Posts tagged ‘allotments’

July 11, 2012

Allotment Gardening: A Fresh Start

I wrote last week about the struggle to keep our allotment going and my decision to ask my Mum to be our partner. This week was our first session on the site together.

The first thing Mum said once she’d agreed to help us was that we had to tidy the shed. Although my inner teenager rolled her eyes and prepared to stomp around about it, my outer adult agreed with her. This photo, taken once we’d got everything out of the shed, proves she was right. Never argue with my mother!

Note the really useful contents: A ride on car, our Christmas tree stand, an England flag and a roll of old carpet…

Clearing out the shed feels like a winter job really, but the weather this year has been so troublesome, and today felt distinctly autumnal anyway. Plus, the after photo shows that it’s actually tidy now and will be much more practical. No more wrestling with a tangle of netting every time I want to take a fork out of the shed! There is also now quite a lot of unused space in it that we can put to good use later on.

Once the shed had been sorted out, we spent a bit of time digging over an empty patch of the plot that should have been my flower cutting patch but has gone horribly wrong and then pulling up the onions. These have been in the ground a bit too long and so are enormous. I just hope they don’t rot.

After an hour’s worth of work we set off to the garden centre to pick up a few things and make plans for the autumn – although it feels early to be thinking of the next season, the summer has been a bit of a washout. Rather than focus on what has gone wrong, I prefer to look forward to what’s next. This feels like a bit of a fresh start for us all, and I’m more enthusiastic about the promise of the allotment than I have been for ages. Clearing out the shed, although in itself quite a dull job, felt like an announcement that we’re serious about it once again. Working with Mum was really companionable, because we get on so well and it was easy to see how much difference an extra pair of hands working with us regularly will make.

I’m excited to see what we will manage to produce over the next year. Needless to say my plans for the place have expanded in an enthusiastic fashion!

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January 11, 2012

The Year of the Dahlia.

So, I ¬†realise that 2012 is going to be the year in which lots of things happen. The London Olympics, the end of the world (if you believe the long-dead Mayans) and more importantly than that, my first trip to Rome. Did I mention that I’m going to Rome? I did? Sorry. I’ll stop. For a while, anyway.

2012 is also the year in which I am going to plant more dahlias on the allotment. Lots and lots of dahlias. Which, incidentally, are pronounced like Roald Dahl, rather than ‘day-lia’ because they’re named after a Swedish botanist who also had the name Dahl.

I still pronounce them ‘day-lia’ because that’s how my Grandma says it, and I know better than to argue with her. She is, after all, my dahlia inspiration. Every year, Grandma enters the local show with her flowers and every year she comes away with prizes. Given that she’s a superb knitter too, she’s like the family version of Kirstie Allsopp. This year, although I won’t be entering any shows, I want to be able to go to my allotment and pick great big dramatically bold and beautiful bunches of flowers for my house.

The cutting bed last year.

The lovely dahlias have suffered in the past for being exactly that – a bit too bold and bright, especially those with pompom or spider-like shapes too. Like 1980’s style, they went out of fashion when everyone suddenly decided that minimalism was chic and that bright and blowsy was just a bit common. However, those of us who like a bit of colour never wavered in our love for them. Now, thankfully, they’re back and in a big way.

The main place I look every year at dahlia tubers is the beautiful and inspiring¬†Sarah Raven catalogue. The variety of types, sizes and colours available there is second to none. If this goes anything like my vegetable seed buying from there turns out every year, I am going to struggle to narrow it down to a few varieties and will end up ordering half the catalogue and then spending the rest of the year frantically trying to grow everything. The good thing about the dahlias though, is that they will not end up in seed trays all over the house, like my vegetables…