COLUMNIST: Derbyshire allotment holder shares adventures 'from planter in a small garden to two-hundred-and-fifty square metre plot'
Hello and welcome to our first appearance for the Derbyshire Times!
We are a family of four, five if you count the hound (which we do), that have been allotment gardening for going on seven years.
On moving to Newton, Alfreton, in 2014, we planned to have a small vegetable patch in the garden. Those plans changed when a friend said there were allotments available in the village.
Numbers were exchanged, and within a couple of weeks of
our house move, we were collecting a site key!
It should be noted that the day we had a look around the site and chose our plot was also the first time we had set foot on an allotment.
Emotions were a bundle of excitement and overwhelm; we had gone from a planter in a small garden to around two hundred and fifty square metres with a handshake, a small rental fee and a promise we’d try our best.
After the site manager, Terry had left us (with armfuls of the best tomatoes we’d ever tasted), we spent some time walking the plot. It had, thankfully, been strimmed but remained largely a big patch of weeds.
Imaginations ran wild and dreams of rhubarb crumble, and strawberries on tap filled our heads...so it began.
Armed with the few garden tools that we had, on our next visit, we began simply by picking a corner and starting to dig! Turning over the ground, removing the weeds as we went along. We were very kindly given some raspberry canes, which went in early doors, quickly followed by the foods we eat the most, potatoes and onions.
I think perhaps, in hindsight, I would have given more thought to the plot’s layout.
It’s a good idea to consider areas of sun and shade, water access/collecting, shed, greenhouse and pathway placement from the onset. Using the no-dig method could have also saved us a lot of work.
Now entering our seventh year of growing, we have learnt a lot, mainly by trial and error but with a large smattering of advice from our lovely allotment neighbours, some of whom have become good friends over the years.
Our preconceptions that allotment life was for an elite bunch of green-fingered old boys were quashed when we were welcomed with open arms. Knowledge and seedlings alike were shared; we received nothing but encouragement.
The sense of community amongst gardeners on-site and online is second to none. If you have a concern, there’s always someone to ask. There are no silly questions.
I’d say the best piece of advice we have ever been given is ‘do a little bit at a time’.
An allotment is undoubtedly a commitment, but we have learnt how to keep on top of things whilst working. We are rewarded with delicious homegrown fruit and veg, fresh air, exercise and children that have a thorough understanding of how their food grows.
Tending to veg’ also does wonders for our mental health too; it’s a brilliant way to de-stress and clear the mind.
We look forward to sharing our experiences and tips. Standing by the fact that if we can do it, anyone can. If you don’t have an allotment, there are still so many crops that can be grown on a windowsill, patio, balcony or garden of any size.
We’d just encourage you to have a go!
Sarah, Justin, Savannah and Louis