With Valentine’s Day just round the corner, you would think this cold weather could chill even the warmest of hearts. Continue reading “Love Is In the Air”
Everyone is different and everyone approaches things differently, so on a small section of God’s green land, that’s divided and shared among the green-fingered community, it’s inevitable that tensions between tenants will arise on occasion. Whether it’s competitiveness over the best looking spuds, or ownership over the last shovel of free horse manure, we all like a good moan.
Up until early last year, the chap who rented the plot would maintain, prune and mow the surrounding grassland. We would always exchange pleasantries, comment on the weather and compliment each other’s hard work. He began building some decking, brought up a barbecue, and talked about spending summer evenings relaxing among the trees. Come autumn, the orchard would be bulging with fruit for the taking, it was a splendid sight, and followed by its pretty blossoms in spring, you couldn’t help but envy his orchard.
Unfortunately I haven’t seen him since spring last year, which meant, by autumn, his trees and bushes were teeming with fruit, and left to rot. Nevertheless, I did lighten the load by taking some of the fallen fruit. Right or wrong, I couldn’t bear the thought of it going to waste, it seemed criminal.
I had hoped to see him, as I know he still has the lease on the plot. I was looking forward to a friendly conversation where I could find out what’s going on, and see if he was going to make good.
But with no sign of him, I’m finding I’m losing precious time as I have to constantly cutback the excessive growth. I’ve also noticed, compared to last year, a lot more of my crops are suffering from bug attacks. Of course this could just be a coincidence, but part of me thinks these troublesome critters have been making their bug homes in the overgrown areas, and feasting on my goods in the small wee hours.. Grrr!
I’m not someone who tell tales, I want this resolved in a positive way but I wonder if the allotment secretary knows the situation? If the orchard is too much for him, I had briefly considered taking it on myself. The idea almost paralysed Agent Soph. ‘Nooooo! Not more produce to cook, pickle, freeze and bake!”
But when your allotment is surrounded by disused plots, you have to ask, should people be allowed to hold onto them? After all, with such high waiting lists, it seems rather self indulgent to have something for the sake of having it, and then not using it. Of course, personal and health issues do occur, so without a doubt, allowances should be made. But still.
For now, I hope the orchard man is fine and in good health, and that he soon makes a welcome return. Otherwise, I may suggest to the allotment secretary that something needs to be done with the autumn fruit.
Which brings me onto the next item on the agenda..
Weeding! Of all the tasks that need doing, this is the one job I have no enthusiasm for. I know, it has to be done. We spend months sowing seeds then nurturing the young plants, putting them into their final growing positions, watering them in, feeding them. We stand back and for a few precious days that newly planted vegetable bed looks like something out of the Chelsea Flower Show. Not a blemish in sight, just the promise of a plentiful bounty to come. Then it happens. Slowly at first, a cheeky shoot here, the odd thistle there. Hardly worth the effort of removing. But the moment you step out of the allotment and head blissfully home, the invasion commences; the freeloaders arrive en masse.
You return to your allotment a few days later to witness horrors. Garlic being overrun by groundsel, beetroot cowering in the shadow of an aggressive dandelion, and bindweed trying to do the sort of things to tomatoes that, well, no wonder they’re blushing. You know you can’t keep putting it off, it’s time to evict the lot.
I only have a limited time on the allotment each week, and I want to spend it doing the fun stuff: creating beanpole structures, planting Crown Prince squash, sprinkling seeds aplenty. This is the glamour of gardening that I read about in magazines and see on Gardeners World. No one ever told me about the dark side!
However, I did get the chance to do the fun stuff this weekend. I managed to get a lot of the plants out of the polytunnel and into their final positions on the plot. From sweetcorn to squashes and beetroot, plants are now filling my beds with colour and life. But the icing on the cake was constructing those poles and getting my beans in. Borlotti, Runner and French beans, all supported and reaching for the sky.
I also found time to plan ahead and plant up my autumn bed (I know, can’t believe I’m already looking that far ahead). Red cabbage, swede, leeks and two types of sprouts. As summer dwindles and supplies are running low I’m relying on these to carry me through to the new year.
As I wander around, taking it all in, it seems everything is racing to grow and produce. I remind myself that this is a wonderful time of the year, gooseberries, cucumbers, peas and the new planted sunflowers are all begging for my attention, showing off their wares, filling my head with visions of harvest.
But as the sun sets on another productive weekend and I shut the allotment gate to make my way home, something catches my eye. I almost don’t see it at first, but then I think I can hear a menacing laugh. A quick flicker of something green.. could that be bindweed?