My allotment is in southeast London. The site is relatively small with only eight plotholders. Three, including mine are full 250m2 plots and the other five are half plots. Everyone is very helpful and friendly and the atmosphere is quite laid back. Aside from the Foxglove Affair and the Asparagus Incident there haven’t been any squabbles. Nobody gets carried away with the clipboard at the annual inspection, not that it’s needed. There is a tiny bit of rule breaking and sometimes people get too busy to weed properly, but usually everyone’s plot looks pretty good.
I’m on Plot 4. “Plot IV” if I’m making poncy labels for jam that I hope to foist on the unsuspecting at Christmas. When we were offered the plot in September 2014, I was hesitant about taking on the whole thing and was only going to take half. The Enabler earned his name that day by insisting we take it all. He thought that we could easily give back half if it got to be too much, but getting a second half later on might prove difficult. He was totally right, and now he has only himself to blame for the scale of my allotment dependency problem.
My only regret from that time is that I didn’t back up the pictures on my phone, which I lost a year later, probably under the pond. Words cannot convey the state of how it was. The back third of the growing area was overgrown with bramble, nettle, couch grass and comfrey. There were many things lurking back there, though a lot of it has proved useful. The rest of the growing area was covered in rotting raised beds and the weeds were making inroads. The path between my plot and plot 5 was a health and safety nightmare as it was narrow and raised two feet high in places.
At the top of the plot there was a huge pile of rubbish. The council arranged to take that away – THANK YOU! Finally there was an old shed, straight out of the Three Little Pigs. Somehow it survived nearly three whole winters, but Storm Doris made sure that it would not see a fourth. It served me well and was given a glorious send off to Shed Valhalla.
It has been hard work, but now the plot is almost how I want it. My greenhouse sits on one half of the former rubbish site and a seating area is taking shape on the other half. The Enabler has upcycled an old Wendy house into an Instagram-worthy shed. Raised beds made from left-behind rubbish, and cordon fruit trees line the top path that links all the plots. A bit more than half of the plot is given over to annual “beds”. More like “planting areas where I’ve been pestered into leaving paths for access”. Surprisingly, given the name of the blog, we plan to install no-dig raised beds over time. The rest of the plot houses perennial fruit and veg, a pond, a compost area and a small rubbish pile that will hopefully house beehives, someday.
So, that’s my patch. To borrow a line from my favourite Requiem, Brahms**, wie lieblich sind deine Wohnungen.
* Besides the allotment, my other main interest is choral singing. Settings of the Requiem are a favourite, and they usually start with an Introit. Hence, “Introit,” seemed appropriate for an introductory post!
** If any choir people are reading this, yes, the Brahms Requiem doesn’t have an Introit. And apparently the more modern translation of Wohnungen is closer to “flat” or “apartment” than “dwelling place” as sung in English, and the council won’t let me live here, so it’s technically not a dwelling place. Still, you get the idea…