One of the first things I did when we moved to a village was to sign up for an allotment. I’ve got dreams of an idyllic oasis of calm amongst my home-grown flowers, fruit and veg. I want to create a beautiful place I can cycle to on my Pashley bicycle. I found I couldn’t cycle off road on my Pashley as she’s just too heavy. However she looks pretty and is built for carrying home grown produce in her big basket.
I’d like a shed on my allotment which I can sit outside on a balmy sunny evening amongst pots of herbs and brightly coloured geraniums with a glass of wine relaxing on a deckchair. I’ll enjoy sketching the fruits of my labour too.
I’m now the proud owner of Plot 16B, which has cost me the vast sum of £2.50 rent a year! My first job this month has been to assess the site. I’d chosen this one as I was informed that it had been worked in the last year, had been well manured and although overgrown the weeds were mainly annuals and not perennials, so should be easily brought back to life.
My first visit was a bit daunting. I couldn’t see the edge of my plot and didn’t quite know where to start. However I could see there was potential. The previous occupant had left a few fruit bushes behind. There were quite a few raspberry canes with ripe fruit and what appeared to be a gooseberry bush. There was also a delapidated cold frame filled with an assortment of rubbish.
I wasn’t sure if the broken cold-frame was rescuable or whether it was in the right location. However I’ll be able to use the wire netting and the drain pipe and there’s a nifty fire grate which might be useful for building a bonfire.
Plot 16B faces North. In the South West side of the plot was a Christmas tree and an overgrown gooseberry bush entwined with weeds and grass. We are not meant to grow trees so the Christmas tree had to go. The gooseberry bush may be rescuable so I cut it right back hoping to rejuvenate it.
The South East corner of my plot is rather overgrown with raspberry canes. It looks like there is a mixture of Summer and Autumn fruiting raspberries and there were a few fruit lingering on before the first frosts. I’d like to keep the raspberries, but get them under control. They’re no longer in neat rows and are spreading out over too much of my plot. I can see that I’ll have a good fruit area and will move my Uncle’s old rhubarb, strawberries and currants to join the raspberries and gooseberry already there.
The area at the Southern end of my plot might be a grass path bordering a piece of communal fallow land. However it rather looked like I needed to hire Ross Poldark with his sythe to deal with the overgrown couch grass which was creeping into the fruit area.
Sadly Ross Poldark was not available! However I have made some lovely friends on the allotments. Octogenarian, Lew, rents several plots including one to the right of my 16B. He was more than happy to help me out and get me started. He might not own a sythe, but he does have a nifty rotavator! He felt it was ok to rotavate most of my ground as it contained mainly annual weeds. I dug out the dandelions and other weeds which needed digging first. This part didn’t have couch grass. Whilst I started on the fruit area Lew mowed my weeds..
I’m quite fond of the impressive tall yellow spikes of Great Mullein flowers. However I’m not sure I wanted this one in the middle of my allotment so it had to go. However at the North East corner is a clump of comfrey. It’s half on my plot and half next door. The comfrey can stay as I can make a liquid feed with the leaves.
The next visit I made to 16B I found Lew had not only mowed but also rotavated my main growing area. What a difference!
Mean while I had set to on the fruit area. I don’t mind digging up couch grass. in fact I find it quite satisfying doing battle with nature. Will I win or will nature have it’s way?!
However I found the part in front of the broken cold-frame extremely hard work. I stuck my fork in and hit … carpet! Not exactly a goldmine. There was layer upon layer of carpet. It had obviously been put down to surpress the weeds. However the couch grass had taken over so another carpet layer had been put on top. Digging up carpet was hard work as the dirt on top was very heavy. However another allotment owner set to work and gave me a hand. Derrick arrived just at the right time. I had been getting a bit despondant about my carpet pile. With Derrick’s help we got it all up quite quickly. I went home mulling over how I was going to get rid of piles of dirty, heavy rain sodden carpet.
I didn’t need to worry… over night a mystery carpet fairy appeared and whisked the carpet away! In fact I found Lew proudly stoking his bonfire. My carpet had disappeared in a puff of smoke together with a lot of the enormous pile of dried couch grass I’d pulled up. Three cheers for Lew! Not only has Lew got me off to a cracking start in my first month down on Plot 16B Patsy Smiles Flowers, but he has also provided me with a lovely crop of potatoes for dinner!
Octogenarian Lew has given me a wonderful start to my new allotment venture. However his potato heart is reserved for his new lady friend!
Do join me down on my Plot next month to see how I progress…