We are getting to the end of the season, when everything winds down and we can take the time to look back on the last few months. For me, this year has been marked by a lot of changes but the one that has had the biggest impact has been getting an allotment.
I had thought a lot about it for a while and was on several waiting lists so, when I was offered this half-plot, I jumped at the chance and it’s the best thing I have done in a long time. It has brought me so much pleasure and satisfaction, I would never be without it again.
When I got he plot, at the end of June, the season was already well advanced and it was too late for most vegetables. I sowed a few beans and brought a couple of plants from home but it looked like I would spend my first season mainly weeding and tidying.
Obviously, I didn’t know the allotment mentality. On that first afternoon, a plot neighbour gave me some oca tubers and some sweet potato slips so I would have something to grow.
He also helped me build my first tunnel.
That’s one of the things I love most about allotment life: there is a camaraderie, a solidarity that has long disappeared from everyday life. People keep an eye on each other’s plots, we offer help without being asked, we chat and we share tips and sometimes produce. From time to time we also leave little gifts, a few plug plants here, a few beans or courgettes there…
When I planted my garlic and over-wintering onions I shared the bags and a few days later I found a fairly big bush, with bare roots, in front of the polytunnel. My neighbour was splitting her gooseberry plant and thought I would like to have one. I planted it with a blackberry that was gifted to me on the same day.
Another person wanted to get rid of a small apple tree that was in her way and said that I could have it as long as I dug it up.
I have discovered the joy of arriving very early in the morning, long before anyone else, when everything is peaceful and calm. Even when things don’t go well, like the day I found all my pumpkin seedling had been beheaded by hungry slugs, I always leave the site mentally refreshed.
Even with a late start I have managed to grow a lot of veg and not only does it taste a lot better than what you get from the supermarket but having planted it and seen it grow makes the difference even greater.
November means the end of the season. The days are shorter, making it impossible to go after work, and the mornings are definitely colder. There are a few things to be sowed now but it is mainly time for tidying and doing all the jobs that haven’t been done before.
I will miss the long hours spent on the allotment but I am already planning what I am going to grow next year!