Weekly update/tour – early strawberries, planting, reducing our workload and composting plans
In today’s video I provide an update on what’s happened over the last few days. The focus continues to be on reducing our spring and summer workload, preparing for spring and getting ready for the polytunnel.
Specifically I pot up early strawberries. Plant lettuces and beets (for leaves), carry a lot of compost and talk about my evolving composting strategy.
Compost continues to be a huge issue for us, we have about 100 sq meteres to be composted, we put down 7cm a year, so that’s 7 cubic metres of compost. I have three hot composting bins so that means I need two full loads per bin per year. That’s just too much. It’s an unfair share of the communal horse manure delivery and there’s just not enough time to get everything fully rotted down.
So today I ordered 3 cubic metres of already well rotted manure and mushroom compost. That will provide everything we need until autumn. By then the compost that we have in our plastic bins should be ready to mulch in autumn. We also have two cubic metres that should be ready next spring.
The bottom line is that buying in 3-4 cubic metres a year allows us to focus on creating much higher quality and better rotten compost ourselves. It takes the pressure off and we only need to take our fair share from the bins. Our personal composting then focuses on wood chips, seaweed, leaves and green waste from our plots.
If you are new to my allotment videos you might find a bit of context useful. We have three allotments in my family, mine (Steve), my wife’s (Debbie) and one of our daughter’s (Jennie). We also have a small kitchen garden at home. They are all managed in an integrated fashion, so don’t expect to see the usual mix of veg on each plot.
On Jennie’s plot, for example, we focus on potatoes, squash, alliums, and brassicas. This video provides an overview https://youtu.be/q1k-2vIoSQ8. I do a monthly tour of each allotment, roughly one a week, you can find the tours here https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLFhKoRR-NiCJn5Y6rZf0RCCqycu3xvofX.
Our approach to allotment life is to: grow as much as we possibly can, to be self-sufficient in veg all year round and in fruit in summer, to give away our huge surplus to friends and family, and to have as much fun as possible.
My wife and I spend about 4 hours a day, 4 days a week on the plots (on average) and we keep nudging that down as we eliminate non-productive work: like grass cutting, weeding and watering as much as practical. We are both newbie gardeners, only starting the allotments in 2016.
I’m a bit obsessive about the nutrient density of the veg that we grow and making the plots easy to work because it’s through this allotment lifestyle and food that I’ve overcome a debilitating auto-immune disease. I’m always aware though that it might not last so I make sure that I don’t work too hard, eat the most organic fruit and veg I can and design the plots so that I can still work them if I flare up again.