When faced with an overgrown allotment and not know what to do first, as the song goes: “Let’s start at the very beginning. A very good place to start.”
I finally moved to Emsworth at the end of the day on Friday 20th April after my Buyer’s solicitors took things right up to the wire on completion day.
I met the lady I am caretaking the allotment for on Sunday and started work in earnest on Tuesday. The plot is the one in the left hand corner of the photo with the apple blossom tree. You can see how overgrown it is. It certainly stands out from the others – but not for long.
I know she said her previous helper hadn’t worked on it for while but I wasn’t expecting it to be so overgrown! However, we all know how quickly weeds and grass take hold so it may not have been left that long.
There are five raised beds, and the rest of it is broken up with chipped bark paths, so I decided to break up the work and deal with one segment at a time. My first day was dedicated to clearing one bed, with excellent soil, so that I can start to plant a few veggies. I was very firm with myself and set two hours and tried very hard not to get side tracked doing other things on the plot. It’s amazing what catches your eye when doing one job and before you know it you’ve wandered off to another part to start clearing that patch. You have then done a little bit of this and a little bit of that, walking away at the end of the day looking back and seeing nothing tangible.
There are a lot of hidden gems, with strawberries running everywhere, an apple tree, which I am told has cooking apples, and lots of lovely currant bushes of various types. I will have to start jam making!
What made me chuckle was the ‘shed’. Another allotment holder told me that they all clubbed together with bits and pieces to make this shed, which now sadly has almost collapsed. I did chuckle at the blue ‘Fire door keep shut’ sign.
Now I’m retired, I need some structure in my life so a couple of hours a day will give me something to focus on. Also whilst the plot needs to be returned into working order that may well be enough hard work for the time being. I am on the waiting list for a permanent plot of my own so must be sure not to put in so much effort only to find in a year or two the owner decides to relinquish the plot all together. I suppose that is the risk of caretaking. Meanwhile it is exciting to have an allotment to work on and I’ve always enjoyed a challenge. I have decided to keep one half of the allotment tidy and concentrate on the other half growing vegetables and flowers in the raised beds.
Today (Day 2) I went back, after the torrential rain this morning, with a strimmer and cleared the front of the plot. Someone said to me to follow the National Trust idea of always making sure the first 18″ of a border tidy and weed free as that is what most people will see initially. Good thinking. There appears to be a trough around the plot giving it a sunken effect, and unfortunately it also acts like a moat, so this afternoon it was rather wet around the edges.
My job tomorrow (Thursday) is to tidy up this blackcurrant which has grown wild. Friday I will be back in my daughter’s garden to move some rose bushes to make a new border.
Who needs to pay for exercise classes with an allotment and a garden to work in!!