Monday, January 2, 2012

First day at the allotment

I don't know about you but after a little while the magic of Christmas has worn off and I'm trying hard not to throttle my family. This is when I need to get to the allotment. It's not just little old men in wooly jumpers and caps hiding in sheds. After a day of torrential rain on New Years Day I woke up to a gorgeous clear day today. Our four year old was given a couple of computer games for Christmas and has been obsessed with them. It took all sorts of bribes and threats to prise him away from the screen. He was the grumpiest boy in Britain as we got our layers and wellies on. Ten minutes outside, with a big smile on his face he announced, "I feel happy running in the sun".

I passed "A" who has the plot next to me on the way in. She said she'd overdone it; strained her back clearing out her compost heap. She mentioned the email the site secretary had sent out before Christmas. Sixteen pages of plans the council wants to implement. I haven't had time to read it yet.
"We're not going to be allowed to use hoses"
"Really?! There's no way we can water our plots with watering cans, that's how to do your back in". 
"I think that's what it said. I need to read it again".
I feel my blood boiling every time I hear about the council's plans for the allotments.

We'd been on the plot five minutes when I lost my temper with my boy who went stomping over my transplanted strawberries after I asked him not to.  My husband went back home to get a football. While he was gone my boy picked up the camera. Lately this has been a great way to keep him occupied. He took the photo of Colin the Crow and our dog.

I got to work pruning the brambles, or blackberries. They are a hybrid variety planted by the woman who owned the plot before me. We get huge, juicy fruits. It's a bit of a shambolic hedge but does work really well as a boundary, spreading in tangled loops up the side of the allotment. I cut the fruited branches back to the main stems, cut out all the dead wood and trimmed back the rest to a bud, thinking about which direction the bud would grow in. My camera battery ran out before I could take more detailed photos. It's not the conventional way to grow blackberries but I don't care, it works for me.

My husband came and took my son off to the playground. We're so lucky having it right next to the allotments.  It took quite a long time to cut back the brambles and was really hard work. I always end up with my hat, my hair, my arm caught in the vicious thorns and I have to carefully untangle myself, to pull away quickly could be lethal. I was thinking about the person who had helped themselves to my brambles in the summer. "A" had seen him but didn't know who he was. She thought I must have told someone they could help themselves. "No I didn't!" I told her. "If you see him again chase him off". I was a little irritated at the time. I often give things away but it's not nice to help yourself to someone else's crop without asking. My plot looks quite wild and brambles grow in the wild but that doesn't mean they're free. If anyone wants to steal my brambles they can bloody well prune them for me.

I sowed some oriental leaves under fleece in autumn and some of it has come up. I can't remember what it's called and couldn't read the lolly stick. I went home with a couple of beetroots, some brussels sprouts and my first proper harvest of purple sprouting broccoli. It was just starting to flower, I think I got there just in time. Tasted so delicious. Sometimes I get just one or two meals out of the small amount of veg I grow. It's worth it! My brussels were pretty disappointing but when I discovered a few perfectly formed ones I was delighted. There's nothing like growing, harvesting and cooking your own.


  1. Your son took some good pictures of your cute dog and Colin the crow. Glad you got the brambles trimmed. That is one job I hate ever so much. I'm hoping you'll get tons of berries and that guy won't come back. Not nice helping yourself at all to others things. Good luck in the allotment this year and Happy New Year to you! I look forward to hearing about how it all goes.

  2. I think you've got a budding photographer there, he's taken a great photo of Barney. We don't have any water on our site so all our watering is done from watering cans which have been filled from the water butts. It's quite hard work if there's lots of watering to be done, but I tend to let most plants fend for themselves and only water if absolutely necessary.

  3. The weather has been so awful here that I haven't had a chance to do any work at the allotment - so you have done well to be able to do a bit. I am like you in that I still get a thrill when I take a few home-grown veg home no matter how puny.

  4. Well done Lorna :) I haven't been up but to pick veggies but hope to get cracking in the next month or so. And what's this about no hose-pipes? Has your allotment committee been to petition the council yet?

  5. No hoses sounds very challenging!
    Bloody thieves! Hope karma gets him soon.
    You do indeed have a clever wee photographer! Gorgeous crow!
    I hear you on the family throttling front! That's where gardens really help isn't it! Must be all the oxygen or something... and the sweat.
    I also find gardening with kids really challenging! In fact our place is too dangerous to even let my youngest out of his buggy... I dream of a wee flat section most days!

  6. I was really impressed with the boy's pics too Tina.

    We have such bad drought here nothing would grow without the occasional soaking. I will have to set up some water butts for myself, which I've been thinking about doing anyway. Maybe could rig up an irrigation system with a hose with holes in?!

    Hope your weather improves soon Elaine. Growing your own makes you really appreciate what you've got for sure.

    I'm sure we will be up in arms if this is what they want to bring in. Most folks struggle with keeping up allotments as it is, I'm sure it will make matters worse.

    I find life in general with ONE kid challenging Rachael, lol

  7. Happy New Year Lorna! Good luck with your allotment in 2012, I look forward to reading about all of your exploits.

  8. Thanks Bertie. There will be plenty of exploits :)

  9. haha, yep, I must have been blimmin mental having 3!! I still wake up with cold sweats when I have realisations of what I have done! It really is a shame we can' compare notes over a wine in the garden!! X

  10. Ha, soon you will have them all trained up to be your little helpers. I'm thinking the Von Trapp children, but just the helping on the farm bit without the gruelling performing schedule around the world. I think I'll make it my new years resolution to enjoy myself a bit more, a glass of wine or two in the garden/allotment sounds perfect. :D

  11. We had a look up at the allotment on Christmas Day but with colds, family visits and the weather I haven't been up since. It has been so wet here, there isn't much I could do anyway, best to leave things for another month or so I think. I can't believe the council are going to stop you using hoses. Why make life more difficult for people? I know I couldn't manage my plot without a hose. I don't do a lot of watering but when I do it would take forever to water it by a can. It takes an hour and a half to give it a good soaking with the hose! Maybe if you all complain they might change their minds.

  12. Hi Wellywoman. I think once the council makes their minds up there's not a huge amount can be done, but I'm sure we will all try our best. I'm looking at all this rain we're having and a few buckets filled to the brim and wishing I had a huge water butt on my plot. Have to sort one out...

  13. Why would the council not allow hoses? Is there a water shortage in your area? Lots of water butts! think Bob Flowerdew, if you can bear it...
    Excellent photo of the dog. A budding David Bailey!

  14. Bob's great. So he uses lots of water butts?


I love to hear from you!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...