So it seemed to me that it was about time I wrote about my allotment. After spending months aggrevating my friends on Facebook with endless photos of vegetables, fruit and views of my plot – my belated apologies to you all!
In April we took over our plot in an allotment site just around the corner from home. It came with an enormous greenhouse (actually 2 regular sized greenhouses joined together) and a good sized shed. As for plants we were fortunate to inherit two rhubarb plants, two pear trees, an apple tree, three gooseberry bushes, a raised bed of strawberries and three rows of field beans.
Over the next few weeks, I painted the shed, cleaned the greenhouse and planted about a hundred weight of potatoes. Having never seen a potato plant before I had a few weeks where I couldn’t weed part of the plot as I wasn’t sure what were weeds or potatoes! Once they started to come up, I planted anything which looked interesting, cabbage, lettuce, cauliflower, broccoli, courgettes, runner beans, French beans, marrows, squash, bell peppers aubergines, cherry tomatoes, leeks, sprouts, garlic, onions, parsnips, raspberries, beetroot…. You get the idea!
Having never successfully grown anything before, taking on the allotment, whilst hugely exciting, was rather terrifying! The other allotment members were so welcoming and are walking encyclopaedias for my unending idiot questions such as, ‘What do potato plants look like?’, ‘When do you dig up your potatoes?’ and ‘Why is there straw on my strawberry bed?’.
After finishing my degree in December and moving to Crewe in February, I took several months out and dedicated them to growing everything I could in the allotment. I would go to the allotment almost every morning to water the greenhouse, do a bit of weeding and (inevitably) spend inordinate amounts of time drinking tea and eating biscuits with the other members. I call it ‘pre-retirement’, it was bliss!
In spending so much time on the site, we managed to halve our weekly food bills. We have carefully stored our potatoes, chopped up and frozen beans and fruit. Each evening we have potatoes and three different types of vegetables. We broke even in August after the initial outlay of the plot subs and buying the greenhouse and shed.
In September one of the allotment holders decided to give up two of his plots and I saw an opportunity to expand our growing space! The new plot, running perpendicular to our first plot (making a T-shape) came with a chicken coop and three chickens! Quickly named Lottie, Masie and Doris, these three Warrens were joined the next day by two Black Rock hens, Maggie and Peggie! I have since painted the coops and with the help of fellow chicken enthusiasts, modified it to make the coops more comfy for them. The girls are easy to look after and are incredibly spoilt (meal worms, sunflower seeds and split corn). But they produce incredibly tasty eggs! We are rapidly becoming experts in making three egg omelettes….
Today I spent time on the new plot making a bed next to the coop to grow chicken food for next year e.g. kale. The new plot is entirely overgrown and has so much rubbish on it that it is going to take a long time to clear it ready for spring. The ground is very uneven and hard so it looks like I know where I am planting next years potato crop! Potatoes I have learnt, are good for loosening the ground and for providing the soil with nutrients.
Next week target is to clear another section of the new plot – with my husband away/recovering from an extended work trip, it looks like it will just be me! I will just save some of the most difficult bits of digging for him to do when he next comes down…. Haha!