Two years ago I was allocated one tenth of a field just outside the town where I live which was overgrown with weeds, waterlogged (at the time – there had been floods!) and a complete mess. A local environmental group were really instrumental in getting the Town Council to find more space for allotments (as there was a long long waiting list for the only available ite) and they succeeded. So in October 2009 a field was found and rented and after a winter spent clearing the field, ploughing (thanks to a very kind farmer), laying drains, rotavating, digging and taking out vast quantities of rocks and rubbish (the field was rocky anyway and used to dump waste material from the nearby bypass) it’s amazing what a lot of hard work, wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow full of horse manure, home made compost and quite a lot of rain can achieve! 2010 was a planting year really – spuds to break up the soil and putting in plants things like raspberry bushes, strawberry plants and rhubarb. And lots of weeding. Lots and lots of weeding. And just a few things to nibble on!
But now it Is all paying off and my allotment is now (in its second year) finally providing more than enough vegetables and fruits – and as ever – its give away time! I don’t use any pesticides or weedkillers and try and I grow everything organically – and here’s a tip – its amazing what you can find on Freecycle – the old scaffolding plants for my raised beds, a roll of chicken wire for my compost bins and a vanfull of sand to improve the soli were all free! And my builder friend Darren (guitarist with The Grip) helped me go skip raiding (with permission!) for old wooden flagstone crates which make perfect compost bins (and suggested the pun for the headline here)! He gets paid in veggies for his voluntary work!
And now its just great to have home grown courgettes, cabbages, lettuces, rhubarb, potatoes and runner beans all available fresh daily – along with the last of the peas and broad
beans where the crop is just ending now. Still to go – onions, celery, chard, pumpkins and more cabbages and NEXT year some lovely looking asparagus, which sadly I can’t touch this year as I need to wait whilst the root system strengthens. Also on the menu – if you leave courgettes for too long they basically turn into marrows! Now sadly gone (and eaten!) are the strawberries and gooseberries, with just a few rasberries left now this year – but with newly planted blackberry bushes looking like they will be productive too! I even put in some sunflowers I was given (thanks Jo!) which are now enormous and buzzing with bumble bees.
Its been amazing to see the transformation of a field into allotment gardens – and not without problems I have to admit – but now its great to reap the harvest!