Sunday, 24 June 2012

In The Beginning...

Day 1; The view from the gate
So, it's been more or less a year since we got the call, got shown round a bunch of weed-stricken plots and made the choice of our own half-plot of smallholding heaven.  We'd been on the waiting list for about 9 months on a couple of different allotments.  The one we ended up on has a pleasantly unfussy, slightly ramshackle feel to it; a lot of the other plots didn't exactly look like Monty Don was at the helm which was reassuring, considering that, at least in the near future, neither would ours.

Day 1; Weedy McJungle

Potential.  That's a word that comes in handy when looking round houses full of other people's guff.  Similarly, it is a concept worth holding onto when looking round plots full of other people's weeds.  And guff.  Anyway, we eschewed the plot full of manky old carpet (even though it had an apple tree) and a couple of others that looked like they would need napalmed before anyone would be able to commence agriculture on them ever again and settled on our spot, doing our best not to look like complete novice idiots (which we were) in front of Kevin, who showed us round.
Digathon 2011
And so we began digging, and we kept digging and we enlisted some help digging from Kasia's folks, and then we did some more digging, and we dug up about a tonne of thistles, dandelions, bindweed and assorted other pestilence.

Roping in the relatives
Some dandelions have roots like trees, we never knew that before. We never knew what bindweed was before; we sure do now. That stuff can spring forth a whole git-fest of a plant that takes pleasure in throttling and winding round whatever else is growing, all from the tiniest filament of root left in the soil.  It's grim as hell, but you have to admire its tenacity.  Bit like Maggie Thatcher, or the T-1000

We started planting some stuff in the cleared plots.  Some knackered old seed spuds (this was June now) were requisitioned from the bargain-bin of a garden centre and in they went.  That felt good, like progress.  Some pea plants were kindly donated from plot-neighbours, we planted them out.

Progress #1
Progress #2
Weeds were cut back and we put some woodchip paths in, slowly bringing order to the chaos.  Other bits and bobs were planted; jerusalem artichokes, over-wintering onions, bulbs of garlic.  Purple-top turnips went in and grew like mad.  The spuds were hopelessly munched by treacherous gastropods; the turnips became our first viable harvest.

Things were beginning to take shape, but the first skirmishes of what would become running battles with slugs, snails and other harbingers of doom were fought; our peas took a hammering.  As winter drew in we (actually Kasia) sorted out our totally overgrown raspberry patch, getting rid of agricultural quantities of nettle and bindweed.

Big news: the guy who had the other side of our plot didn't ever turn up much, at least we never saw him, and was ejected from his plot.  We were asked if we knew anyone who would like to take it on, and yes we did.  Enter Toni Moran!  The shed that was on the other half of the plot, and had previously been off limits to us was now a shared resource.  Good times!

Me, and 4 tonnes of shite.  I'm on the right.
We ordered cow manure from a farmer that we saw on site.  I've never paid for shit before, but by all accounts we got a good deal.  I had no idea how much 4 tonnes would be, but we were informed that it was the standard amount that people get when they are ordering in a pile of shite, so fine.  We got to the allotment just in time to meet the tractor, which was worryingly big, as was the trailer it was attached to.  4 Tonnes of crap is, well, tonnes.  The farmer, being unable to maneuver his tractor any other way, just dumped it all on the track outside our plot.  It took about 4 hours for three of us to shift it all, which was quite long enough, thank you.

So winter hit, we planted broad beans, we still had onions and garlic in the ground, a smattering of leeks too, jerusalem artichokes provided a meal and some were re-buried, and we dug our manure into the soil.  We covered up all the patches with nothing planted in them, retired to our barracks and put the kettle on.  We had done ok.  We were ready for the new season!


  1. A fine start into horticultural heaven but prepare for much heartache with this beautiful summer

  2. You've done wonders! Keep going! There must be some rewards ahead (did that sound a bit despairing?)

  3. Thanks Anne! Hope your plot didn't bear too much of the brunt of yesterday's epic downpour!

  4. do you have any vehicles floating in the allotmenmt ?
    News yesterday looked pretty terrible

  5. Well I think you were given a remarkably good looking plot...yes it was weedy but has good paths and structure. Manure is a musy have for allotments and I am lucky enough to have a supply from my cousin who has pigs and brings it up on a regular basis for me, I don't have to pay him but i do give him produce from the plot and save veg parings to feed the pigs. I wholly believe in the barter system!!

    I think it's great you've decided to start a blog up. I started mine after having a plot for a year and people are so great with help and advice and I have learnt so much more than I would have from just reading a book!!

    Can't wait to see your next update!


All comments gratefully received. Sorry about the word verification thing, but I've started getting bombed by spam.

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