Two Years of Allotment Life

untitledwrenYesterday (22nd February) marked two years since I took on the custodianship of Plot 12, Bepton Road Allotments. Known fondly as ‘The Cutty Garden’, this small plot of land has undergone quite a transformation over the last 24 months; as has it’s gardener.

Perhaps the most notable recent change is that the allotment has doubled in size; in September the neighbouring two half-size plots became available and it wasn’t long before the fence was taken down and our plans and dreams expanded to fill the new extension. Thank goodness that, unlike when I started out as an allotmenteer, I now no longer garden alone. My partner (who I’ll refer to here by his initials AMP) has found that he particularly enjoys growing roses, and these feature heavily in our plans for the coming season. More on that another time.

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Tomorrow we are having a little ‘allotment party’. The two new plots (11A & 11B) collectively known as the Kitchen Garden, are to become the new focus for our veg-and-edibles growing efforts, allowing the Cutty Garden to be entirely turned over to cut flowers, with the exception of the miniature orchard already established. The Kitchen Garden is attached to the Cutty Garden on the uphill boundary, and this position means it is mostly in full sun even at this time of year, when the sun is low and caught by the woodland to the east. On Plot B, raised beds are going to provide the main growing space, but Plot A will be the focus of tomorrows activities: we hope to erect a poly tunnel. I have commandeered my brother and parents to give us a hand, nonetheless, it will be an interesting day. Triumphant success or dubious results, I’ll be sure to share some photos and lessons learnt on here or the Facebook page afterwards!

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This week we have been enjoying a few days off work, making the most of the time by doing some long-procrastinated jobs in order to get the Cutty Garden looking smart and ready for Spring. Edging the beds has been a major focus; the grass paths continually encroach, and it is amazing the difference sharp lines make to the overall appearance of the plot. There is still plenty of weeding to be done, the existing roses need mulching, and space needs to be cleared ready for an additional collection of Dahlias. The mini-orchard trees have been weeded, fed, and given a mulch of bark – so thats one job ticked off the list.

One area of the plot that is looking particularly good at the moment is the wildlife bank that forms the boundary between the Cutty Garden at the woodland. Snowdrops and hellebores are currently in bloom, with primroses and lungwort following on. The Bug Hotel has held together well, but I will have to wait for some warm spring nights before I have set up my trail camera, and perhaps see if a hedgehog might have made the cavity beneath the Bug Hotel, its winter quarters. Somehow however, I don’t seem to have a photo of it, so you’ll have to wait till I’ve popped back up to the plot and snapped one!

We have been blessed with some beautiful spring sunshine this week, and there is plenty of bird activity around the blog. Robins, Blackbirds, Blue Tits and Wrens, Great Spotted Woodpeckers in the nearby trees and a few other species squeaking and chirping away in the vicinity. It always lifts my spirits to see so much life in action; it is vital to remember to pause and breathe and appreciate it all once in a while.

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