Herbs and poisons

I’ve been reading up probably more than is psychologically healthy about companion planting and herbs. I think the danger with herbs is that you get sucked into this world of folklore and can end up sounding slightly like a witch whenever you talk about them and what they cure and what they kill. Of course, some herbs do both, which is why you have to be a bit careful, I’m told.

I dug an area for the ‘herb wheel‘, which is going to contain dill, basil, chives, coriander, mint, hyssop, and rosemary. I tried to pick a relatively sane mix of herbs that I’d actually use on a semi-regular basis when cooking, as I don’t think there’s much sense in picking more obscure herbs if I’m never going to use them. I did use my VegSeed voucher, though, and ordered a few more unusual ones, though – burnet and rue and lovage and wormwood, which I’m planning to plant away from the main ‘herb wheel area’. The plan is to put wormwood around the outer fence of the allotment, which is where a lot of people walk their dogs, so it will act as an animal repellant. I know it can get out of control, though, so I might have to think about that one a bit.

The wheel itself was more difficult to source, as you might expect, I suppose. I was hoping for a massive old cart wheel, but the one I’ve ordered online is only 60cm across, which isn’t uselessly small, just a little smaller than I was hoping for. My budget didn’t allow for much bigger, though.

s-l140

I’m also digging a row by the raised beds in which I’ll be planting marigolds, which apparently are loved by all allotmenteers for their pest-distraction properties. Companion planting seems to be another minefield, though. Like, sage is good for cabbage and carrots, but it dislikes cucumbers. Basil’s good for tomatoes, but doesn’t do well near rue. It’s like a logic puzzle, trying to work everything out.

The real work this weekend, though, was just digging:

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I had help, so can’t claim any more than 35% of the credit, but it’s done a lot for my allotmenteering self-esteem. I’m at the point where slightly more of the allotment is dug over than is weeds, which helps.

I’d said, not all that long ago, that I was going to ignore the left-hand side of the allotment and just concentrate on the right, where the raised beds are. Well, I’ve gone back on it already, kind of. I was reading up on green manure, which sounds horrible if you don’t know what it is. It’s not an animal that’s eaten the wrong thing altogether. It’s stuff you plant that you can leave for a few months – or over the winter – and they develop very shallow roots so are easy to dig up and then plough back into the soil for added nutrients and diggability. Crucially, they also suppress weeds while breaking up the soil, so the idea is that by the spring, I’ll be able to merrily dig over the area and start planting.

I got myself online and ordered field beans and forage peas and red clover, among other things. Thing is, even to plant the seeds requires me to dig over the areas in the first place, which is a pain, but a necessary one.

It’s coming on though. It’s been under a month, and look!

winning

Eeeeee, I’ll get there in the end.

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