After all the drama surrounding the big fire on Cranleigh Avenue I had completely forgotten I had intended to download my new pics on our allotment so it’s down to earth with a bump.
(Please note however there is no longer a page of undates on this site but the allotment has its own site https://wordpress.com/posts/forloveofmyallotment.wordpress.com
The worst hurdle of course is the dreadful waiting list to get one in the first place. But when you finally get offered one (or have dug up your lawn in desperation) try and get one that is not a field with a leaky pond, as mine once was. Remember too age is no barrier to getting the show on the road.
My mother got her’s at the age of 72 and decided it would be a ‘no dig one’. She knew about growing things having lived for part of her life in a cottage with a third of an acre – in a frost pocket, while I have only ever had a small garden.
1. When she and I got the first an allotment in South London we marked out beds with planks of wood holding them down on their sides with long tent pegs, cheap raised beds really We then covered some with black plastic, to prevent weeds while we thought about what to plant.
My mother now sadly departed, my partner and I moved to the south coast and have an on the Weald, we invested in the black weed prevention sheets and this year got some raised beds in a sale. But right from the start we made paths and covered them with bark. Brilliant!
2. My mother’s rule was only to grow what we liked to eat and my partner and I do that too. It is all too easy to get carried away with other allotment holders, gardening programmes and magazines. We also avoid potatoes, however much we like them as too much digging.
We quickly established a strawberry bed, grew tall graceful globe artichokes because they spread and we love eating them (boil for 10 mins if big, cool, peel off leaves and dip in oil and vinegar). They also look truly dramatic nearly all year round.
Rhubarb (I lie about growing only what we like to eat, because we don’t actually like it much), but it is a family tradition to plant a root from a plant an ancient aunt had grown. We call it Aunt Con’s rhubarb and the leaves are amazing to look at and you can always give the newly grown stems away.
My mother and I always grew both summer and autumn raspberries, then there was always a mouthful of lovely ruby red fruits to cheer us along. My partner and I did the same, now of course they remind me of her!
3. A shed is essential in my view. The family bought and put up a tiny a shed on my mother’s allotment. However the saga about our second-hand one on the Weald is on an old post somewhere. New allotment holders best get one sorted as soon as they can afford it. Saves lugging tools, somewhere to sit and sort out seeds and things.
When she moved to live to be near me in London she had a small garden, but her allotment became her salvation. She absolutely loved it.
One of the first things I did after her death and we moved down here was to put my name on the allotment waiting list. Rottingdean’s allotments were a lot nearer to our home was just far too hilly. None of those on the flatter part of the land ever became available so we were told But three years later – eureka! – we got one on The Weald, a bit of a treck but worth it, a small ‘starter plot’ they call it , but it will see me out
Oh and by the way one of my grandsons gave me a subscription to ‘Grow Your Own’ magazine last year. This comes with loads of free seeds, sometimes a few too many, but the mag is down to earth and one can always share the seeds with others.
The lady congratulating me on being inspiring said she had joint problems so was a bit wary of overdoing it. I may as well mention that I three discs collapse in my back many moons ago (puppeteers back I called it) and even had a ‘disability disc’ for several years. It was a long time ago and a very boring story, but even now I really do have to pace myself or I can get laid up for a day or two even now! So go for easy maintenance and be wary of actually relying on friends however dear!
Lastly keep your plot under control every which way and you won’t be crying into soggy onions, and it will be a total joy.