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 changed...it 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.