I was a bit of an odd child when it came to TV choices. At seven or eight there was nothing more delightful to me than settling down with a jam-oozed crumpet to an evening of Ground Force, watching Charlie and Alan transform little gardens with fruit trees and water features. And for delicious Sunday nights, my absolute favourite show was John Esmonde and Bob Larbey’s The Good Life, that golden comedy from the seventies starring Richard Briers and Felicity Kendall. Even as a youngling, I was drawn to their abandonment of conventional life, their happiness and simplicity, and the pure delight of living off the land.
So I guess it isn’t too bizarre to announce that I now have an allotment of my own! It’s around 32x5m (fairly large) and it’s been completely neglected for quite a while; there are two fruit trees – plum and cooking apple – and a little greenhouse with a broken pane. Aside from that it’s just a big patch of weeds with a heap of broken furniture at one end. Dreamy…
Fortunately for me, my boyfriend was well up for the challenge. I signed up rather optimistically under the impression that I could sort everything out alone, but being a fool, I didn’t predict how much work it would take just to set it up! He’s provided lots of tools and muscle power and started making the vegetable frames, and I’ve been trying my best to put my feeble arms to use by de-weeding and digging in manure.
Dave has also built a compost area out of pallets and, after an unsuccessful Gumtree search, he’s going to make us a lovely shed for tools and tea and Gardener’s World magazines. I will helpfully paint it green. I’ve also cleaned out the greenhouse ready to fill with warm seedlings, and we’ve just ordered our first lot of seeds to plant: cauliflower, pea, courgette and scarlet kale. The trees and borders will be filled with flowers for pollinators, part of our plan to make the plot as wildlife-friendly as possible.
Most excitingly, we’re going to have a little extra life on the plot! After being given a free chicken coop from a family friend, we’re going to adopt some ex-battery chickens from a local farm and give them a happy retirement. I personally think battery farming should be illegal, and I can’t believe people still buy caged eggs when free range is so affordable and so much more delicious. In addition to chickens, we will also hopefully get some bees next year! I’ve just finished a theory course with my local beekeepers association, and I’m planning on gaining lots of summer experience in apiaries so that by next spring we can keep our own hives. Hooray!
The best thing about having a little slice of the outdoors is that we live in a flat, and desperately miss having a garden; in the summer we can guzzle cool cider in the allotment sun surrounded by bees and aubergines. What’s not to love?