Allotments in bad weather

The March gales certainly put paid to some of our gardening plans! All over the site, people were battening down and preparing for bad weather, which was a good thing, because the storms hit us hard, as they did most people. As you can see in the photograph, the clouds were gathering overhead as most of us were running around trying to get everything tied down, brought in, or tucked under cover.

A lot of allotment holders were in the process of hardening off their autumn sown brassicas – the plants, which have been kept under cover during the winter, need acclimatisation to prepare them for the permanent move to outdoor conditions so it’s been commonplace to see allotment holders carrying trays of young plants out on fine days, to adjust, and bringing them back in overnight, but there was a rush to get them all back indoors, or under protection, when we realised how bad the weather was going to get. It’s going to mean a bit of a check on their progress, as we’ve had four or five days in our region, when there was no opportunity to get them outside without them either blowing away or being drenched by sleety rain, so the hardening off process will now take a week longer than everybody had planned.

Lots of folk were planning to plant out their dormant rhubarb this week too, picking the sunniest spots on their plots to give the stems plenty of chance to turn pink or ruby, depending on variety, but that’s had to be put on hold too, as the ground has been more like a swamp than anything else.

What it has been possible to do, in the breaks in the weather, is divide perennial herbs like mint and chives, as they are outdoors all year anyway, so there’s been at least one task we’ve all been able to get on with. And, of course, because every cloud has a silver lining, we’ve been enjoying watching our water butts and tanks brimming over, which is great because we all prefer to water with rainwater where we can.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Saturday, March 15, 2008


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please help, I have taken on a plot for the first time two months ago. It is currently flooded. I am in the process of trying to raise the beds but the amount of water on the plot, calf deep in some places, makes me think that this will not be enough. A fork into the soil and it is just like very squelchy mud.

April 13, 2008 at 8:13 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Dear Anonymous - I'm going to blog about this very issue today, because taking on allotments that turn out to have some inbuilt problem is something that causes a lot of grief! In the short term there is very little you can do - raised beds will help but they have to have a layer of superb drainage or they will just become soil bowls in which the water will be trapped, so make sure you put a deep strata of large gravel or pebbles at the bottom and if you're raising them on wood supports, drill drainage holes in the wood.

If you have solid paths (concrete, paving slabs etc) the runoff will be arriving on your beds, so think about breaking them up, or laying gravel or turf paths, or just wooden decking (pallets are a great source) so the water passes through or under the path not over it and washes onto the veg.

A hedge of willow helps a lot! Buy or beg willow slips and plant a willow hedge at the lowest edge of your allotment - willow is a thirsty plant and if you keep it well cut (back to only eight inches tall each winter) you'll find the plants soak up a lot of spring water.

April 21, 2008 at 12:27 AM  

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