My wife Laura and I have been working our allotment plot since beginning of 2008. I thought I should share my experiences with the Permies community - any thoughts / comments / ideas would be appreciated.
Instead of attaching photos, I'm posting links (see also bottom of this post) to pages from my wife's blog - the blog is in Italian, but the photos should speak for themselves, or so I hope.
- Resources on site: communal water tanks fed from the mains, and water from our own water butt, which collects rain water from the shed roof (surface c. 6 sqm). Horse manure mixed with stable bedding (c. 20% manure, 40% straw, 20% hay, 20% wood shavings - I found this an excellent mix for mulching and sheet composting); this is brought to our allotments several times a year from nearby stables. And plenty of woodchips, from local tree surgeons.
- Cultivation: we dug the plot over a couple of times in the first 2 years. After that, we have not cultivated the soil except for superficial raking before sowing. We have created permanent, slightly raised beds separated by a network of narrow paths. Beds are permanently mulched with 5-15 cm of straw and/or stable bedding. Footpaths are covered with woodchip. So the beds are largely undisturbed and never trodden on. Picture here: http://ortolistico.wordpress.com/2012/03/25/design-tecniche-di-coltivazione-e-colture-1/p1030610-2/
- Other permanent features: a Mediterranean herb garden; and a large, L-shaped mound, with patches of nettles, perennial herbs and flowers, functioning as a wildlife haven
- Perennial plants: 8 fruittrees (5 of these already productive); a fairly large (10m long) strip of raspberries, several blackberry bushes (brambles), a patch of 9-10 blackcurrant bushes, several beds of strawberries, and many, many perennial herbs and flowers. Annuals: you name it, we have it (well, almost)
- Problems & pests: Lack of space! - we maximise the use of the plot (narrow paths, close planting, etc.); it can feel very cramped at times. Frosts can hit us as late as May. Slugs. Pigeons, magpies and parrakeets (yes, parrakeets) - small fruits such as cherries will disappear if not protected. Foxes occasionally dig holes in our veg beds or on the footpaths (probably looking for worms). In spring mice may eat freshly sown seeds. Tomatoes are difficult to grow as the area gets hit by blight almost every year. And finally: the neighbour's fast-growing willow tree, which casts an ever larger shadow onto one of my best beds
- Results / harvests: this is our first year when we try to quantify the total yield from our plot. I hope to be back with some firm figures. At any rate, from May to Ocober, we have a constant supply of fruit (I estimate some 30-35 kg over the whole growing season), leaf vegetables (a huge salad bowl almost every day), french beans & runner beans (a few kilos per week), roots and tubers (15-30 kg of potatoes, depending on how large an area we want to squander on them), and squashes & dry beans for winter (variable quantity) ... among other things
Tyler Ludens wrote:That's a lot of space! It looks beautiful.
300sqm is plenty of space if all you want is to grow vegetables for own use, and perhaps fruit as well. But I wanted a mini-wildlife sanctuary as well (and even a mini-pond, but had to give up on that idea eventually). The wild patch has been extremely successful, so much so that it would probably take over the whole plot if I let it have its way. Even with weekly trimming of the nettles and brambles, at times I feel they want to squeeze us out...