Sunday, 18 September 2011

Begin at the beginning.

I've had my allotment for about 6 months now. It has certainly been hard, back breaking work but also very satisfying - especially now that I'm getting regular produce. I've progressed much further than I thought I would. I'm keeping this blog partly for my own records, but also in the hope that it will encourage other allotment newbies.

It all started at the end of March 2011.

I couldn't believe my luck, when after a year on the waiting list I received a letter saying that my time had come. Enclosed with it was a map with all the vacant plots highlighted in pink. All I had to do was choose which one I wanted. So I rushed down after work, map in hand and roamed the site looking at the 33 vacant plots.

Oh, which one to choose? I really wanted the other half of the one I have as it has a large greenhouse and shed - we are only allowed half plots at the moment because of the size of the waiting list. But it had already been nabbed by the time I rang the following morning. So I said that I would have the adjoining one 'Are you sure?' asked the allotment officer. I said yes -  though I got a gut wrenching feeling, why was she asking? What was wrong with the one I'd chosen?

I tried to remember back to the previous evening. It was a sunny spring evening, a Sunday, so there were plenty of smiling, cheerful allotmenteers around, a friendly bunch. All the plots were covered in weeds, but I didn't remember any that were particularly bad. I shook off my apprehension and went down with a camera the following day so that I could devise a plan of action while I awaited the tenancy agreement.


This is what I was greeted with.

Not so much an allotment as a shrubbery. Lots of hebes, dwarf (and not so dwarf) conifers, brambles, ash and oak saplings and other assorted shrubs. What had I taken on? I was obviously wearing rose tinted glasses when I decided this was the plot for me.

So, I made a plan of jobs to do. It went like this: chop down hebes, chop down dwarf conifers, chop down saplings and just for some variation I added dig up brambles, dig up couch grass, dig up horses tail and dig up ground elder.

I started one section at a time. The plot is about 9 - 10 m wide and about 20m long so I sectioned it of into 4m sections to give me 4 veg beds and a final bed for soft fruit and space for a shed and bench, should I ever have time to sit down.
By the end of April I'd got this far
That's one bed plus all the conifers/hebes in the next section reduced to stumps.

By the end of May:

That's potatoes in the first bed and the next section de stumped and  de weeded

By the end of June:

THe second bed was planted up with tomatoes, courgettes, cucumbers and beetroots.

And so on until we come to September:

Brassicas overwintering in bed 3 and

Bed 4 started, green manure sprouting in the background.

And this is the chap responsible for making this miracle happen; my trusty mattock

Without this bad boy the job of getting rid of all those shrubs would have been alot harder. I must add that I'm only 5ft 1 and not exceptionally strong, but I am stubborn and determined to make this plot productive. If I can do it, anyone can.