Monday, 19 January 2015
My allotment challenge
Lest you be tempted to sign up for your own plot as part of your New Year New Me campaign, let me share a few home truths with you. A standard 10-pole plot is a lot of work. Never mind what they say on the dire TV show The Big Allotment Challenge, it's not about having pea pods of uniform length or being able to weave a hat out of geraniums. It's about sticking at it in all weathers, digging, hoeing, strimming, tilling and weeding on your hands and knees; scratting around for free scraps of carpet and wood offcuts to make paths and barriers; mud; tenacious brambles and vicious nettles; the roof felt blowing off your shed; edging panels falling over; slugs and ants; birds and rabbits pinching your seedlings; and, if there are chickens on the site, rats - sometimes half-eaten rats. Still want a plot?
It's also about unwanted human visitors who sit in your shed smoking weed and drinking Stella and who leave their debris behind and occasionally work off with something; and people on the adjacent footpath who lob their empty bottles and crisp packets over the fence; and, most annoying of all, folk on neighbouring plots who don't keep their patch under control.
Now the good news. It's about getting back to basics and feeling close to nature; camaraderie, sharing knowledge and learning from your neighbours; the satisfaction of seeing something grow from a seed the size of a speck of dust into a sturdy eight-foot plant; and the rewards of tasty veg grown without chemicals, a full freezer and pots of homemade jams and pickles.