Allotment – taking stock

It being September, almost the end of the growing season, it seems natural to take stock of how that growing season has gone. This has been my first year of not digging and my results have been sufficiently good to attract the attention of my neighbouring plotholders. My crops have on average been at least as good as those of the people who dug their plots in the normal way.

Today I cleared away the mange tout peas and spread compost over that and a couple of other bare areas of the plot. All the winter veg I need has either been in the ground since spring or was planted to follow maincrop peas. That has left me with about a third of the ground now bare. I see nothing to gain by delaying applying a compost mulch, the main function of which is to protect the bare soil from winter rain. I say main function because I am working on a silty and stony soil which does not form strong structure in a high rainfall area ie. Cornwall.

allotment-9

Onions gone, nothing to follow, now mulched with compost.

 

I have worked hard to produce a good volume of compost this year, shredding everything I could get hold of and adding it to the heap. Last year I used quite a lot of freshly shredded material as mulch but I think it may have encouraged the slugs so I wanted to avoid repeating that if I could. On the other hand, I think the fresh material strongly encouraged the soil fauna and I wonder if composted material will be as effective. I also went into last winter with much more empty ground. How effective growing crops will be at protecting the soil remains to be seen and of course the organic matter cannot be applied until just before new crops go in next spring. I am wondering about mulching around crops like kale and sprouts this autumn in order that the ground is in the best possible condition in spring.

allotment-10

Kale in good shape but will the soil be better in spring if mulched now?

I also received my first seed catalogue today. So much tempting stuff. My aim next year will be to avoid gluts better and spread harvests out as much as possible. So easy to say, so much harder to achieve.

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