Early morning Saturday path fixes at the lockdown allotment

Today is Saturday, the 25th of April 2020. It has been quite a marathon visit to the allotment plot today. Arriving at 6:30am at the front gate and staying for 5 hours and 40 minutes. This was planned and expected because I was fixing the path surrounding my main allotment.

Each 2m 40cm section of path takes approximately three hours to complete, as I discovered the last time I did a section at the allotment last weekend. This weekend I hoped to get two sections completed.

Two sections dug out

First job is to dig out the turf, each piece of turf is approximately 35 cm wide on the short side. This makes two of them fit in the 70 cm width of the path. Digging out the turf is not a difficult job but each piece has to be carefully cut with the spade to ensure it is the correct thickness all the way across the grass.

Adding the wooden border is easy after this. The width is 70 cm across and so the only two things to do are: keep it 70cm all the way down and then level it across with the spirit level.

Back fill the new path

The long plot against the wall is used as a source of soil for backfilling into the path. It is raised up to path height. A surprising number of wheelbarrow trips are needed to backfill this section. Each wheelbarrow was individually sifted to remove stones, plastics and weeds. The the soil was then stomped down and finally a loose layer added on top and flattened equally using a wooden slat.

The whole place was very quiet. There are lots of birds around however. Robin as usual, the large noisy pheasant, a couple of magpies that would keep appearing, some crows in the trees. Lots of small birds on the feeders. Every hour the village church would chime (one hour behind). Other than that it was quiet.

Turfed up

Then, once the soil level is ready for turf is replaced lengthwise. Each piece is carefully added and then the gaps in between is filled with more soil. Everything is compacted down. Finally the whole thing is given a good soaking with the water pipe.

Here comes Elvis

This whole lot took proximately 5 and 1/2 hours to finish. As I was packing up and getting ready to go home I saw the garden cat, Elvis. She looked quite tired and hungry. So when I return the tools to the car I picked up some cat treats from the boot and returned to finish the final job of the day: give Elvis some cat treats.

The lockdown is still in full force. There were a few people at the allotment today, but only 4 or 5 while I was there. On the way out of the gardens I saw some cyclists passing through. There are a few more people walking on the back roads and some more cyclists. But it’s still very quiet.

Good Friday lockdown allotment visit

Today is Friday April 10, 2020. It is my day off work and as usual I am up at dawn. But, this time instead of the commute from the bedroom downstairs into the small room… instead of sitting inside in front of the computer all day (which I would be doing anyway) instead of all that: it’s a bank holiday so, I had planned a quick trip to the allotment for my daily allowed exercise.

The car was packed and ready, my bag was packed and all my clothes laid out (on the floor — you can’t tell the difference there either). Within 10 minutes of waking up, I was in the car and had set off, travelling the short way to the plot.

No one is usually around at this time in the morning anyway but even more so during the country-wide lockdown.

I didn’t see a soul as I drove down the back roads through the fields, not a thing on the roads except for the rabbit that was racing me on the grass verge. There was nobody around as I unlocked the main gate with a sanitation wipe, nobody except for the two peasants strutting around the front gate and in the middle of the road outside. There was nobody in the main grounds or in front of the house as I walked past, not a thing except for sheep and new born lambs walking around the fields and sheltering under the trees. No one at all in the gardens or inside the walled allotment, no body except for Elvis the garden cat (sorry Elvis I forgot your treats again!) … I was all alone. No voices or car noises in the distance, no bells marking congregations from the village church, no contrails in the sky, only a couple of ducks flying past.

The borders of the long plot are looking straighter and neater. I’ve finished one long side on my main plot. The long plot against the wall has started to go into shape as well! As I look around, the other allotment owners are holding up their side of the schizophrenic country by digging their plots.

The sweetcorn have now gone in

Tonight’s job was to take the sweetcorn seedlings down to the allotment and dig them into the plot. I’ve now moved onto the next half of the plot because the first half is full. I cleared a space and arranged a grid of bamboo poles before planting the seedlings.

I had grown 36 sweetcorn seedlings and all but 4 of them had grown okay. My grid of 5×7 has three missing poles. And this has turned out better because it makes it easier to get to the centre sweetcorn. I have left a little path into the square.

This half of the plot doesn’t have a proper border yet. I have the wood planks and some stakes but I thought it was more important to bring the sweetcorn seedlings from home rather than finish the edges.

I have left enough room for the next job: the borders again.

Apart from digging in the sweetcorn, there was a lot of wildlife this evening. The garden cat came calling, wanting some food which I keep in the compost bin. Elvis was fed and went away happy. There were two robins dotting around and waiting for me to dig up some grubs. And finally the large male pheasant made an appearance and let out an almighty “squark!” noise, before strutting off to bother another plot holder.

It was a nice evening and I spent two hours at the allotment this evening.

Grass cutting with the pheasants

Tonight was a fantastic evening. The sun has been out all day, I had left work early and finished off the day at home so I was able to miss the rush hour and be ready to leave for the allotment at a sensible time. And there were helpers tonight!

When we arrived, with my Dad and the little one in tow (plus little scooter for scooting outside the main grounds), we immediately went to find Elvis and feed her a big sachet of cat food.

Elvis appeared and looked hungry as usual. I was a little worried we might find her trapped inside a klosh like we did the other day, but happily, she was ok this time.

While grandad and the little one sorted out the garden cat, and watched the two pheasants strutting around on one of the empty plots, I had enough time to quickly mow the edges of my allotment. Just one quick run around with the petrol mower! It only took 5 minutes and looked a lot better after the small effort.

Tomorrow, we will nip down again to install a small trellis and transplant the tayberry that has been hiding in my temporary (long) plot for two years. I have finally finished enough border in my main plot to be able to transplant it. This year I hope to get a truck full of tayberries out of this plant.