Small­hold­ers’ World

Country Smallholding - - Inside This Month - @small­hold­er­sUK UK Small­hold­ers are pro­filed week by week on twit­ter @Small­hold­er­sUK

This month: Bris­tol- based Lucy Cle­ments, who has grown pro­duce on an al­lot­ment for the last 14 years

My al­lot­ment site has a rain­wa­ter har­vest­ing sys­tem which uses a solar pow­ered pump to ex­tract wa­ter from a well, store it in tanks and then feed troughs by grav­ity. It is an ex­cel­lent sys­tem of ir­ri­ga­tion and wa­ter com­pa­nies may pro­vide fund­ing for sim­i­lar op­er­a­tions.

Any­one who hasn’t had ex­pe­ri­ence of an al­lot­ment may not re­alise what a huge amount of pro­duce can be pro­duced on a full-sized plot. I have four ap­ple trees and one plum tree that I grow along­side my flow­ers and veg­eta­bles. In­evitably their pres­ence re­sults in me do­ing a lot of pre­serv­ing and cider mak­ing.

This year I aimed to get more out of my plot in terms of flow­ers. I planted lots of dahlia and glad­i­oli and cre­ated a new area for a few peren­ni­als (cat­mint, geum and scabiosa), along with al­lot­ment clas­sics such as cal­en­dula and nas­tur­tium. By do­ing so I could guar­an­tee plenty of colour and bees.

My soft fruits came along a treat and I net­ted the straw­ber­ries, cur­rants and goose­ber­ries to pro­tect them from pests. I’ve had fun mak­ing straw­berry tarts.

Mulch, mulch, glo­ri­ous mulch is the best thing for a veg patch. I use a well-rot­ted bracken, ma­nure and bark­based or­ganic mulch which im­proves soil struc­ture, helps to sup­press weeds, feeds plants, is ben­e­fi­cial to soil or­gan­isms and helps to re­tain mois­ture. I try to keep a care­ful eye on the wa­ter­ing needs of each crop, not least dur­ing the re­cent heat­wave. Run­ner beans like a con­stant level of mois­ture. Peas and broad beans need ex­tra wa­ter when flow­er­ing to help pods to set, but French beans can tol­er­ate some dry­ness.

There is a lot of anec­do­tal ev­i­dence that marigolds de­ter pests be­cause of their strongly scented leaves. I have been giv­ing them a whirl this year and have also grown cal­en­dula for cour­gettes, nas­tur­tiums for bras­si­cas and spring onions for car­rots.

As for the fu­ture? I’m hop­ing to buy land soon and I’m look­ing in Wales. Ex­cit­ing times.

Fol­low Lucy @Lucy_Cle­ments_ Com­piled by Deb­bie Kings­ley who tweets from @SouthYeoFarm and set up @Small­hold­er­sUK

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