Monday, January 14, 2008

Looking forwards to spring.

It was sunny this morning so I was intending to go to the allotment. However by the time I did some chores, sorted out the dinner (we have a tight schedule on Mondays at teatime, so I depend on the microwave!) and got was raining. Even I'm not masochistic enough to take my creaky back out into a January drizzle to mess around with half frozen mud, so I did the next best thing...sorted out the seed box and revised the planting plan.

Now I've got allotment software and I can use spreadsheets after a fashion, but somehow they never work for me. What I've used for years is a big shallow plastic box with dividers, and the seed packets sorted out into "Plant Jan/Feb/March" etc at the start of the year. I only need to look into it to see what needs planted next, and once I've done this I either move the packet up into the next month, if I'll be sowing this particular variety again, or I'll put it at the very back, at the "Sown for year" divider. I've got seperate sections for salad crops that get sown over the whole growing season, plus a seperate "Propagator" section. Good airtight lid on the top and the box is both portable and mouseproof, if I forget to bring it home and leave it in Mouse Mansions, otherwise known as the allotment shed.

As for crop rotations, I'm sure there's a rinky-dink piece of software out there that would handle my raised bed system crop rotation beautifully, and perhaps even in 3-D time lapse photography. I have never heard of it though. So I use a series of venerable ring-bound notebooks, one for each year, and a pencil/ruler. I've got 26 raised beds, all four feet wide and ranging from fifteen feet long to six, and they are permenant so the basic layout does not change. I keep a master diagram of the allotment layout, and four times a year I mark up a copy with the current crops in position. So I can tell exactly what I've grown over the last eleven years in any particular bed. When I'm planning out the next year's planting plan, I really only need to check the previous 3-5 years of crops, of course, but it's interesting having a record.

All very low-tech, but it works for me. And I can mark things up while sitting on the wobbly old ex-park bench I have by the shed. It's quite nice to be able to sit in the sun (Sun? Whassthat???) and write up my notes. Oh yes, as a one-time scientist I always keep a notebook. One per year. It's nice to be able to remember what I did, whether it's some recycling....

...or what I grew that year...

...or what the kids do when they come up.

I'm looking forwards to spring.


SusieH said...

Sometimes lowtech is just right. I love the playmobil vignette - ah, to be relaxing in the sun. Give it a month or three!

rho said...

now that we have reclaimed our back yard we are planning a garden - any books you can recommend on raised bed planting - my preference - so I can hit hubster with all kinds of technical info on why that is better :D

crafty wee midden said...

ye cannae beat a ringbound notebook and pencil - ditto :)

gorgeous pictures.....thanks for that

Sian said...

What a lovely post...makes me long for spring too :)

natalie said...

There is Allotment Software???


Queen of the froggers said...

I always feel like going into spring mode as soon as the new year comes. The allotment looks so productive. Great for the kids.

Sam said...

Wow, what a beautiful garden! I have a big backyard I'm still scratching my head what to do with it, perhaps I'll plant a little low tech garden. ;) It looks like you get lots of yummies to eat!

Nic said...

Wow! I have real allotment envy at the moment, my friend has just sent me a load of photos of hers. So much space, so much mpre productive than the veggie plot at the end of my garden. Still at the moment, I don't think I have enough time for an allotment so I will have to make the most of the space I have.
I love your idea for planning what you need to plant each year, I might have to borrow that idea ;)
As for mice. Urgh don't talk about them; they have just invaded one of my greenhouses and I feel violated....that is my own space in the entire house and garden that I can (could) go and escape the world with a cuppa.
Heres to a good gardening year!

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