“Sometimes the only super power you need is persistence”, observes the alien visiting our planet and trying to make sense of our frail, violent, mortal species of middling intelligence in Matt Haig’s excellent book, The Humans. The alien makes a lot of astute observations about us, and am thrilled to prove this particular one true: after more than two years of waiting, chasing, hunting down and persisting, I have finally got a share in a communal allotment in my neighbourhood!
I am sooooo excited about this. Not only does this give me opportunities to grow more veg, but it’s also so nice to be part of a community of dedicated growers – a bit like blogging, but in physical form. The allotments are a ten minute walk from my house, and this particular plot is well-managed by Roberto and the co-allotmenteers, with a good south-facing aspect in parts, and of course a few challenges in other parts, like the mature trees that are jealously protected here by the local authorities.
I have a little patch to start off with. It’s under an apple tree, but Roberto says we can prune this back. We’ve also got some communal projects like creating a giant potato bed that we will all have access to and will share the harvest. I was able to till my own patch and clear the weeds very quickly, the soil was lovely – clay with sand I think. So I already planted three broccoli plants which I started off from seed in July.
I’m right next to the greenhouse, which is very exciting indeed as I’ve never had the pleasure of a proper greenhouse before. OK, so one pane of glass is broken and needs replacing, but that can be dealt with. They’ve got sweet peppers, some salad crops and basil in there at the moment.
The shared plot occupies a large area – though I’m no good at estimating measurements, it’s got lots of different areas, including a natural woodland area, a pond, a large composting area with five bays, several sheds, water butts and an assortment of fruiting trees, including several apples, cherry trees, a plum, a fig and a quince. The pond has a blanket of duckweed, but contains about 80 frogs, I am told, which is good news for slug and snail control!
Behind a row of hops and next to a large bed of redcurrants is a picnic table, and there are plans to create a BBQ in this area too. I think this could quickly become my home from home.
On my first visit, I was told I could help myself to the apples growing on the tree by my patch, which I did, and will make an apple and blackberry pie this weekend. I also nibbled on some raspberries, and took some chard to add to a curry for dinner.
I’ll leave you with a few images of what makes allotments so quirky and interesting, the personal touches and the Robinson Crusoe make-do-and-mend mentality. I love Roberto’s shed, made with sticks and an old door.