“An allotment, you, really?” Has been spoken in shock to me on more than a couple of occasions over the last few months. I’m not particularly green fingered and have even managed to kill a succulent, still not sure what exactly happened there! But on our journey to a more green life I have become more and more interested in organic, plastic free produce and it naturally led onto growing our own. It took a while for me to pluck up the courage to do a little local research on who and how to contact and to start the ball rolling on if getting an allotment would even be possible.
Luckily, our village has quite a few available plots, even after a little surge in uptake over the last couple of months. Brexit garden anyone? Dragging my Mum and Dad with me to have a look at what is available I leave feeling totally overwhelmed at the prospect of clearing a plot and getting started. I decide to just go for it and put my name down on a decent sized plot near the brook and in a sunny patch. My rent is only £10 for the year with a £10 deposit, which I’m not entirely sure is for. I’m hardly going to run off with the weeds and soil that I inherited.
Somewhere along the way of getting an allotment, an excitement starts to grow. Little buds weaving their way through my conscious daydreams, of sitting in the sun on a deckchair, in the peace and quiet surrounded by things I have actually managed to grow and nurture myself.
I start to trawl through second hand book shops for gardening books. Pinterest for ideas on what and how to grow and Instagram for lustworthy images of sheds, yes sheds! “What is happening to me?” I think to myself one evening where I’m busy drawing out a design for my plot. The kids are involved too, helping decide what fruit and vegetables they would like and excitedly shout out ideas to me.
Then begins the hard work. Clearing old carpet and layers away from the damp, dark earth. We manage to clear a tiny patch on our first attempt and it almost seems like this isn’t actually going to happen. Then some of the allotment neighbours turn up with cold beer and I decide I definitely will like it down here.
It’s around now that I decide to clear and plant a bit at a time. Working with the months to plant at the correct time. Digging the clay soil, or attempting to, makes the raised bed decision even easier, until I look into prices. Getting an allotment is meant to help save money in the long run, so paying out loads initially doesn’t sit right with me.
I’m fortunate that my Dad has been able to help and has so far constructed two raised beds for me using some of soil and some compost mixed in. We’ve decided to go for size 6ft by 4 ft.
I’m listening to the birdsong and nothing but the sounds of nature around, the brook gently meandering along in the background. It’s a beautiful spring afternoon and a big occasion as I’m planting the first vegetables in one of the raised bed. I’ve gone for white and red onions and plant up half of our first raised bed, Finlay collecting water from the stream to water the bulbs. “Will they grow?” he asks whilst sprinkling over the water. “I hope so!” I reply, before we head off to explore all around the allotment site.
There is a strange beauty in this place, even the plots discarded and neglected continue to grow. Finlay in particular loves it here, with the space to climb and explore. I can’t wait to paddle here with the kids in the summer and share the excitement with them of harvesting our own fruit and vegetables. I hope in time and with work our little plot will become a little quiet haven for us all.