Transition Horsham Community Allotment 2018

24th February 2018

Thanks to weeding, tidying up and pruning of fruit trees and bushes during 2017, the allotment is in a much better state compared to this time last year. Working parties have not yet commenced but some of us have been doing odd jobs in preparation for the upcoming growing season. A small path is under construction next to the greenhouse, where weeds were previously encroaching. The weeds have been remnoved and ground gleared in preparation to lay as path and a small adjacent area for a flower or herb border. A new raised bed has been constructed in front of the greenhouse, made out of wood from Valerie's demolished shed. The regular winter rains combined with six consecutive months of below average sunshine mean the pond is very full, and in the last week, some frog spawn has appeared. The frogs evidently haven't seen the weather forecast for the coldest week of winter weather in five years coming up, hope the eggs will survive the persistent freezing temperatures.

There is a smattering of produce on the plot. Perpetual spinach is dotted about, some of this is self seeded, and last year some has seeded next to one of the large raised beds. There was one burussel sprout plant and one kalette plant (kalette is a cross between kale and brussel sprouts, it produces flowery heads which look like blown brussel sprouts). Unfortunately there is no brocolli, as we didn't manage to harvest it quickly enough before it flowered. The leeks did ok and some are still standing near the greenhouse waiting to be harvested.

17th March 2018

A few days from the Spring equinox but Horsham is still in full winter conditions. 2018 so far is turning into another year with an extended winter. Not much that can be done with the weather so poor, and the ground so soggy, but some work has been done to build a small fence to train the grape vine which is located next to the greenhouse. Holes have been dug and fence posts sunk and supported, with the aim of attaching wire between the posts, which will be used to train the vine around one corner of the patio.

A few of us were at the Brighton Ecofair in the morning promoting the community allotment. We had a few interested people, which is great, and I am optimistic we can do a great job with the allotment this year with the aid of some extra pairs of hands.

The frogs have been very busy over the last month. At the end of February there were two clumps of frog spawn in the pond. Now the frog spawn is along one long side of the pond, next to the path. I wonder how much of it will survive, as both times that frogs have spawned, a freezing cold snap has followed.

7th April 2018

At last, the temperatures are resembling something like Spring, rather than the middle of January. We had another newcomer this week who helped to plant the potatoes. Further weeding was done and some onion sets were planted. One of the large raised beds was cleared and topped up with soil. We now have two raised beds ready for sowing seeds, which will be done at the upcoming work parties. The potatoes which were planted in the greenhouse in mid February survived the cold spell and have now come through the soil. They will hopefully give an early crop in late May or early June. The large tree branches which were the result of some winter pruning earlier in the winter have been chopped up and will form a log pile to provide shelter for beneficial wildlife.

The frog spawn also survived the cold March and the pond is now full of little tadpoles. When they grow into frogs they hopefully will help to keep the slug population down.

May/June 2018

Well the weather certainly has done a complete turnaround. Two spectacular warm and sunny bank holiday weekends, and very little rain throughout May and so far into June. Summer has started a month early, and it looks dry until the end of June at least. Drought conditions have affected the community allotment pond which has almost dried up, much to the dismay of the tadpoles, and has to be periodically topped up.

Lots of planting out has been done during this period, including sowing seeds in the raised beds (with mixed success), brassicas planted out complete with protective cage, and leeks planted out on the 16th June. Thanks to the help of some new volunteers, some progress has been made on clearing the fruit beds of weeds, which are looking much better now. The potatoes which were originally planted in the greenhouse in February have been harvested, and the outdoor potatoes will be ready for harvest very soon. Tomatoes have been planted in the greenhouse and we are keeping things well watered in the very dry conditions which have prevailed for nearly two months, so dry we have run out of harvested rainwater and are having to use the mains water supply. The felt roof on the shed, which was the worse for wear and failing to keep the water out, has been repaired (thanks Radek).

August 2018

Given the prolonged dry weather, it has been decided to retreat the shed, which was looking a bit tired with much of the existing treatment flaking off. Work started at the end of July and is currently in progress. With mostly dry weather set to continue, it is hoped that bit by bit, the work will be done within a couple of weeks.

UPDATE: The shed treatment is now finished.

October-November 2018

The autumn has been very benign so far, after the damp August dry weather has resumed. Now is a good time to start on another major project, building woodchip paths in between the main vegetable beds. I have luckily been able to source a large quantity of woodchip for no cost from my workplace, so I have started excavating a path parallel to the hard path and between the beds. The excavated soil has been used to top up the raised beds.

December 2018

The weather continues to be very uneventful, apart from the annoying tendency for it to rain on the weekend, which stopped me continuing work on the woodchip paths for five consecutive weeks. Finally in the run up to Christmas I managed to get the primary paths completed thanks to a lull in the wet weekends. It is now much easier to walk between beds when the ground is wet.

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Pond Pond Pond Pond fruit brassicas shed treatment woodchip paths