What fantastic weather for allotments. The mixture of sunshine and showers is making everything grow and slowly but surely the space is filling up again. We are planting out seedlings now and starting with later crops either in pots or straight into the soil. It will be none stop now throughout the summer. We have made six vegetable beds on the allotment and follow a five bed rotation system with one left for flowers in between. We also have two large fruit beds and two raised strawberry planters made out of old pallets. The concept of rotating your crops is pretty well known by most people but there are all sorts of ways of doing this and every book I’ve bought suggests different ways. I went on a vegetable growing course at Stillingfleet Lodge Nurseries last year which I would recommend to anyone wanting to grow more veg, their next course is on the 5th October http://www.stillingfleetlodgenurseries.co.uk/ . The people who gave the course are self sufficient with their smallholding near York. They open their garden twice a year under the yellow book scheme and I definitely fancy a visit. They were so knowledgeable but also very down to earth and basically don’t fuss with anything fancy that is hard to grow, which increased my confidence no end. The whole basis of bed rotation is to stop the spread of disease as planting the same kind of plant in the same place year after year means that any disease relevant to that plant is likely to multiply and eventually ruin your crop. The benefit of a five bed rather than a three bed rotation system basically means there is a longer time between planting the same crop in that bed again. Also when you rotate crops you treat them differently and the crop following needs to benefit from the crop that was in there the year before e.g. brassicas like lime adding to the soil as they prefer alkaline conditions whereas potatoes prefer lots of manure and an acid soil so potatoes don’t follow brassicas. It is far more complicated than that though and I find that in some beds you seem to run out of space very quickly and in others you’re not sure what to put in, so I do have to return to the books to see what crops I can put where. As for the girls unfortunately poor old scabbers has gone down hill again this week and is back on the antibiotics. The poor girl is still weak from the last attack so is struggling. I have come to the conclusion that she always gets poorly after she has had a long time out of the run on the grass. The other girls never suffer but I wonder as she is an ex bat whether she is not able to cope with the rich grass. Anyway if she pulls through again I’m going to stop letting her out with the others until she is back up to full strength again just to give her a fighting chance. She won’t like it but I’ve got to try.