New soil, new problems and new successes

Read Time:1 Minute, 46 Second

The Guardian

Early-morning watering, watching as the new soil reveals its identity – shows its difference from previous years. What’s worked well so far this year. And less so.

The good news first. Everyone’s potatoes are a mass of lush green leaf and flowers. The same with the leaf crops. We have vibrant rows of chard. Sprawling Swiss, rainbow and red.

Our Italian chicory is thriving. As is the dill and coriander. The latter is grown from last year’s saved seed. The amaranth is speeding on – a mix of saved and Ukrainian seed from organicseeds.top. Self-sown fennel is also thriving. Purple orache, too.

Our flowers, though, are less happy. The Tagetes Ildkongen blooms and bushes seem smaller. Our ever-reliable nasturtiums and calendula are struggling. The first is also being battered by pigeons: a new problem for us.

The Jane Scotter sweet peas, too, are a little unhappy. Those that haven’t been attacked by birds are stunted. The same with the French beans. They came up fast then slowed down.

We have been blitzing with seaweed feed and other organic fertilisers but still have learning to do. The new soil is lacking some structure and crumb.

We are thinking about bringing in more manure, adding compost, maybe worms, and green manure. Mostly, though, we will watch and listen closely.

We’ll ask other growers around the site about what they think. We’ll learn what’s worked best elsewhere. At the moment, though, we will say a silent thanks to see the site reborn. There are new neighbours to know, new ideas to covet. I’m already envious of next door’s dahlias.

For now, I join the early-morning watering. I watch the baby wren flit through the plot. I sow. I grow. I’m grateful.

Allan Jenkins’s Plot 29 (4th Estate, £9.99) is out now. Order it for £8.49 from guardianbookshop.com

July 24, 2022 at 11:03AM Allan Jenkins

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