December at Plot 4

It’s getting colder now and most days when I visit the plot after the school run I’m greeted with a delicate frosty blanket on the sage bush near the gate. It’s definitely winter and the log burner in the shed is coming into its own, proving a great place to go and warm up or dry off if the weather deteriorates. Despite this there are many things I want or need to do this month.

The shed itself needs a little more work on it, with a combination of bubble wrap and the leftover insulation from my brother’s extension. The plan is to cut the sheets to size, fitting them between the uprights of the shed. The bubble wrap I’ve got insulating the wall at present will be repurposed in the greenhouse; allowing us to continue to grow throughout the colder months.

There is still a bit of harvesting to be done with the last of the Cime di Rapa, as well as Cavalo Nero and the broccoli to pick. I’ll also be giving the brassicas a bit of a helping hand through winter; removing any yellowing leaves which may harbour disease, as well as firming the soil around the roots to give them a secure base. The winter digging will of course continue, with more manure and last years compost to add to the soil as space becomes available.

Winter is also the time when we should look after the birds that visit the allotment; so I plan to increase the number of feeders, including some for the ground feeders like Robins. I’m also planning to put up a new bird box to encourage nesting next summer. I’ve just got to source some wood which hasn’t been earmarked for the log burner!

Time to Dig

As the first frosts hit the plot, its time to clear away the final signs of a summer of growing. The ever-growing nasturtium have wilted under the frost and the courgette plants have long given up producing their fruits. With the weather dry and bright, if  a little chilly, I’ve taken the opportunity to clear and dig over the big bed at the front of the plot.

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I always used to hate digging, but recently have found it to be a very therapeutic activity. First of all its a good workout; apparently you can burn 600-700 calories in an hours digging, and even three hours of general gardening burns a similar amount of calories. The active part of having an allotment really helps to clear the head and increase motivation, but I find that the very nature of turning over soil to start again is a useful metaphor for trying to forge a new balance and direction in my life.

I also took the opportunity to add some organic material, manure, to the soil. Although we’ve been improving the soil since taking on the plot, it still benefits from the addition of some well rotted manure to loosen and aerate the clay soil. Hopefully the winter frosts can help to break up the soil and lead to a fertile start to next year.