Thursday, December 21, 2006

It's on the horizon

Yep the good old season of goodwill seems to be well and truly upon us and it's only 3 more days until Christmas day's looming on the horizon!
I haven't been to the allotment since the 12th December because it hasn't stopped raining since and I don't want a repetition of the last visit! I've continued to study the seed catalogues and I've come to the conclusion that it's all a guessing game and nobody knows what they're doing really they just have a go and fall lucky! Well that's my theory and that's what I'm going to do I reckon, I'm just going to order loads of stuff, stop trying to work it all out scientifically, planning every last square inch and just bung loads of seed in and see what happens.
A bit like the attitude of Robin in the book 'Allotted time'. This is quiet an interesting book written by Robin Shelton and his friend Steve about his experience in 'doing' an allotment. Not a bad read! His attitude is '...stuff grows' (or some similar quote!) and I suppose that's correct, if you sow seeds they want to grow and ok maybe they need some attention as well now and then but generally it's not us that are the experts but him above or nature! I think I'll go off now and do some chatting to him above to see if he'll go and dig my plot over while I'm busy at never know!

A Gloucester allotment

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

And God said...let there be rain!

Ok so he didn't really but at the moment I am sailing the car in and out of the allotment! I went down there yesterday to put some odds and sods there that we had rescued from skips (door, pallet etc) There is a central track that leads through the middle of the site and at the moment it is a total quagmire, I got half way along and came to a grinding halt with the wheels just spinning! I don't actually know the right way to get out of that sort of situation (apart from phoning someone in distress!) so I floored the accelerator and hoped for the best, it worked. Of course then I had to do the same in reverse to get back out but luckily I managed without getting stuck.

It's so frustrating to stand looking at this plot of ground wanting to dig it but not being able to, the ground is just so sodden that it just sticks to everything, totally impossible to do.
I keep day dreaming about the summer and imagining what it will be like the moment that feels a long way off!

I had a very garden influenced birthday the other week, I had some fab presents including : New spade, secateurs, trowel, hand fork, 2 allotment books, digital radio (for the plot), parsnip seeds and garden vouchers, I felt totally spoilt.

I've been trying to gather seed catalogues together to work out who to buy from but so far the only one that really inspires me is the real seed company. It's a small family owned seed company that appears to stand for all the values that I would like to have in growing veg. I don't like the fact that the multinationals are so dominant and that older varieties are dying out.

A Gloucester allotment

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Lets go wombling...

We drove over to collect some wood from a freecycle request of mine this lunchtime. I placed a wanted posting on freecycle for any old planks, wood of any kind etc. I received a reply from a lady who is in the process of demolishing some sheds in her garden, she kindly left the wood on the drive for us to collect at our leisure.
We took a fair bit including the old shed door and drove over to the allotment to deposit it. I really do love freecycle, it's the most brilliant idea, you don't want it, see if someone else does before you dump it! Without freecycle I would have had to buy wood to repair the shed, build the edges of the beds etc or at least taken ages finding bits here and there.

I spent a really nice afternoon pottering on the allotment, it had rained loads over the last week so it was a bit like a swamp. However, I managed to replace the floor in the shed with odds and sods from the old floor boards that were there and the freecycle wood. I was half way through and going about it in a very heath robinson way when I was suddenly aware that it was very slap dash and very recycled looking BUT this is what I wanted, I worried a bit that maybe I should take longer to make it look neater but this is what I have always found attractive about allotments and sheds...the hap hazard look! The floor is solid, it should be I used way too many nails, it looks quirky and robust and very allotment like.

I had a chat with John who has a couple of plots at the other end of the site. John's a Scot who has had his plots here for around 4 years, he is the gaffer (not officially but he knows his stuff and cares about the site) John is great for offering advice on things, he lives behind the site and keeps an eye on things, there is still vandelism but not as bad as it could be.

So, I need to bang some extra bits onto the outside of the shed, fix some things inside, and attach a door....easy.

A Gloucester allotment

Saturday, November 25, 2006

So here it is...warts and all!

So this is it, this is what greeted me on my first day at the plot, it was really strange that it didn't look this over grown when I was viewing it with Mrs. Baldwin.
Somehow in the couple of days that passed between me taking on the allotment and arriving on the Saturday morning to start it had grown at least 3 foot of weeds! Oh well that shows how fertile the soil is!

So it took 3 days on the first weekend with a petrol strimmer to clear the weeds and then on the next weekend we had a huge bonfire (you can just make out the burnt patch) next came the prep work for the 10 beds that are going in. Black plastic bought on Ebay was cut to size and pegged down, bed no.1 has been dug but boy was it HARD work! Taking up what basically had become turf and trying to dig out the couch grass roots. I am determined to do this in an organic way.

A Gloucester allotment

Friday, November 24, 2006

In the Beginning...

"Meet me there at 12pm" She said.
She being Mrs. Baldwin, Anita to some, somehow I don't think I'll ever call her that.

Mrs. Baldwin is in charge of all the allotment sites in Gloucester, the Hawthornes site was the only one to have any available plots on it. I arrived in plenty of time and took a minute to look over the gate into the field that is in front of the allotment site. Hawthornes is a locked site so I had to wait for Mrs. Baldwin's arrival.
When she arrived she unlocked the gate and we walked into the field and started to walk towards the hedge and the opening that divided the allotments with this field.
Suddenly Mrs. Baldwin stopped and started to tell me that certain plots had been taken and certain ones hadn't, I thought she was just preparing me for the site before we walked into it but oh no, I quickly caught up and realised that we were talking about the field that we were stood in!!! The wild, overgrown meadow that she was calling 'Allotments' !
There really was no evidence that this field had ever been an allotment site adjacent to the other one, it was just a field. The developers are hovering apparently , it hasn't been used for digging in 4 or 5 years from what I can gather. There was however such an outcry from locals when it was going to be developed that apparently the council said something along the lines of use it or it goes, so it seems that they are trying to encourage people back onto this site.
Now, call me lazy or shortsighted maybe but the thought of trying to dig a field over didn't really excite me, we carried on walking up the track into the next field, this is still cultivated. This is 'Hawthornes' and the other one is 'Tredworth Fields' (rather apt!) now here was a site that I could see me being on, it's unruly, shabby, tin huts in some places and that is just the sort of allotment site I had envisaged!
Plot 28a (to be renumbered at some point though) totally overgrown but I just had a feeling and it also had a shed, well some would call it a shed, originally a wooden shed that is now clad in corrugated iron, for some reason I find it really cute.
The door is missing and the floor is rotten, one freecycle request later and I have a door waiting to go on and I've pulled up the floor in preparation for a new one...and I thought the field plots looked like hard work!

A Gloucester allotment

Tuesday, November 21, 2006


Ok, so this is blogging! Oh God I don't know if I should be doing this, oh well I've bloody well done it so I'd better carry on!

The names Womble....Glosterwomble, similar to the London variety and vaguely related ( a sort of country cousin) but slightly more 21st century and not so much the scavenger, they tend to 'find' stuff, us country wombles are that little bit more refined and we prefer to surf for it! You never know where internetting will get you!!

1) Need a boyfriend...Gaydar (I'm forever grateful, he is my life!)
2) Need a house...Fish4 (They did a great line in perfect Victorian houses in Gloucester)
3) Need an allotment...Gloucester city council website (Plot 28a, Hawthornes site, 6ft of weeds...mine!)
4) Need a shed door!!...Freecycle (4 doors later)

So, one boyfriend? Check! One Victorian house? Check! One (totally unruly overgrown) allotment? Check! One shed door? Check! Ok so lets get on with it then, shall we?

A Gloucester allotment