The weather has turned for the worse, as the thermometer drops and morning frosts become the regular way to start a day.
On the plot, ‘Pooh Corner’ lies abandoned and manure-free. So I have to ask myself, ‘Should I cover my plot or leave it until spring?’
Across the land, empty allotment beds are finding themselves protected under a layer of tarpaulin to keep out the worst of the winter weather and prevent valuable nutrients leaching away. It’s a tried and tested method that’s benefitted gardeners for years. Nevertheless, I’ve always been reluctant, it’s something I’ve never done. Every year there’s always been a good supply of manure. So after primary cultivation during the autumn, I cover my unused plots in manure and let nature work it into the ground over the next few months. Come spring, with a secondary cultivation, my soil is teeming with fattened worms, and is primed and eager to go.
Another reason I’m reluctant to unroll the tarpaulin is that part of my autumn ritual is interwoven with my train of thought, and I like nature to be involved in this process. Strange as it may sound, I feel the extra nutrients from the manure along with winter’s harsh touch is Mother Nature’s way of blessing my little garden of Eden. Without it, I’ll anger the organic Gods, and my crops will be doomed to fail. I need this in my gardening calendar.
When I first took on the plot nearly three years ago, it hadn’t been touched in years. The only thing they had done was to put a large sheet of tarpaulin over it. Uncovering it, I was faced with several large ant infestations, deep tap root weeds and slug warfare.
Of course three years on, the allotment is very different. However, ants are a big problem and I really don’t want to encourage them back.
I could put my hands in my own pocket and pay for a delivery of manure, but the problem is finding somewhere to put it. As my plot is at the back of the allotment, there’s no road access, and even if I was lucky enough to have the space, with just a whiff of manure in the air, my mound of joy would be desimated by the old boys and their bottomless wheelbarrows within minutes. These vultures stop at nothing!
So for now, I’ll ride the odds and not do anything. I reckon I can still leave it a few more weeks before I have to make a decision. Hopefully by then, there might be a manure delivery. If not, I may have to re-think my options.