Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Just me and the pigeons

After having wondered out loud last week whether impending parenthood might make keeping the allotment going a bit of mission, this week brought the answer: it'll be fine! In less than a couple of hours of doing some actual work I managed to dig over and weed two full patches, rake up and dispose of a bunch of the straw that had sat, along with the manure it came with, on top of the soil all winter and even harvest some of the bits of last year's veg we had missed/deliberately left in the ground for just such an occasion.

The path up to the plot
The reason for this - and the simple reason that makes this admittedly small allotment so easy to maintain - is that the soil is just gloriously light. Despite some recent heavy rain making things damp underfoot, turning the tilth over was very manageable. It used to be an enormous chore doing this on the clay and clag of our old Nunsmoor plot. Here in Benwell, by comparison, it is a breeze.

Kasia is beyond the point at which donning walking boots and staggering up the hill to the plot sounds like a fun time, so I had only a circling flock of racing pigeons for company on what was a glorious early spring afternoon. There's something very comforting about the noise they make as they sweep endlessly overhead in concentric circles, as if controlled by some massive invisible Spirograph. There was a gorgeous lick of heat in the sun.

I picked some cavolo nero and chard from the plants that had survivied the winter, and lifted the last celeriac and beetroot. The celeriac was all turned into purée, some of which went with the butter-roast chicken we had for Sunday lunch and the rest as an additional white layer in a vegetable lasagna. It was delicious both times. Once you've gotten rid of all the dirt off it, you don't get an awful lot of celeriac back for the effort that goes into growing it, but the heady/earthy smell as you lift it from the ground is perhaps worth it.

We still need to figure out what we want to grow this year - not the time for experimentation, perhaps- but it was reassuring to be reminded how much you can get done in a small amount of time on this plot. I'm now looking forward to, rather than just worrying about, doing it.


  1. We are in the clay and clag brigade so any digging is on hold.

    1. My previous self empathises with you!


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