Making progress

One of the many passers-by commented, as I toiled on the allotment today, that I was a ‘brave lass’. I said I thought I was either brave or stupid, at which point he conceded it was probably stupidity. There’s a lot to do, and it shows. That said, I only got the allotment two weeks ago, and already you can see some stuff happening:

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OK, it’s not the best before and after shot because a) The ‘after’ part is not yet ready and b) The way I angled the last photo misses out the nice bit I spend a lot of the weekend creating, which is the fruit corner:

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It also misses out the strawberry patch, so you’ll just have to take my word for it: it’s looking awesome. Or at least acceptable. The fruit patch looks quite nice and civilised, anyway. I planted the loganberry plant (third from left, towards the middle) today, and I hope it’ll be happier there than in a container on my balcony.

The upside of having so much to do is that it makes things a bit more interesting, in a way. I suppose if all I had to do was dig, I’d get bored of it after about an hour, but with so many tasks ahead of me, I can dig for an hour, then sort out a raised bed, rack over the strawberry patch, venture into the Forbidden Half of the allotment and speculate on what’s lying beneath all the weeds (I strongly suspect there’s an entire shed there), etc. Or, in this case, make friends with yet another allotment neighbour. This one was kind enough to give me potatoes and radishes, and says he may have leeks for me at some point. It’s so nice how friendly people are. Nobody thinks that I can’t do it, which is good. People acknowledge that it’s a lot of work ahead, but I seem to get a lot of points just for trying.

This allotment neighbour told me that many years ago, the entire allotment site used to be a pig farm, and that when they abandoned it, they set fire to it, meaning that while all the wood burned, the glass, of which there was a lot, simply smashed. This would explain why there’s so very much glass all over everybody’s allotment. I was thinking it seemed like far too much, even if the previous owner of my allotment had smashed up his entire greenhouse.

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My meals are becoming a BIT more home-grown. I made a pie with some of the potatoes I unearthed on the allotment, added home-grown mustard and cress to the salad, and made a mojito with a cucumber from the balcony garden. OK, it’s not quite self-sufficiency, but as I reflected as I was digging today, that’s never really been my goal. Obviously I love eating stuff I’ve grown, but the main driving force behind these weekends getting covered in dirt, along with my complete insanity, is just the process of doing some hard work, then looking back on what you’ve done and feeling happy about it.

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I’ve been neglecting the balcony garden SLIGHTLY – it’s times like this when I do wonder if I’ve taken too much on, especially as I’ve been fortunate for the last couple of weekends in that I’ve had nothing to do but garden, but in the future, I might have to, y’know, do stuff other than garden. But I did a couple of hours in it today. A main task is deciding what should stay on the balcony, and what should be moved over. I’m thinking of moving the melon over, because it’s got no hope of growing on the balcony. I’m not sure there’s much point in moving the tomatoes or aubergines over at this stage.

One thing I’ve got to make a start on is composting. I’ve marked out an area on the Forbidden Half of the allotment that I think would be a decent place to put said heap (there’s nothing else there, it’s a fairly shaded area, it’s far from where I envisage the seating area will be, etc). I now just don’t know how to prepare said heap. Do compost heaps even need preparing? Do I just start dumping my coffee grounds and other assorted kitchen waste there? I feel that I should do something to the base of where the heap will be before adding to it – dig it over and put down wooden planks, maybe? I can find plenty of composting advice online, but nothing that actually matches up with what I want to know.

Another of my priorities is to sort out a shed, or at least some kind of storage system for the tools. I’m not sure whether to cave in and buy a large plastic storage chest, or hold out on the off-chance that an allotment neighbour has a shed going spare, which could happen. I did briefly consider buying and building a Nissen hut, but I think that was an idle fantasy. Either way, I think I’ll have to wait till next month before actually paying money to do anything. It’s easy to fall into the trap of buying ALL the allotment things at once when you’re starting out, but I don’t think my bank account would be happy about it. Mind you, if I run out of money entirely, I’ve got enough potatoes to last the rest of the month.

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