Monday, 4 August 2008

Sunday 3rd August 2008

So much for getting into the garden yesterday – it rained ALL day!

Today I managed it for an hour, and in the afternoon went to the allotment. I share it with my neighbours, Robyn and Simon.

Oh, we were so excited when we got it three years ago. Drew plans, imagined spending afternoons in a little shed boiling up the sweet corn and new potatoes grown by our increasingly green fingers. We contemplated the tinkering about among the cabbages and beans, whilst indulging ourselves in a little weeding - all helping to nurture the bounty we would bring home.

Yeah, right.

First year: Dug over hideous mare’s tale and couch grass. Rotavated it and sliced roots of said mares tale and couch grass into thousands of pieces, making thousands of new plants, which thrived in hot gorgeous summer.

Trimmed around the old raspberry canes lovingly, planted some sweet corn and leeks. Looked at our enormous allotment and said we would dig a few feet at a time, (well actually, Simon did most of the digging. I had better mention that otherwise I might find a spade through my window) as we had all the time in the world. We watered our allotment with pride and affection and scattered the seeds of carrots and beetroot in the freshly tilled earth.

We went away for a couple of week’s holiday.
We came back to our allotment covered in mare’s tale and couch grass and no sign of our beautiful baby plants.

Second Year: Dug over hideous mare’s tale and couch grass. Rotavated it and sliced roots of said mare’s tale and couch grass into thousands of pieces. Didn’t care.

Couldn’t understand why none of the other allotments had these weeds. Maybe (only slight paranoia here) they shoved it all onto ours.

Simon dug half way down our allotment. We had all the time in the world.

Actually, no we didn’t. We were all working full time, (I was filming in Devon for Country file) Robyn was about to have some twins, it was raining ALL the time, our leeks bolted, the cabbage white caterpillars had eaten our cabbages, the beetroot, just wasn’t beetroot and – this is the real killer – the lovingly tendered, yet old raspberry canes had all been blown over and uprooted.

But we did have a fabulous year for parsnips. And, no one else on any of the other allotments, had as many as us! Hah!

Our runner beans were exceptional too – all that rain, and I made about twenty jars of bean pickle.

However, Robyn and Simon and I decided that we didn’t want to do it the next year. But none of us was brave enough to tell the other. So, we kept quiet and consequently we had the allotment for another bloody year!

Third Year: Actually, I think we may finally be getting things right now. Simon bought a very romantic Christmas prezzie for Robyn – some black sheeting to prevent weeds. So it’s been laid down and the plants, carefully planted in cut out holes, by Robyn.

I’ve planted and brought on a lot of seeds – although the purple sprouting broccoli has gone down the neglected route – and we are finally reaping what we have sown.

Today, we picked beans, peas, enormous patty pan squashes, carrots and potatoes. Our sweetcorn, always an embarrassing failure is looking completely fabulous, our leeks haven’t bolted as we planted them later.

My back prevents me from too much digging (honest!), so I stood by while Robyn dug the potatoes. It’s like digging for gold, and you can risk over exciting yourself when you find one, today was no exception. We had a little potato dance every time one popped out of the soil. A few were the subject of decapitation (can you decapitate a potato?) as the spade went through them – but as I said to Robyn, they come ready chipped!

Honestly, there is so much wonderful food on the allotment; I think we must be doing something right. It doesn’t feel quite as much of a chore - and it’s always nice to go to the pub on the way back.

But,I’m giving up my share this year – I think Robyn and Simon are going to carry on – now they have the sexy black sheeting!

I shall extend my vegetable patch instead. Much easier!

Recipe for Allotment soup.
Anything you can find – shove it in! - Available soon.