Sunday, 2 March 2008

From Welly to Belly

We live a street away from the railway line and sometimes when I'm laying in bed at night and the wind is blowing in the right direction I can hear the gentle vibration of the last train on its way to London for the night. We also walk over the railway bridge on our way to the allotment.

I have been guilty of not having visited our allotment for a while. Largely due to wet weather, cold weather, feeling rubbish. Enough excuses for you?! The sun was shining beautifully this afternoon though and I was itching to go down there for a nosey around to see what was going on.
Part of the reason could have been a present bought for me by my lovely husband on our trip into Cheltenham this morning. There I was, all ready to leave Waterstones empty handed when he appeared with this treasure. I do already have Andi Clevelys' other book, 'The Allotment Book' but this is his long awaited follow up. It's full of useful info, articles on people who have allotments and what they like to grow, and original seasonal recipes. Even if you don't have an allotment but like growing vegetables in your garden I would recommend it.

We're quite lucky at out allotments in that there is a carpark (not that we use it much- we have a shed and only live around the corner, but still useful to have a carpark if you're heaving bags of compost about or transporting trays of seedlings from home). We also have water on tap ( I didn't realise that many sites don't and owners have to survive by keeping huge water butts, old baths, any large container you can think of and just being very sparing with water, or planting drought resistant varieties and mulching a lot) We still use water butts as the tap is quite a distance and we like to recycle as much as possible, but it would be a nightmare not to have a tap with such a huge plot.

The plots are full of imaginatively built sheds, greenhouses, tables and benches. I could wander around for hours just looking at everything. It's so interesting to see how people set up their plots..some are a jumble of plants plonked here there and everywhere, others are strictly uniform rows of plants, not a weed in sight (impossible! How do they do it?!) One old chap, Len, practically lives at his plot. He has a shed with a toilet, a cooker, armchair and resident dog. The allotments are his life, and fellow allotmenteers his friends. He will do anything for anybody and is always on hand with advice (but equally happy to tell you where you are going wrong!)

And this is our plot. The photo is taken from the top, and it slopes down to where the shed is at the bottom. On a clear day we have an amazing view across the town and over the Cotswolds. The crop in front are broad beans, beyond that Purple Sprouting and then Leeks. Behind where the photo is taken from are 5 massive rows of strawberries. Yum.

This is the view from the bottom looking up, as far as the blue water butts. The plot is terraced which makes life a lot easier when you realise you've left something in the shed.

Dad has been very busy in recent weeks getting the soil ready for spring planting, and it's looking great now, like a blank canvas ready to be filled. We have grand plans for lots of potatoes, cabbages, cauliflowers, courgettes, sweetcorn, carrots, parsnips, peas, runner and borlotti beans...the list is endless. I want to grow sweet peas up the side of the shed this year as well.

At home I am going to grow tomatoes cucumbers and peppers in the greenhouse, and continue to nurture the herb garden as it's looking good so far, just needs some sunshine now. Like the rest of us!


Dragonfly said...

That's a BIG plot! I'm itching to get over into my allotment. My seed potatoes and onion sets arrived this week, so I've no more excuses now! Hopefully next weekend will be fine to get cracking...

The List Writer said...

Oh, I've been dying to see pictures of your allotment. It looks very impressive!

Thanks for sharing. xx

Ragged Roses said...

You've made me want to have an allotment again! I use to love it up there but I also remember what hard work it was - good luck with yours. It's so exciting being able to grow your own fruit and veg. Take care

shabby chic said...

You are good it does look like it is a big plot. its lovely growing your own veg and there is something nice about knowing its home grown too.
x Dominique

dottycookie said...

What a huge plot! We're sharing a bit of an allotment with a friend this year, and have a very tiny patch in our back garden where we usually grow peas, just so the kids can see where they come from. Lots of herbs too.

We've ventured out there this week for the first time in months. It is amazing what you can do in a couple of hours.

Cowboys & Custard said...

Hello Anna.. sorry long time no blog from me!
I love the whole institution of British in fact the British at their best..
I am looking forward to your crop photos later this summer..Nothing beats the flavour of home grown veg!
Love Michelex
P.s I use to live a lane away from a railway track.. it was all very Railway Children .. I would sit on the embankment and wave to the trains travelling to Guildford.. I loved the sound of them coming into the small station.

driftwood said...

wow, your allotment looks amazing - where are the weeds?
I share a bit of an allotment with a friend and grow mostly nettles, and bindweed and couch grass........ and we're not allowed a shed, and the people who run it hate children, so it's not much fun really, I wish we could get a nicer site.

April said...

What an amazing view you have. I am always really impressed with anyone who can manage an allotment, unfortunately there aren't many where I live and a long waiting list - oh well I can make do with my little courtyard garden where I grew strawberries for the first time last year (and yummy they were too!) xx

Tracy said...

You what a great space you have to grow goodies...Such fun to see the photos. And this post has me exciting about the growing season to come! Happy gardening and eating! Have a great week, my friend ((HUGS))

Country Cottage Chic said...

You have a big plot! Bet you get loads from it in the summer. We get a lot from our garden so a big plot like that must be really productive. The book looks great - I'll have to find it.

Summer by the sea said...

Hi there, thanks for visiting my blog! I would love to get an allotment as we have no garden, and there are some not far from us, so I may look into it - I also love your ticket wall - what a good idea, I am currently carrying 2 tickets for the London Eye & 2 tickets for Dirty Dancing around in my purse - from when we went to London at Christmas for our anniversary - Natalie x

Curlew Country said...

I am so looking forward to seeing how your alltoment comes on (fingers crossed we get a better summer than last year!) I've been promising my boys a bean den at this new house, a sort of low tripod of beans that they can climb inside. (Anything to encourgae them to eat veg, hopefully they'll pic a few off and munch!)
What a wondeful project, send us some strawbs is you have any spare!

wendster said...

Hello from California!
This is my first time to your blog and I enjoyed it. I had never heard the term "allotment" but they seem to be what we have under our power lines. I don't have one. But they sound very cool.
Well in? What a fun way of saying it. What do we say? My nephew is funny. He says "super" ... as in .. "your mother is UGLY ... but if she wore a CAPE she would be SUPER ugly." It's for a laugh. I'm not "hip" so I'm the wrong person to ask. I'll have to ask my children.
OK. This comment is way too long. Nice to meet you.
Feel free to drop in.

julia said...

Looks like a great plot. It's not one of the Midwinter ones under threat is it? I'm very impressed by the lack of weeds. I love the idea of an allotment but in reality I know I just wouldn't be able to dedicate enough time to one. I'll just have to make do with rocket and potatoes in our old kitchen bin!
Julia x

Katherines Dream said...

Gosh you put me to shame, mine is only 1/3 dug over!
I am going there tomorrow to get stuck with prep's.
Carol x

Katherines Dream said...

Thank you Anna for you lovley comments - I guess we may 'bump' into one another some time!
We should wear a flower in our lapels when in the square!!!

Vintage Amethyst said...

Wow, your allotment looks fantastic! It must be so great to grow your own yummy goodies.
Love Alison x

Gill at Lucy Locket said...

Wow that's some plot. I'm impressed.A lot of hard work there, but how rewarding to grow your own. I've been watching Jamie's series and he grows some wonderful fruit and veg, it's very inspiring. I don't have a garden or time for an allotment, but one day when we do move I want a fruit tree, and a small veg patch. Lovely to see what you've been up to and thanks for visiting. It was nice to find out more about you too!

buttercup & roses said...

Gosh what a huge space you have! It must be so lovely to grow all your own fruit and veg...
I geuss it must be hard work though, I find it tricky enough just growing a few tom's in the summer!

bet you cant wait for all those yummy strawberries to be ready!!
Jen x