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Harvests of veg on my allotment going down each year

I went over to no dig quite a long time ago on my allotment.  For the past 3 years I have the performance of the plot going down and down.  My brassicas don't grow to the size they used to and give small vegetables, beetroot are small, chard and spinach are slower to get going but do eventually perform ok.  Beans are ok but don't compare to the gluts I used to get.  I used to do well with veg growing for years, but now something is not right.  Following Charles Dowding I add a top dressing of fertility every year.  On some patches I grow green manure, cut it down when it begins to flower, leave it on the top of the soil and cover with plastic.  On other patches I spread well rotted cow manure in small amounts, then cover with plastic.  Perhaps I am not adding enough or the right kind of top dressing.  Another thought that occurs to me is that maybe I have been adding too much fertility to the soil and this is bringing about chemical changes in the balance of the soil.  Any ideas?


  • fidgetbonesfidgetbones Posts: 17,441
    My crops for the last two years have been pathetic.  Last year they got too hot, beans didn't pollinate, not enough water. This year so much water the slugs and snails have been eating everything in sight.
    Still onwards and upwards. I have some japanese onions and some elephant garlic to plant, and the second sowing of kale seems to have escaped the slugs since I started shoving them in to a bottle with some salt.
    Theres always next year.
  • I don't use no dig but my crops have been poor last year with all the heat and this year with all the rain.
  • FireFire Posts: 18,131
    edited 24 October
    I recommend having a look at the RED gardens project - a deep analysis of veg growing techniques in a market garden context. Bruce runs seven styles of gardens for trials and experiments, in Ireland. Each of the seven is 100 square metres with a mix of veg in each. From each of the gardens he yields around 5kg per square metre per year.  About 500kg per garden per year - over three tonnes of food a year; equivalent to 22 tonnes per acre.

    Have a look at the "No Dig" playlist. Bruce has had a hard time incorporating enough fertility into his soils and has recorded his efforts closely.

  • Allotment BoyAllotment Boy Posts: 6,556
    It's tricky,  any intensive growing system needs a lot of input of both feed and water. As already mentioned the recent erratic weather due (probably) to climate change is making things more difficult.  Are you certain the cow manure you are using is really well rotted. I  say this as I had a load of cow Muck last winter, which appeared to be quite well rotted and I applied plenty to  different areas. Several of my crops stalled in the early part of the year but grew very  well later.  I  had put this down to the unseasonal summer we had but I have wondered since if the cow Muck was too strong and the plants simply couldn't make use of the nutrients there. 
    Sorry this  doesn't really answer your question. My yields overall have not dropped but me and a lot of others I know have had difficulties with crops,  they used to grow very successfully,  particularly in the last two years.
    AB Still learning

  • nick615nick615 Posts: 1,500
    I'm not a science geek, but I do reasonably well (by my standards) applying small quantities of chicken manure pellets per plant or in each row, rather than trying to improve a whole plot.  If things like beans and peas seem a bit lazy, I assume the soil has got a bit acidic (usually via the cow muck I've used) and I scatter a liberal quantity of granulated lime around them and this seems to do the trick.
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