Apparently allotments are a little like hen’s teeth.
When we moved to our current house my wife and I had the idea of getting an allotment to grow our own food. We had visions of warm summer evenings, butterflies flitting about as we gently pulled a solitary weed from our abundant beds of fruit and vegetables. I imagined a year long supply of delicious tasty home grown produce. I imagined becoming Tom to my wife, Kate’s Barbara…
3 years later we received a letter from the council, a plot had become vacant, we could have it if we wished. I telephoned the contact on the letter to confirm things. Maybe I should have been slightly wary when he casually mentioned that “it’s been left a while and if you’d like we can provide a skip for you?”
This is what we eventually started paying rent for
Initially I felt pretty disheartened. Where do you start with this kind of mess?
We wandered through during the winter to find gas bottles, glass, broken chairs, dead rats and other surprises. At some point somebody tried to set fire to part of it.
This spring, I bought a strimmer and cut back most of the weeds. Then the strimmer was stolen.
My wife and I found the remnants of a small raised bed, dug it and planted some potatoes.
I left things for a few months and then went back to see where I could continue. The plot was even more overgrown than before!!
I bought another strimmer, second hand. It worked for about 30 minutes then broke.
So then I went low tech. On Amazon I saw a pair of weed whackers for about £10. Imagine a long, fairly blunt metal blade with a wooden handle – did I mention low tech?
The following weekend I hacked and slashed my way trough the undergrowth until my newly emerging blisters forced me to stop on arrival at the overgrown potato bed. They were still growing!
Now I had potatoes and blisters.
This weekend, I returned again. I cut away more weeds, dug another bed and covered a third with weed suppressant membrane to stop the blighters coming back up again.
And as I weeded the spuds, I noticed our first crop that I could take home to my wife. A number of poppies had seeded themselves into the bed.
It’s funny, as soon as I began to see some impact from my efforts, I was spurred on to work harder. Just seeing something, even if that something was a wild seeded weed, that I could show for my efforts, gave me the impetus to keep going.
I needed to find these poppies. I needed to bring them home.
I’m a rubbish gardener with a weedy allotment. But things can only get better on from here.