Plots and Plans - Down the Lottie- January 2022
Happy New Year! Since starting down the lottie back in July 20, though work started in earnest only in March last year, I've kept a lottie diary and picture journal. I've individually sent videos to my close mates and posted on the allotment group's page. I don't know if I will keep it up but I'd like to have a go at keeping a more organised journal of my story this year and what I am learning along the way - so Happy 2022 and here goes....... I hope the lessons I learned last year will be useful for fellow newbies and for my friends who have been following my journey - here is the update!
BTW the video update is at the end - so if you just want to see that please just scroll down.
I started sowing at home on the window sill in February last year.
The main lesson I learned here was not to use soggy cold compost. Having watched the January what to sow videos I now know to have the compost indoors to warm up so it doesn't shock the seeds and to use room temperature water when watering for the same reason!
I'd spent around 18 months or so researching gardening methods - No Dig and Pollyculture mainly, and it was a bit of a shock to realise that there was stuff I should be doing early on in the year. Generally my gardening year started when Gardener's World came back on the BBC. Gardening in my head didn't start till Monty and crew told me what to do. Now we have the benefits of YouTube! My previous blog gives advice on what can be sown in January from the experts I follow for any fellow first or second timers.
The next thing I wish I had done was to measure the plot and think about a longer term plan. When I started out I only imagined that I would grow 1/3 of the plot in the first year so it grew organically, figuratively and literally over the next 7 months, till I was using all the plot and way more of it than I ever expected using. I'd laid down 2 beds of cow manure in October (20) then left the plot till the following March. Seen here as the one covered with fleece and the one in the foreground. The next 3 up were laid down later in March.
What I am going to do differently this year is have a plan to work towards. I was waiting on the shed (now up) before I plotted plans so I could get the right measurements. Last year I planted in straight beds because that is what I saw everyone else doing. This year I'm going to have a go at key hole beds taking my inspiration from this video I found....
So here is the plan:
Also in measuring out the plot I just hadn't realised how long and thin it is, it feels much fatter when you are there. So this year my plan is for the lottie to gradually transition into this plan.
Another lesson learned was to pay more attention to how long things grow. I kinda knew the purple sprouting broccoli I was sowing in March wouldn't be eaten for another year, but in my more random polyculture planting how much there is still to harvest in December and how much that is in the ground now will still be harvesting through the 'hungry gap'. This is the time between March and June when the winter crops have finished and the new crops haven't started to harvest yet. By following my gardening gurus I am hopeful that I will still be feeding us through this season. Because I really mix plants up by planting in gaps, and I can't manage to sow in a straight line - I just rebel, then I haven't really had beds that don't have anything in. So all the 'putting things to bed' that I've watched and read about really haven't applied.
Where I find myself now is mulching in between the plants that are still growing. So far I've just done this on my main brassica bed as I'll wait and see what disappears on the rest of the plot when the frosts come, then will take on further mulching from there. What I'd like to pay more attention to next year is to plant with the harvest time in mind - which if I had considered time management guru Stephen Covey's 'start with the end in mind' that would have been a bit more helpful on reflection.
So to give you a view of what I'm transitioning from... here is a video from today. I just got my shed up a couple of weeks ago and am still very excited about it. Respite from the piddling rain and respite when needing a piddle.
I now finally have an outdoor seating and working on stuff area which I hadn't considered as I was populating the allotment - you need somewhere to sit and drink tea!!! So, friends here is the update - and any newbie lottiers I hope there are some things you find useful.
Happy lottie plotting and planting people.
Previous Blog link - What to sow in January