wasteland. It was time to get planting. I said earlier that I binned a whole load of strawberry plants that were covering large proportions of the allotment and this might seem wasteful, but I wanted to start with new virus free stock in order to manage our fruit properly. We may as well start as we wish to go on..
So I ordered 30 plants from fothergills online, and we watered the strawberry bed right at the very end of the allotment very heavily before covering it with multi purpose compost and then a membrane to prevent weed growth. I then made a slit in the membrane for each plant and then added a top layer of bark which will keep the slugs off the strawberry fruit crop come early summer..
We had plenty of bark left so we made a bark path inbetween the raspeberry frames which makes access a lot better for us. I say two raspberry frames, but it is now actually just one raspberry frame and a frame for a grapevine too! To edge the path and strawberry bed we have just used bricks that we have found on our plot since taking it over, and it certainly looks very posh..
Here is the whole area..
We also have some fruit bushes too. There is one big blackcurrant bush, I've never grown blackcurrants before so that is quite exciting, the only problem being that big bud is present on the bush.
Just a tip.. NEVER google 'big bud', you won't find anything to do with blackcurrant bushes at all.
Here's a picture of one of the diagnosed buds...
I've also added three gooseberry bushes opposite the blackcurrant bushes at the other end of the strawberry bed. They are young stock, so I'm not expecting much of a harvest this year.
All of the raspberry canes and established fruit bushes have been mulched with well rotted manure and it definately seems to have given them a boost.
I hope you like the area, the photos might not do it justice because of the rain. But we are definately the envy of the allotment site, there are already whispers from old hands about the allotment of the year destination, but I won't hold my breath! It definately looked superb in that scorching week in late July, I mean MARCH!
Come back soon for the next two installements which should be up by the end of the week!
I STILL can't believe it is May already!