With summer just around the corner, this was the weekend I planned to take everything I’ve been lovingly growing from seed in the polytunnel, and finally plant it all out into the allotment.
There was so much to do, from creating bean trellises to digging over beds. Every vegetable was moving into their new home and I wanted to make it a smooth and happy transition for both gardener and vegetable.
However, there was one thing I hadn’t taken into account: weeds. I already have several functioning beds brimming with garlic, brassicas, carrots and onions, and it would seem the weeds had setup home over the last few days and were thriving. Hmm, this was going to hamper my plans. ‘No matter,’ I thought, ‘add it to the jobs list, I can handle it!’
French Beans – Check!.. Runner Beans – Check!.. Squashes (5 varieties) – Check!.. Beetroot (3 varieties) – Check!.. Courgettes (3 varieties) – Check!.. Spring Onions – Check!.. Sweetcorn – Check!.. Sunflowers (4 varieties) – Check!
Just reading the list out was making me tired and I hadn’t even sunk my trowel into the soil. ‘Come on soldier move it! Time waits for no man’.
I quickly set about my tasks, digging, planting, watering, building, creating. I had a rhythm going, I was like a machine; unstoppable. The Terminator 3000 Allotment Model Edition, with built-in trowel and compost-dispenser. Ha! I’d like to see Alan Titchmarsh and his garden fairies take on this allotmenteer. ‘Fear me, mortals!’
Nevertheless, as the day stretched out into the afternoon, it hit me.. ‘I’m bloody knackered! The Great Chelsea Garden Challenge never showed this side of gardening did they? This allotment business is hard work!’
What started out to be a day’s work turned into two; every time I finished a job, two new jobs were added to the list.
Retreating to the shade of my shed, I took a moment to sit and watch my new friend, a little robin. As I tended a bed, he would join me, sitting on my trowel, just watching. He had no fear, no agenda, I think he was just happy to be in my company. So I rewarded his friendship by talking to him and naming him Jenson. And it was then that the penny dropped: gardening is something to enjoy and savour, it doesn’t matter what gets done or doesn’t get done, enjoy the moment and embrace what’s there.
So to all you gardeners, allotmenteers and soil-digging obsessives out there, I know what you’re going through, it’s like The Hare and Tortoise. We think of ourselves as the hare racing around trying to get things done, but maybe we should be more like our little shelled friend. He’s in no rush, he takes in the sights and sounds, enjoys the slower journey yet still crosses the line. He’s the real winner.