Winter protection on allotments

Our broad bean ‘cloches’ appear to be holding up really well. In previous years we’ve started off our overwintering broad beans under glass, but with the new restrictions in our allotment rules about using glass on allotments, we decided to adopt a new method. I’m actually rather in favour of the new rules, as I’ve spent many years trying to get rid of broken windows and shattered panes of glass that former allotment-holders had abandoned on their plots. Some sites remove glass but charge the incoming allotment-holder, some remove it but at the council operatives’ leisure (longest time I’ve waited – seven months!) and some insist that the new tenant removes it themselves. In every case, it’s a bother.

So we’ve come up with a combination method that we hope will work: seeds mulched with newspaper, topped with straw and then covered with horticultural fleece. We mark the rows and then dampen sheets of newspaper and lay along the planting line, through which we dib holes to the right depth for the seed, sow the seed and infill with compost. Then we strew hay over the top, tent the fleece over the line markers and pin it down with old scaffold poles that we found at the back of the voodoo shed, along with the walking sticks, the nine mirrors and the dolls’ heads.

The theory is one we’ve used in the past for summer crops. The wet newspaper suppresses weed growth around the seedlings as they emerge, the straw traps warmth and the fleece keeps off damage, in this case snow and ice, while allowing moisture to penetrate.

We were a bit worried that the wintry gales over the weekend could have ravaged the broad beans, but it turns out that our theory holds good so far … as long as the wind stays below hurricane levels I think we’ll have found a new and productive system for early broad bean germination.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Tuesday, December 6, 2011


Blogger Shianne said...

I think that's a great idea. Did it work well in the end?

September 19, 2012 at 4:03 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

It worked very well - and you can follow our progress at our new blog over at:

October 30, 2012 at 8:44 AM  

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