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First look at Winter Damage

Posted By: 23/02/2011 08:44:00

This week I ventured around the allotments to inspect the damage and pace out my plans for this year.

As with every year, my plans continue to change on a weekly basis and I have become better at producing flexible plans. This year my plan is to grow a lot of the crops under a black polythene mulch, to reduce the amount of work needed with weeding, but also to help keep the moisture in the soil (There will be drain holes to let water in). That part of my plan will not change, but the location of each of the crops is still in the air, as three of the allotments are 'virgin' soil I don't need to worry about crop rotation yet. So I won't even attempt to give you my planting plans yet as they are bound to change on the day but I will keep you posted.

One of the first crops to go in will be the Broad Beans and Peas. Last year I over wintered them and had great success with the early crops, but this year as a comparison I'm going to sow them in early spring. The main problem I will have when the crops ripen is the black fly infestation on the Broad Beans, but I think I can live with it for one year. Also this year I'm going to try lots of sweet peas. I know I should have sown them last year, but I'm going to cheat and buy them in ready to go straight outside in Spring. I would have grown them myself, honest, but my greenhouse is on it's last legs and I can't afford to heat it. So I'll let someone else do it for me and then take the credit for the beautiful blooms. Shh! don't tell anyone.

This week is the final installment of the sheep story as far as Stan and his four siblings are concerned. If you have been reading for a while you'll know all about Stan the 'Devil' sheep and how they eat all the grass and fattened up last year. You'll also know they went to slaughter late last year. Well when they went, Steve and myself decided to keep the sheepskins and to tan them ourselves. This proved easier to do on paper than in real life, but we think we have now perfected the method and this week all five of the skins are now indoors being used as throws on seats of lying on the ground as rugs. We are going to write down the tanning process we used and put it on the web site as the majority of other processes we read about where far too complex, or just plane bad for the environment. It's a big responsibility to keep animals for eating, and we felt that by using as much of them as possible we where respecting the animal as much as possible.

This year we are planning to have more sheep, and some pigs too. Steve already has the experience with pigs, but for me it will be a big learning curve.

Got to go as it's snowing again and the chickens think the sky is falling.

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