It’s Saturday, February 13th, 2021. And it’s the first time I’ve been down to the allotment for a very, very long time.
When I arrived the main gate house was open and they were allowing the public to visit the gardens. I have brought along a box of damson gin bottles for the girls in the main house at the front. Previously I had sorted out allotment allotment owners with their own box of damson vodka and gin at Christmas. However, because I have not visited the allotment in such a long time, this was the first opportunity I had to deliver for the volunteers at the main gate.
The snowdrops were out as I walked through the main gate and down the path towards the walled garden. The gate to the allotments was closed but there was one person inside tending their area.
The place wasn’t really in a bad state. I began by trying to dig the soil, but it was too frozen solid — the temperature is below freezing today. So instead I started by scraping the surface weeds off on the larger side of my plot. Then after that tiny bit of effort, I started to dig around the plastic pot that holds the horseradish plant. The plan is to take that out this year.
The last job was to move the tarpaulin sheeting from the end of my plot towards the middle. That would allow me to dig over the end of the plot which had been previously covered. This part was not frozen because of its covering, so it was really easy going. No weeds and easily dug.
The time now is about 2:30 pm in the afternoon. I’m back at the car and ready to head home. As things go it was a really easy time at the allotment today. Because of lockdown number two, I haven’t really been able to make it. Work has got in the way, it has been rainy throughout January the weather has not been too great for a while — there have been plenty of excuses. But now I’ve been I’m wondering if they really were proper excuses. I should make more of an effort.
Tonight I left work early and made it to the allotment before sunset. I made it with 1 hour to spare! So there was plenty of time to do a little digging before it went dark.
With a little bit of digging and clearing completed I was able to finally move the compost bin onto my adjacent plot and start the main cover up. I converted the whole plot with black sheeting. For the very first time! This marks the first time I’ve ever had the whole plot clear since taking it on.
Way back on the 7th March 2015. Nearly 5 years ago. My previous diary shows what it used to look like. A lot of work has gone into clearing this plot piece by piece. It has been a slow process but deliberately so.
So, I was pleased to finish that job and now I am ready to clear the other adjacent area and start transferring soil back onto the main plot. Also I can now start the biggest job: the final border.
That job will take the remainder of the year I think. I will not grow anything this year, instead I will spend my time fixing the borders of this main plot and clearing the secondary plot near the wall so I can hand that one back to the Allotment Association.
Today is Sunday 19th January 2020. Although the whole day has been away with the family, the last 15 minutes of the day were spent visiting the plot. Just to check it out…
An allotment check and a visit to find the garden cat. But it was getting too dark and too quickly so only a short visit to the rope swing and a garden cat check (no sighting) before heading back.
It wasn’t a surprise that the garden cat was nowhere to be seen because the temperature was dropping so rapidly. She must have been tucked up somewhere warm. The allotment was frosted over and the sheeting was still in place. Nothing to report. Still the same old jobs to do.
Saturday, the 11th of January 2020. I spent another couple of hours down the allotment this morning, trying to clear up the weeds which had remained over winter￼. I cleared (and then covered) another quarter of the plot, which means that just one small area remains left.￼
The only thing growing on the allotment at the moment is the rhubarb. This rhubarb plant has continually thrived on my plot and it’s beginning to grow again already! Although that’s not unexpected because the weather has been so mild over winter and I’ve noticed some of the plants in the hedgerows have started to bud and some have even flowered already.
Just a quick visit on Saturday morning. The weather has cleared, slightly at least for today. The rain has been quite constant for a few weeks and this weekend it seems to have stopped.
A small amount of tidying up still needs to be done, but every little helps as usual. So today I’ve spent about an hour down at the allotment.
I cleared a 5 x 5 m square area and converted it with the black sheeting ready for the winter. Probably I have another three areas to do on my plot before I have finished converting my main area. Then, it will be ready for the winter, New Year and spring.
But more importantly and because I really need to look forward, this will allow me to get on with other jobs. I will have made that area inert and eat to manage. It will be covered, possibly for the whole of next year. Instead, I can look at finishing the borders which were quite neglected this year.
Also I will be able to look at the plot by the wall. My intention is to hand that are back to the allotment association. They have plans fir for that long area but the . Possibly it will be levelled and grassed and planted with new trees all the way down that edge. Nobody seems to want to take on plots in the shade by the wall, and so it would make sense for them to be used as orchard areas.
However that means I will need to finish my jobs for the borders before they take the plot back. I have been piling up soil and turf on that long plot for the past two years, and I need to take that soil back for use on the pathed areas along side my main allotment before they take the site off me.
It’s been on my list of things to do for quite a while now. Spare five minutes, drive over to the allotment, make sure everything is in order, nothing knocked over, weed sheeting staying down, is the whole place in a fairly tidy state? Is there anything that needs doing? What should I start to plan for the New Year?
The problem has been late nights at work, the darkness rolling in very early on in the day, weekends are taken up by other things. But. Finally after about four weeks of trying to find some time, I’ve made it today. The place is fine.
As I walked into the allotment, the snowdrops were out already. Signs are up for the public, and people were taking pictures. January is not even here yet, it’s the end of December, but I don’t even need a coat on it’s that warm outside.
Allotment is fine, most of it is covered up and the part that isn’t covered up is clear of weeds. The only plant that is growing on my allotment at the moment is the rhubarb. Such a hardy plant, it has started to grow already, although that isn’t a surprise. I wonder if it did any hibernating this year? The autumn and winter has been so warm so far.
As I make my way back to the car I walk past the National Trust cafe. People are outside eating their lunch and, although some people are wearing woolly hats and big coats, that is just for show. The ice cream shop is open, and some of those people wearing full winter gear are waiting in the ice cream queue.
Nothing to report for the end of year. Everything looks okay.
On the way to the allotment this afternoon, about one hour before the sunset, I was going fairly steadily down the back roads when a silly pheasant walked out in front of my car. I slammed the brakes on, and missed it thank goodness. This I thought, could be the last time this year I would go to the plot, because the nights are drawing in very quickly and before long it will be too dark and cold to do any sort of work on the plot. The last thing I wanted to do was to squash something.
I arrived at the plot at around 3:15 PM. Plenty of time to do a small amount of digging along the borders, remove some turf, turn it upside down and straighten the edges.
I did most of it last weekend. All I really wanted to do tonight (this afternoon, although it is going dark very quickly) was to move the weed suppressant sheeting from one end of the plot to the other. Just to make the allotment ready for the winter.
I managed all of this. Probably this will do for winter, and unless the weather holds out for another weekend, I expect this will be the last time I will be going down to the plot until February or March next year, 2019.
I suppose, if the weather is good one weekend during December, then I might do some autumn digging on the clear part of the plot. That would be good. But that would all depend on the weather. But I expect with Christmas on the doorstep and the usual rush at work while panic ensues before the hols — it will be next year before I do any more.