In the last couple of weeks we’ve been doing lots of planting. The average last frost date for us is 28th May, with this out of the way we had to get on with it and get everything in the ground. We had a mixture of stuff we started off indoors to plant out, and seed to sow straight to the ground. I’ll be putting on a little inventory of what we have later, alongside a rough costing of the allotment work and harvests.

On our last allotment everything was done in a bit of a rush during our spare time before or after work. As such I didn’t take any special care with planting techniques. Now we have a bit more time I’ve been doing my research and have been trying to follow the instructions I’ve found. Most things seem to be common sense, but I found some good tips on planting cabbages, Brussels, and Leeks.  Planting out leeks that have been started off indoors has always mystified me, and I still don’t really know what I’m doing, it seems a bit odd making a big hole and just dropping the young leeks into it, but I’ve seen this done at my old allotment and read about it, so I’ve given it a go. They are still alive after a week, so maybe they will be ok. A short video below of what I did, any tips welcome for next time.

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So it is getting a little warmer, the snow is starting to melt and it feels like spring is definitely on the way. The official Polish sign of things changing for the warmer is the first sightings of Storks, there has only been one of these, which can be considered an outlier, so there is still some way to go, nevertheless I can’t hold back any longer.

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I have been putting off sowing the first batch of seeds. From my first year of the allotment I learned a valuable lesson. On that occasion I sowed early batches in Jan (this was in England), I ended up with a lot of tomatoes ready to be planted out, and other things, way before the weather would allow it. I ended up with 50 odd tomatoes plants squeezed into a very small greenhouse that I had made. Looking after them was very time consuming, taking them out of the house every morning and putting them in at night, to avoid the frosts, took 15mins a go at least, not to mention they all ended up a bit stressed out; the batch I planted early April ended up giving fruit the same time as the ones I sowed in Jan.

https://cityandthemountains.wordpress.com/2011/06/27/tomato-dreaming/

https://cityandthemountains.wordpress.com/2011/04/27/tomatoes-re-potted/

So not to make the same mistake twice I have sowed into some trays that I think will keep the tomatoes in good shape for about 8 wks (based on my previous experiments). This gives me until early may. The average last spring frost date here is 26th May, which means I will have to have my poly-tunnel ready and I will have to come up with something clever to keep it over a few degrees in there overnight. I read in John Seymour (guide to self-sufficiency) that you can put a compost heap in the greenhouse, if it has plenty of hoarse manure and other goodies high in nitrogen it will produce enough heat to keeps things snug over night. We’ll see…

I sowed:

Tomatoes (36): 12 each of three varieties.
Aubergines (24)
Globe artichokes (12): Don’t know much about these other than they are perennial. Not sure how long it takes from seed to plate. When I have some details I’ll get back to you.
Red and White onions (seeds) (56 of each).

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I thought it would be interesting to do a bit of a stock take of the lay of the land and the natural resources on offer. I’ve given a couple of google satellite images and broken them into sections giving names to help discuss them. I might put this up as a page on its own so you can refer back later. I do hope we’ll all come up with some more inventive names, although they may well be in Polish, so these unimaginative ones may be more practical for a bit.

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Large field:

This year we are letting another farmer plant and harvest corn in this area. It is too much for us this year so in exchange for a few quid, literally, the land will be ploughed, sowed, harvested and hopefully manured again.

largefield

Small Field:

This is about 6000m2, and will be the site of our vegetable and soft fruit patches. We are planning to use 1000m2 for this, dividing it into 8 or 9 rows 5*35m. We will use one row for perennial crops, which will stay the same over the years, and then rotate the other rows giving one row a rest every 7 years. Initially we will be fencing this 1000m2 odd to protect from dear and wild boar, not so many rabbits hear as in England. There are a few ideas about the rest of this section, maybe a vineyard, maybe a section of woodland. It is relatively dry and sandy soil. The allotment is the priority this year, so we’ll se what happens with the rest. We would love a vineyard but will have to do a bit of research on varieties that will survive the harsh winter.

Smallfield

Woodland:

I haven’t worked out the size of this yet, but it is crucial to our self-sufficiency plans. Eventually all our cooking, heating and hot water will come from wood. In Poland the forestry people technically own any forest land on your property. You have to ask them for permission to cut down trees. We had our guy come out this weekend and he showed us what we can cut. Most of our trees are no good for anything but the fire (I’m not sure what they are in English yet). We have about 7 decent sized trees to cut, as well as a load of smaller ones. Unfortunately our forest guy found the evidence of people cutting down loads of our trees sometime in the last year whilst we weren’t staying here. This is a shame, but I think we have enough wood for a few years. Our plans are to plant another woodland area with Birch. These trees are cheap here, about 1000 trees for £200, and they are fast growing. Not sure how many we will plant the first year but we want to build up our woodlands to enable us to be self-sufficient in fuel in 5 years odd. Lots more of my wood management education to come. I have a chainsaw now, courtesy of my wife’s parents (excellent birthday present!!), and we need to cut the trees by the end of March. Can’t do it before we are staying there a bit as the wood will just get stolen.

woodland

I’ll carry on with this in another post, I’m sure that’s enough to read for now. Any ideas or comments welcome! I’m off to price up and try to design a poly-tunnel.

A list of jobs to be done over the next week:

Plant out spuds.
Weed and rearrange our growing strawberry patch.

Looking to the future:

Dig the 3rd and 4th plots according to our new layout plan…. https://cityandthemountains.wordpress.com/2011/11/20/new-plot-layout-season-2/
Clear the place up.
Lay down slug defenses
 

Before

Following my long list of jobs I ventured down the allotment on Sunday for a proper days work. Spent 8hrs down there and got most of it done. I’ve taken a couple of overview shots to show the fruits of my labour. Doesn’t look that impressive but I did really work hard!!

  • Did a decent bit of weeding, digging over was I went. Concentrated on the area where I’m planning to plant out the tomatoes. Still a line of weeds to deal with this weekend.
  • Weeded the fiddly bits between carrots etc, quite delicate work, which should pay off in the long run.
  • Planted out – Brussels, cabbage, spring onions, beetroot, Kohlrabi, leeks, marigold, 2 giant pumpkins (put them in the broad bean bed).
  • Sowed out – Leeks, kohlrabi, sunflowers, coriander (all around the carrot beds).
  • Put some netting around the strawberries (not a very good job, mk 2 will be better.
  • Raked up potatoes.
  • Put fleecing over some newly sowed carrots (I noticed some crows on the scrounge).

After - Almost done.

On Tuesday managed to get our strawberry’s in before the rain and wind hit Cornwall the last few days. Have 10 plants altogether. Dug them in and planted them on top of a bit of manure. Weather’s been bad the last few days with high wind and lots of rain, hopefully they’ve taken okay. Also planted out some Asparagus and moved a rhubarb, which I found out I’d planted upside-down.

Strawberry bed.

I’m feeling some urgency about getting the spuds in the ground as soon as possible now. As mentioned before I’ve been instructed they need 12 weeks and in Cornwall its a race before blight sets in around July time. Spurred on by the thought of a winter with no roast potatoes I set the alarm and got down the allotment for a quick session before work. Managed to get two rows in, 22 sprouting spuds. It was a beautiful day so also went down after work to get another two rows in, thus completing all our earlies. Planning to plant the rest during the weekend.

Following advice I dug trenches (my favorite job) about a spade depth. Put some fairly raw compost in the bottom (should be well rotted but I was told something is better than nothing), and filled the hole back in (after placing the potatoes in the hole of course). Also built up a bit of extra soil so that I have little rows of mounds protruding from the bed. This is to give a bit more protection from any frost.

 

Earlies in the trench ready to be covered.