This year did not have the most promising start in terms of weather – just as I was about to go and sow my first few batches of seed and down came the snow. I hemmed and hawed, put things back a week but finally decided after a few days of ominous grey, but unproductive, skies to get the show on the road.
So the first seeds I’ve sown for my plot* were broad beans (Vicia faba ‘Aquadulce’), peas (Pisum sativum ‘Bijou’) and sweet peas (Lathyrus odorata ‘Midnight’ & ‘White Supreme’). I tucked them in with some recycled bubble wrap with the aim of hopefully giving them a bit more protection versus wind chill and a wee bit more night time insulation.
A check of my plot found the plastic intact – over the holidays it had blown off and I’d had to fix it. Thankfully, some kind soul from the Edible Garden Project had bundled up the plastic and weighed it down with rocks – which I then used to secure the plastic. A little grass clipping and pulling the plastic over gaps and it will be good for another while. I had intended, originally, to put my sweet pea canes up by now but decided against it as I’d like to keep the soil warm until it’s time for the sweet peas to go into the ground.
*Not the first seeds I’ve sown this year, however! That honour goes to some Petrocosmea seeds (P. cryptica x P. ‘Fluffernutter’) which were sown a few days before.
We were assigned our plots, an area of approximately 2 by 6.5m by lots drawn from a bucket. Mine is Plot 19. On a sunny afternoon in early October I claimed it, grabbing a few photos for posterity:
Overflowing with Lathyrus, Cosmos, Alyssum and the flowering heads of some cauliflowers, it didn’t take too long to clear and was an enjoyable task in the late summer sun – especially after having mostly been trapped in classrooms up until that point. Unfortunately, though, some critters had to be evicted to the nearby hedge:
The next task was double digging – the first metre of the bed only so as not to ruin the delicate soil, but enough to get the technique. The soil at the plots is fairly sandy, making it quite easy to work with. This area will be encompassed by the proscribed vegetable section of our plots which will include lettuce (Latuca sativa ‘Reine des Glaces’), broad beans (Vicia fabia ‘Aquadulce’), mangetout peas (Pisum sativum ‘Bijou’), beetroot (Beta vulgaris ‘Albino’) and onions (Allium cepa ‘Sturon’). The type of plants were proscribed but the varieties were not – all of them are ones which I’ve grown previously and have performed well in the changeable Scottish weather.
Weeding and edge maintenance were the main concerns until late in the season, when frost finally tipped us from dreary autumn to properly frosty winter. During the holidays, I paid a little visit to Plot 19 to tuck it in for the winter. It’s my hope that the layers of plastic will insulate it a little and warm the soil up sufficiently to plant a little earlier than might be usual in Scotland. It was a toss-up between black plastic, which warms and suppresses weeds, and clear which warms a little better but does not suppress weeds. In the end I opted for black to combat weed problems – last year was a very mild winter and if we have another like it, then weeds would be up in force quite quickly. The black fabric should cause them to waste their energy trying to grow up to the sun.
Normally I might have waited until later in the season to cover it up, especially if I wanted to let frosts break up the soil, but my soil is already at a fairly fine tilth due to trying to level it out.