Thursday, 29 March 2012

Farewell, Allotment...

And so yesterday Andy returned the allotment key to Plot 87 to the allotment committee secretary and we became ex-allotmenteers.
I felt a bit traitorous. Like I'd let down our vision of living the good life. Like I'd failed to manage other areas of my life in an efficient way in order to make 'time-room' to keep the allotment going. But really, after six years we've done the right thing. We both work full time, in stressful jobs. We both have other hobbies that take up our weekends. We have a house and garden to take care of, and three bee hives too, which are already showing signs of going crazy again this year. And we've learned a lot about growing our own.
What could I have sacrificed for the allotment? Writing? No way - writing makes me happy. Writing is what I do, first and foremost (Darn...if only I could make it pay!!). Reading? Nope. I love reading. I'd be a rubbish English teacher if I didn't read. Arty-crafty stuff? Well, that's sporadic as it is, and I want to do more of it.
No. The allotment grew too time consuming....
However....
...in our garden at home we have rhubarb growing and the transplanted gooseberry bushes are full of leaf. The raspberry canes are looking okay. The jury is out on the grape vines but we live in expectation. The hops and the herbs are putting on fresh growth. The apple and the damson and the nut trees are in leaf and blossom and baby catkin. And there are seeds planted up in the greenhouse - flowers and tomatoes. And Andy has made a new veg bed next to the herb garden. He has planted beetroot and spinach, broccoli and cabbage and something else, he can't remember what. The veg bed is netted and fenced against Les Mademoiselles Poulets who in turn are looking quite keen to un-net and fence it.
This weekend bean seeds will go in, and courgettes and lettuce. As they grow they will live in pots around the front of the house, turing the concrete oasis of our driveway into a lush forest of green and heaven help any of the local yobs who try and tamper with our runners.
And so we are carrying on! Not as allotmenteers, but as cottage gardeners. Which, quite frankly, I prefer the sound of. It suggests the need to wear a large floppy hat, and Victorian-style bloomers, and wander around snipping at things with lady-like scissors and depositing them in a nice little willow basket carried casually across my arm. It suggests gentle pottering rather than hefty slogging, genteel faffing rather than sweaty huffing.
I like that we have everything on site so we can keep an eye on it. If something is looking droopy, we can nip out and water it there and then. We can catch weeds as they happen rather than giving them a week's growth from Monday to Friday. And if we want to spend a day gardening, we have loo and tea and biscuits on hand rather than two miles across the other side of a busy town.
No more clearing up takeway debris that foxes have stolen from bins and spread across our plot on a Saturday night. No more fretting that we can't get to the allotment to water everything when we have a dry spell. No more listening to the comments of allotment neighbours (all retired and time-rich) who say things like, 'Haven't seen you here for a while.' No more missing perfect picking moments of the soft fruit and salad stuff.
It's not all bad.
One day we'll have a bigger garden. But for now, our little garden will do.

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