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New Allotment!

After waiting for 7yrs its finally happened – I have been given an allotment! And could it be worse timing?! I’ve just started a Masters at university and am suffering from M.E.,  so taking on a new allotment is not really a wise thing to do. Nevertheless I just cannot wait another 7yrs so have said yes and received the keys in October.
I know I can’t do this alone, hubby and youngest sprog are not interested in allotmenting so I’ve teamed up with a couple of friends and hopefully this will make it easier and more manageable. The plot ultimately needs to be disabled friendly (for me and G’s wife) and child friendly (for L’s childcare business).
This is our story.

Admission of guilt and then some

This has nothing to do with allotments so if you have no interest other than gardening, feel free to bypass this post.

I just don’t know how to say it. 

I think I might be in trouble.

I know for certain I got caught speeding today. Not a little but a lot. I was entering a 50mph zone after a 70mph and, enjoying seeing my son from uni and talking about life and assignments, I just wasn’t focused on where I was.

Until I saw the policeman with the speed camera …… way too late.

I’m not excusing myself – there is no excuse and I feel awful, I’m usually really careful as I rely on my car for my wheelchair but I just didn’t think.

So now the wait begins for the letter – it will either give be me a fine or summons to court, and either one is likely to be honest. 

I can say it on here, noone ever looks at this page in the grand scheme, but honestly I just feel so ashamed – a word I hate. I have no defence, the signs are clear and I know both the limit and also that police speed trap there. Even worse I know that at one time someone lost their life there – since I was a child there have been flowers on that road.

I just hope that the letter comes quickly so I know what the penalty is and can face it.

No words – I just feel crap for being caught but crap that I did it knowing how precious my car is to me. And grateful – I may have been caught but thank God it was by a speed trap and not because of an accident.

Please, watch your speed.

A Large Bite

Too much to chew?

I’m feeling a little disheartened today to say the least. I knew when I took on the plot that timing was rubbish and there was a lot to do. Because of this, I asked for allotment buddies and two people said they were up for it. Well, it’s now April, very little has happened and every time I say I’m going to the plot, there are excuses and apologies. I really am starting to feel I’m on my own with this – which would be a disaster. I’m not saying they’re doing it on purpose but it is getting more than a little frustrating. I tried to explain to them when we first met up that I considered the plot to be equally ours, but there appears to be no impetus to them going on their own, it’s either with me or not at all, and so far even when I’m there it is still not at all.  No-one else I know has the slightest interest in an allotment and so it means that progress is snail like. Have I bitten off more than I can chew? I’ve waited so long to be given an allotment – about 7 years! I’d be very upset to have to give it up before I’ve even started.

I also got a shock from the doctors this week. It seems that I’m lacking a fair few essential nutrients, Vitamin D, iron and B12. Plus I was told my asthma was much worse than I had assumed … no wonder I’ve been feeling so crap. This makes working on the allotment even harder than it would normally be, ME plus anaemia of both kinds and not breathing properly, coupled with uni stress is not a happy combination. Still, I am determined that I will get this allotment plot up and running and productive. I’m not a quitter and I don’t plan to start now.

Oh well, on to today’s trip.

Today’s progress

I went today with a list of things to do – far too much for me to actually get done but it’s always good to have a plan. Current issues are obviously the weeds and the alarming rate of growth! I’m going to have to hire a strimmer or beg for someone to help me as the grass and weeds are now mid calf, making them too high to simply put plastic over. There are nettles, thistle, goosegrass (I think that’s what it’s called) and couch grass.

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Perhaps I can call it a wild garden instead of an allotment?!

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This is my plot, up to the dalek compost bin at the end. As you can see, it’s huge! And very green. There are some old beds which are growing the fastest and I really need to get them cleared asap so I can plant in them. You can also see some plastic down, the closest sheet was put straight on top of grass and weeds so it’s just a case of keeping it covered long enough to be able to dig them out after they have died or put high raised beds on them – whichever happens first. The furthest covered area is actually ready to dig over, I’m planning courgettes and pumpkins there – I have seed but not yet planted anything. I’m considering getting some plug plants later this year instead giving me more time to prepare the beds.

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Mushrooms growing under the weed suppressant covering
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Expert at growing thistles already

This was my view when I took of the weed suppressant membrane from the one bed I have been digging – a mushroomy mess! There were also the beginnings of thistles growing so instead of just turning it enough to plant into, I spent my time digging out roots and digging over the shrooms. Sigh – it took far longer and used more energy than I really had to do this. Even with the most minimalist digging (basically using my weight to turn it all over rather than actually digging per se) it took me forever. The result is that I only got half the bed planted.

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Tatties!

Whether I’ve planted them correctly or not, I’ve no idea! But I do know that potatoes will grow almost anywhere and with not a lot of effort to begin with so I’m sure it’ll be fine.There are 4 potatoes to a row and these are labelled earlies, harvest around June time apparently, but we’ll see. Goals are to get down there in the mornings to finish this particular bed and get the rest of those potatoes planted. I also bought a couple of potato bags from the allotment shop to bring home and plant in the garden.  Gotta love our little shop – buy one new potato bag and get a used one free, so 4 bags for about £1.80. Bargin. I don’t feel confident with how frequently they will need to be watered to leave them at the plot so backyard growing it is.

I also bought some more plastic to lay down, once I can get it strimmed or cut I’ll put it down, doesn’t even matter where at the moment. It’s just important to get it covered asap.

Apart from pulling up a few nettles that were getting high and making sure the plastic down was still covering everything ok, that’s really all I got done today.

The story so far (Part 2)

Planting, plans and last weeks achievments

We have plants!

Looking forward to planting it seems we have inherited a couple of freebies!

It might not look like much but we have been reliably informed, this is rhubarb. Unfortunately we dug it up and split it before we even knew what it was – thankfully rhubarb is incredibly hardy and it’s probably done it good to be split. As of Friday there are some definite rhubarb shaped leaves appearing so now I need to look at what you can do it other than a rhubarb crumble. Any suggestions gratefully received 😁

I was also told that these plants are strawberry and they are everywhere in the plot. The advice is to dig them up and move them to where you want them.

Our local Lidls got their seeds in and we may have got a little carried away, whether we’ll manage to plant all these this year has yet to be seen, but at least we have plenty of choice. Add some potatoes bought from Aldi and hopefully something will grow this year.


Plans plans plans

We did spend some time thinking about what exactly we are working towards and we all had some specific ideas we want to incorporate. We don’t expect it all to get done this year but it gives us an idea of where we’re headed.

We want to have some traditional beds and some raised beds at various heights. This will allow myself, G’s wifey (who uses a scooter) and L’s kiddies to access plants easily whether sitting or standing. We want to make it fun though so are looking into alternative planters like car tyres (although I’m still researching as there’s questions over food safety). A nice seating area is a must so am spending time looking at Pinterest for budget ideas regarding seating.

G used to be a chef so he’s very excited to plant things he can use – most of which I’ve never heard of, and a herb garden. L wants some quick sow and grow items to keep the kiddies interested, a child friendly area would be wonderful and colourful. I really don’t care – anything that grows will be a bonus (as long as it’s not a weed). I mostly enjoy the sowing and weeding – yes, I do in fact quite enjoy weeding. I find it therapeutic and it’s a gentle activity that gets me outside in nature which is what I enjoy most.

Creating suitable paths will take some researching too. I alternate using a wheelchair and walking, G’s wifey uses a scooter and it’s possible pushchairs may be taken in the plot too, so we need to work out pathways where we can access all the beds whatever method of transport we are using. We have access to free wood chip but I’ve no idea how my wheels will fare on that surface. Other suggestions include plastic paving where the grass grows through, paving slabs and decking. We aren’t allowed anything permanent, we are all on a strict very low budget and the ground is super uneven at the moment which will take some sorting. Along with the shed repairs though, this needs to take some priority. There will be little point in creating beds, borders and tubs if they cannot be accessed

How to manage it?

Obviously we are taking on a massive challenge with our associated health and time restraints so how on earth are we going to do this?!

We have finally found a common time where we can all meet, after mid April anyway, so we have ourselves a dedicated couple of group hours together. Once the shed is finished we’re going to put a blackboard on the door to keep tasks up to date and we have our own private Facebook group. In between we can go when best suits us and just spend some time there.

I went on Friday morning and although I wasn’t feeling great, managed to do some small jobs. I trimmed back the bramble behind our plot and fixed our composting areas properly. The pallet compost need to be tied with some sturdier string, one of our dalek bins needed tying as well as it has a split in it and the other needed moving to a separate area as that will be our weed bin.It’s best to get this all sorted BEFORE we start adding composting material! Then it was whatever I could do sitting on the floor!

Pulling back some more of the old weed suppressant membrane I hand dug a small patch b leaning on a large fork and using a smaller fork while sitting down.It meant minimum effort and energy was required and I could take out as many weedy roots as possible. It’s probably not even a 2ft square patch but at least it’s something. This plot is going to be all about little and often rather than spending a day digging and weeding – constraints of M.E. would never let me do that. I always come back and have a snooze afterwords and although it does make me tired, the fresh air and peace of the general area means that I benefit from a sleep instead of waking up feeling just as tired as when I go to bed. My biggest personal issue is that I need to stop BEFORE I feel too tired, and I am just terrible at that.

I’ve got one more week of uni lectures and an essay deadline for next Friday and then I will be around more to do little and often and hopefully we’ll start to really see some advances.

The story so far (Part 1)

Back story

About 7 years ago my bestie and I put our names down for an allotment, the idea being we would run one together. After a chance encounter with the councils allotemnt officer I was finally offered one in October 2016. Bad timing doesn’t even begin to describe this! Bestie is now uber busy with a growing business and slight Pole Fitness obsession, my M.E. illness is not at its best and to top it all I literally just started a Masters degree in Psychology – which is not helping my illness at all. Still, I wasn’t prepared to wait another 7 years so of course I said yes please and received the keys to an enormous plot of land.

  Help! 
Everything to the blue water butt in the distance and the whole width is mine!

I’d never be able to manage this alone so I’ve teamed up with a couple friends. I met G while doing a volunteering job, he’s on the more mature side of life but full of energy and ideas and I just love him and his wifey. L is a fellow WI lady who also runs a childcare business so is hoping to include the allotment as after school activities which also gives me an excuse to make the plot fun.

It’s been slow going. Weather, uni and an inability to find a mutual date to get together, not much has happened to our plot.

Progress so far

We’ve sorted the compost area, a main pallet bin plus two Dalek bins. One of these will be for the nasty weeds we don’t want in our plot, couch grass, nettle, thistle etc. The idea is any composr from here will only ever be used in pots which are easy to weed – waste not want not.

We started to uncover areas that actually have weed suppressant membrane under the grass and the soil isn’t that bad. The weeds are fairly near the surface so easy enough to pick out and added some manure to our first bed.

Areas we know we aren’t likely to plant anytime soon are started to be covered up to keep the weeds down, some of these areas may be used as potting / planting / chilling area and some will be for raised beds I can get my wheelchair to and that children can easily use.

Emergency Repairs Needed

Our main issue (apart from the weeds) is our shed. It comes with the plot but is in need of urgent repairs. Yet it’s not quite bad enough for the council to replace (apparently) so a fellow plotter is asking the Probation Service who hold a plot to see if they can help me repair it. Fingers crossed they can help because I’ve no idea and G and L are away until mid April!

This is the roof from the inside complete with hole!

Just above the white board – that bright area is a hole in the wall.

More roof

You see my point!

Still, it’s not letting the rain in and survived the winter storms so I guess it’s got heart.