At the beginning of January, we decided to give the allotment plots in the Peter Buckley Learning Centre (PBLC) vegetable growing area a spruce up for this year’s growing season by boarding out each plot.
The vegetable growing area has multiple uses; however the main one is by Rosemoor’s own community allotment course. We offer ten plots to members of the local community to come and learn the skills they need to successfully grow their own veg. For £50 each, the allotment keepers are given a small plot of ground, all the tools and equipment and the manure and compost they require. The seeds are generously donated by Thompson and Morgan for each plot holder. The allotment keepers also receive one tutorial a month from one of the fruit and veg. team on what they need to be doing at that time of year, from soil cultivation and seed sowing to pest and diseases to harvesting their crops which they get to keep and enjoy. The course runs from February through to October, with a new group of people starting each year.
2012 was the first year we ran this course and was so successful that several of our allotment keepers wanted to come back for a second time this year, however we were successful in recruiting a full set of new allotment keepers for this year. The plots last year were originally divided by pathways dug into the ground and topped off with wood chip, this though, proved inadequate as when the plots were dug over the soil spilled onto the paths and soon turned muddy and weedy. So this year it was decided to board out each plot to retain the soil on the allotments and keep it off the woodchip paths.
The Allotment plots last year
Pete Earl and myself set to in early January laying out 4x2 inch treated wooden boards around the plots and screwing them to 18 inch long 2x2 posts hammered down in to the ground to hold them upright and in place. Meanwhile Garry Preston and Andrew Lane set about working ahead of us digging out pathways so we could place the boards to run level and parallel with one another. 3 days of digging, hammering, cutting and screwing saw the job near to completion and all that was left to do was fill the paths with woodchip and level over the soil in the plots. Not only will the wooden edging help to retain the soil, but it has quickly smartened the area and added some formality to the plots.
This picture shows the boards attached to the posts.
Plots are neatly divided with wood chip pahtways inbetween.
Keep an eye out on the allotment plots when you visit Rosemoor and watch them grow, from bare barren patches of earth into productive vegetable patches over the coming months. It is also worth watching out for the onion set and runner bean trials that we will be running in the vegetable growing area this year in association with the RHS Garden Wisley trial department, to see if any of the varieties are eligible for an Award of Garden Merit (AGM).
Photos: Sheila Dearing