Every good allotment should have a resident toad. As well as eating slugs they add a bit of a character to the plot. Organic gardeners need to work hard at getting as many different kinds of wildlife as they can into their gardens. I've started by nailing up a bird box and hanging up some feeders. I want to attract the most useful birds; small, wild birds such as tits and tree sparrows that feed on insects . I think this bird box is actually the right size for a robin or a wag tail but I'll just have to wait and see.
The next step is a small pond. Any kind of water source is beneficial for bees and birds as well amphibians. It doesn't have to be enormous. I am going to use an old ceramic sink when I can find one. I'm ready to do some skip diving but so far I haven't seen one. Any Hackney residents who have one going spare, let me know. If I plant with a few aquatic plants it should attract some pond life on it's own. I have a gully at the back of my plot down which some foulish water trickles. I think it must be a tributary of the River Lee. I hope it may bring a few amphibians my way. My ideal allotment immigrants would be some newts.
Going wild also means letting things self seed. Raddicchio planted two years ago has self sown and made lacquered rosettes along a path. I've had dark, red thumb-sized salad leaves all winter and there is still plenty of rocket, dandelions and sorrel too.
I am about to order my seeds for this year. Does anyone have any favourite varieties to recommend? Its probably going to be the usual, loads of salad, a few different kinds of courgette, the odd tomato and some borlotti beans.
If you haven't already then now is the time to 'chit' your potatoes. I have four kinds (Charlotte, Kestral, Winston and Pink Fir Apple) lined up in egg boxes downstairs. When the ground has warmed up a little and some shoots have appeared I'll be planting them out in deep trenches lined with very rich compost.