Tag Archives: People

Gifts That Keep On Giving

Before we launched onto this enterprise, I did a lot of reading in an attempt to understand, or at least begin to understand, just what we were getting into. One factor that was often discussed was money. In many respects you save money by not having to buy produce, through recycling materials in the most creative ways and, definitely in my case, saving money by not needing a gym membership. You also spend money on things like too many seeds, materials you just can’t find no matter how many skips you look in, and, if you’re anything like me, books.

However, there’s one financial aspect that was never discussed in any books; gift giving. I suppose it can’t be counted on or predicted in any way, as it depends so much on the kind of people we are surrounded by and by our own personalities. There may well be allotments out there where no one speaks to each other, everyone stuck in their own isolated world. I highly doubt it though, it just isn’t The Allotment Way.

One recent gift I recieved was through the Royal Horticultural Society’s Grow Your Own Campaign. As one of the first 10,000 supporters, I received a lovely parcel of seeds donated by Mr. Fothergill’s Seeds.  Very pleased with my gift of  sweetcorn ‘Swift’, spring onion ‘Ishikura’, summer squash ‘Sunburst’ and my favourite tomato ‘Sweet Million’.

Seeds from the RHS

A couple weeks ago our onion sets arrived in the post and I diligently headed to the plot to get them in the ground while the weather was still dry. I had allotted a full bed for them, but it quickly became apparent that I had far too many for the space I had. Every other square inch has already been reserved, so I faced the dilemma of what to do with them. It was about then our plot neighbour, Tom arrived. I offered them to him, as I couldn’t bear to see them go to waste. He was very pleased with them and naturally asked me how he should plant them.

This morning Scott and I got an early start at the plot. We were soon joined by Simon and his partner Alice. Poor Simon did his back in during the week, so wasn’t able to do much other than take Alice, who hadn’t seen the plot for a few months, on a tour of our work so far. Alice also arrived bearing a gift of some asparagus crowns from her mum. Leaving us with this to plant, I had to then work out where on earth to put them.

When I opened the box, I was amazed to find three different varieties and five crowns of each! I had thought of reducing the rhubarb patch down to half and planting asparagus. However, I had been thinking this would be something to do next year, after we had a chance to see how the rhubarb performed this year.  After much waffling, I ended up digging up two of the smallest rhubarb plants and dumping them into some plastic pots. I’ve rather haphazardly planted the asparagus, far too close together I’m sure, in an odd ‘L’ shape around the remaining rhubarb.

The new asparagus, erm, bed.

Once again Tom arrived on site just in time and my waste-not-want-not philosophy was allowed to remain intact. I admitted it wasn’t the best time to transplant them, but Tom was very happy to take them. He wanted to return these recent favours and offered some cauliflowers seedlings from his cold frame. As it’s been quite chilly lately, he said to just take them whenever I like. He also promised to bring some more seedlings from home for us to have. As someone who has really no space at home to start things, this was a most welcome gift.

Allotmentcation

This weekend I enjoyed an “allotmentcation.” I had a couple days of vacation that I needed to use up before April, so I gave myself a four day weekend. I have to admit, part of me would have liked to have spent those four days lying in front of the t.v. eating crisps and watching endless episodes of True Blood. Instead I ended up going to the allotment three out of those four days. Far more productive than filling my mouth and brain with junk. Enjoyable junk, but junk nonetheless.

I spent most of Friday there, just me and all the retirees. I was the youngest person there by a good forty years and boy, do they enjoy a good natter. I can carry on a good pointless conversation, but these people could chit chat for their country. It was a scorching day, so I didn’t mind any excuse to pause for a bit. The main topics of choice were the imminent hosepipe ban, which I can imagine will be a nightmare for those less able to carry water to their plots, and just how much money Plot 15 may have spent putting in those new raised beds.

Our plot neighbour, Simon proudly showed me his bumper asparagus bed and offered up suggestions for reviving my flagging sweet peas. Our newest neighbour, Tom, sweetly starts every conversation with, “now I don’t know what I’m doing, but…[insert question here]” We had a good tour of his freshly cleared plot and played the Name That Weed Game. When he asked me about what to do about Mare’s Tail, I replied, “try not to cry?”

A nice splash of colour on the plot.

I did manage to complete a rather major task. After a productive Friday afternoon of weeding, watering and digging, I felt it was time to wrap up and head home. I trundled up to the allotment site’s green waste bins, only to see that the council had brought another rubbish trailer. Now the last trailer showed up shortly after Christmas and was literally overflowing within days. Any time I had asked if another would be arriving, I was always told, “just keep and eye out for it, that’s all.” I saw that this one was already three-quarters full, just enough space for all the rubbish we had piled up. I was desperate to be rid of it, as it was occupying the space our new compost bins will go.I had arms of jelly, but I knew if I waited until Sunday, there would be no space left. With a big sigh, I headed back to our plot and spent the next two hours shifting rotten pallets, manky carpet and broken things up to the trailer. The trailer was ridiculously high sided, the lowest bit was about eye-level for me. Please note, I’m six foot tall. I managed okay, except for one rather massive chunk of rotting carpet, which managed to slither out of the trailer and onto my head.

On Sunday, Scott and Simon came and joined me. Poor Scott, he was suffering from the time change and got dragged out of bed at the ungodly hour of nine a.m. due to me bouncing about, eager to head back to the allotment. More digging, watering and weeding done, along with the main crop potatoes finally in the ground and of course, more chatting. We were given the heads up that tomato blight is a significant problem on the allotment site, which is a bit worrying given how many tomatoes I’m planning to grow. We also got lots of kind praise for our clearing and organisation of the plot. I’m hoping this is the sole nature of the chat about us, hopefully nothing about how much we spent on the shed or something…

Rhubarb looking good.

Today was a quick visit to drop off some bits I picked up at B&Q, which included a much needed watering can and a big bucket of pelleted chicken manure. I saw Tom carefully mulching and watering his newly planted broad beans, I commented that they were looking really good. He smiled, “Well, I don’t know what I’m doing, but…”