I went to the allotment today.
I haven’t been for at least three weeks. Maybe longer. January has been busy. I have been planting up my first design proposal. The client lives in North London so my daily trips across the river have taken up a lot of time. Not that I am in any way complaining. It has been a very enjoyable experience. I have learned things that I would do differently next time and lots that I wouldn’t. Just what you would want on your first professional assignment.
I acquired my allotment in 2012. The year of the London Olympics. I had put my name on the waiting list five and half years earlier so when an email plopped in my inbox saying I was nearing the top 100 on the list and was I still interested in a plot, it took me by surprise. I couldn’t even remember putting my name down. We had moved in the meantime and I had grown fruit and veg in my larger garden.
When the email arrived I asked my lovely man what he thought.
Should we take on an allotment? The garden was already quite a responsibility.
Would we have the time?
Should we get a half plot or full?
The answer to the questions was a tentative yes. We’ll look at the plots on offer but let’s just go for a half plot.
And so it was that a couple of months later I found myself tramping over a wet and muddy allotment site looking at plots that were available. It was a little ironic that the day we were viewing was so inclement as the previous year had been extremely dry. The site officer who was showing us around said that they had been desperate for rain and here it was. Cold and sheeting rain. If anything was going to put me off wanting a plot this was it.
The opposite occurred. I saw the plot I wanted almost instantly. A FULL plot. A rectangle of soil. No grass, paths, shed, poly tunnel or compost bin. There were two small apple trees and soil. It was near the entrance so not too far to lug compost and equipment and it still had a good view over south London. I thought everyone would want it. I was last to choose and no-one had taken plot 470. Half an hour later, paper work signed, first years rent paid it was mine.
I love it. The last six years have flown by. I have created luscious soil for fruit and veg to thrive. It has paths and beds, a shed, water butts and a compost bin but exactly where I want them.
My time there today was two hours of weeding and digging. But it will mean that when the weather warms and it is time to start planting, everything will be ready to go. All the time I was there I didn’t see another soul. Just how I like it. The quiet, solitude wonderful.
Hard work enjoyed knowing that the preparation makes the rest of the year easier. I even brought a haul of winter veg back with me. Leeks, parsnips (better for the cold weather) and some bulbs of fennel. Goodness knows what they will taste like but they look good.
Broad beans and garlic planted in the autumn are looking strong and healthy and Purple sprouting broccoli planted 10 months ago is starting to do its thing. Another week maybe and I will bring some home.
I was reluctant to go to the plot today. It was cold. I felt a bit tired and like I might be going down with something but when I got there I was seduced to stay longer than I had planned. I came home with more energy and a basket of produce.
As usual time well spent and worth the effort.