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The Alotment, Week 1 - 6 April 2020.

Now, I am by no means an expert gardener. Which is why I wanted to start blogging about my allotment, hopefully giving some inspiration and encouragement to any of you who are thinking about starting one your self. Maybe you're worried you don’t have the time, knowledge or cash to do so.

To the front left of the image is a pear tree in blosom in the background are perfectly manacured dug alotment beds

I first acquired my plot on 01 August 2018. The site is a few hundred yards from my house, and has 193 plots. Its the largest parish owned site where I live.

Occasionally on balmy summer evenings, I would spy that one of the gates was unlocked and take advantage of the opportunity to take a walk around. I would admire the different personalities each plot offered; the beautifully laid out and manicured beds saddled between ramshackle constructions, sheds made out of corrugated metal, and a greenhouse which definately had a former life as a conservatory. With each of their differences, they all existed together providing a community, a place of solitude, exercise, nourishment, and a purpose.

I’m sat here now, it’s fast approaching magic hour. The wind is light, enough to give me a chill on my arms and legs, but nothing too bothersome. A wood pigeon hoots as a crow dives, and a menagerie of other birds I wouldn’t want to try to identify offer their tune. In the distance, a siren blares and children play. Even with this rich soundscape it’s somewhat airily quiet for a sunny bank holiday Sunday - one of the many outcomes of COVID-19.

I have swapped my usual photographer for my partner, he’s no Thom Hobbs, but he has a good eye and is a lot more confident with a camera then I am. The only downside to having Joe and not Tom is I just have to smile and pretend to appreciate his terrible jokes. On the way down he scalded me for talking to a crow, ‘it’s crazy 19 of them have caused this virus’ the first time he told that joke it was lost on me, I had no idea crows were part of the corvid family. (Corvid, COVID, get it? I miss Thom…)

Pear Tree in blosom
The plot already had a well established pear tree

The first year of owning the plot I was juggling making the site growable, mostly by removing a lot of couch weed, along with a full-time job; a part-time business; socialising with friends and a lot of travel to London for both work and pleasure. My dad helped A LOT. As each week goes on, I’ll write more about different aspects of owning an allotment and that first year. For this week I want to focus on the greenhouse.

I have spent most of this week in the greenhouse, sowing seeds. I did my first round on Monday. I sow my seeds in plastic plant pots. I've never brought any purely for this purpose but I tend to store pots leftover from bedding or house plants and repurpose household items like yoghurt pots. I have seen a few people using biodegradable pots instead of plastic ones to grow their plants, honestly, they're not for me. I dislike single-use plastic and will try and avoid it where I can, but I plan on reusing my plastic pots year after year after year. I wouldn’t be able to do that with a compostable pot.

I'm going off on a tangent, let's get back to what seeds I planted on Monday:

  • Borlotti Beans

  • Basil

  • Lemon Balm

  • Honeywort

  • Radish

Other jobs on Monday included trimming the blackcurrant bushes and digging the patch that housed last years Borlotti Beans.

After a seed drop from Georgina Weston, From Soil and Seed (check out her Instagram, she’s doing a no-dig method on her allotment) I was there again on Thursday to sow:

  • Sweet Peas

  • Stocks

  • Morning Glory

  • Passionflower

  • Edame Soybean

  • Dwarf Bean

  • Butter Bean

  • Pea Douce Provincie

  • Runner Bean

I also soaked sweet pea and lentils seeds.

I pop down every day to take kitchen scraps and rabbit litter to be composted, and to water the seedlings.

The allotment came with a shed, but no greenhouse. A few weeks after I got the keys a family friend emailed my dad asking if he would like a greenhouse. A friend of a friend wanted to get rid of theirs and it was free to whoever would dismantle it. My dad already had two greenhouses at this point, but he knew I would make use of it. When he asked me where I would like the Greenhouse to go, I decided towards the back of the plot, near the fruit bushes. I started digging the earth, levelling it out and removing the couch grass, getting it ready for the foundations to be laid. A few weeks later my dad came to construct the greenhouse while I was at work, he picked a totally new spot and told me his idea was much better than mine. He was doing all the hard work so I couldn’t complain too much, and he was definitely right.

On Saturday, a day later than planned, I sowed the soaked Sweet Peas and lentils.

It's only been a week but both the Radishes and the Basil are starting to sprout.

Sunday my plan was to sow more seeds but I ran out of compost. I only got as far as a few aubergine seeds, so the cucumbers and tomatoes will have to wait a little longer. I’m aware I’m a bit behind on planting the tomatoes as March has quickly rolled into April. I’ll be ahead of the game by the time May is sprung upon us. I did spend a bit of the morning digging over where last years green beans were stationed, this year it’s where I plan on the courgettes being.

Tomorrow I have an order of beds to collect from B&Q, simple kit beds from. The agenda for next week will be:

  • Construct the Beds

  • Finish sowing seeds in the greenhouse

  • Draw a to-scale version of the plot

  • Plan where I will plant everything.

I’ll be in the phone to a local garden centre Monday to confirm delivery details for my order of a peat-free compost and topsoil bedding mix.

The world is a scary place right now, but I'm incredibly grateful that I am able to leave my house and go to my allotment. It's a space where I can escape when I need to take things slow and tend to the earth.

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