Planting plans for 2021

Always start with a plan! Click the image for our full planting plan for 2021 covering the three plots.

Nothing ever stands still for an allotmenteer. Every year brings reflection, change, new ideas and challenges to overcome. Over the last 12 months there has been pretty big changes in our growing areas. We have dropped the tenancy for one of the half plots (1b), cleared and cultivated the new half plot (5b) and made a complete overhaul of the layout and structure of plot 2b including putting up a fruit cage and polytunnel.

What are the plans for this year? What are we doing differently and what do we hope to achieve?

Giant Veg
For the first time we will be attempting to grow a giant cabbage and seeing if we can beat the 167mm long chilli we managed last season. There are also giant onions in the pipeline! All of these are not serious attempts at record breakers – just a bit of fun!

Giant Cabbage seedlings pricked out in early March have been growing on in the polytunnel

Converting Plot 5b to fully ‘No Dig’
After taking on plot 5b we made the decision to dig the plot initially. This wasn’t the ideal circumstances as we did want to clear the plot by ‘No Dig‘ methods, but the plot was well infested with couch grass, brambles & creeping buttercup and we simply did not have enough mulch to manage the new plot as well as our existing space. Last Spring we set to put the hours in to get a fast turn around on getting the plot into production. The plan was always to convert the plot over to ‘No Dig’. The plot was covered in cardboard at the end of last season and once the beds are fully mulched this will be our first ‘No Dig’ season on Plot 5b!

Plot 5b with freshly dug beds last Spring

Getting to grips with polytunnel growing
This is the first growing season we had had the polytunnel. So far we are using the tunnel to start seeds including setting up a hotbed. The beds will then be used to grow tomatoes, cucumbers, aubergines, chillies and peppers, alongside some early crops including salads, sweetcorn and heat-loving beans such as snake beans and lima beans. In the longer term we plan to add an apricot tree and a grape vine, but this year we will use as a learning curve to understand the mini climate formed in the tunnel and how best to manage this.

This early in the season there are big fluctuations in day and night time temperatures, but you can see a general increase over time.

Working towards self sufficiency in producing our compost supplies
Unfortunately over the last couple of years the regular delivery of well rotted manure that supplied the allotment ground has fallen through. Whilst there are a number of local riding stables who offer manure free for collection we don’t have a van or trailer! There is a limit to how much manure you can fit in bags in a hatchback! We have improved our composting skills and now manage to produce about 1.5 -2 tonnes of compost using a large 3 bay system. In order to fully mulch with a 1inch covering we need about 4 tonnes of compost annually. Without a supply of manure this is quite tricky! We are currently expanding our composting structures to fit another 2 bays on plot 5b and 1 on plot 4. I have found a supplier for manure and I am currently testing a small sample to ensure it is aminopyralid weedkiller free before bringing in around 3 tonnes to stack and fully compost for next spring.

About 1.5 tonnes of our homemade compost produced from collections at the end of last season.

What are your plans for 2021?