Plot 1a

Carrots and Calendula started out as a blog about my garden, but at the end of last year – after being on the waiting list for five years – I finally got an allotment. Plot 1a is completely overgrown but in a beautiful spot on the South Downs. Yesterday afternoon I even had a good view of a battle re-enactment!

According to the letter from the town council, I have 18 weeks to get it into a good state of cultivation (which means 40% cultivated in the first three years, 60% thereafter). The first job is to reinstate what were clearly once raised beds, but are now just grassy mounds with rotted timber at the edges. There is nothing for it but good old fashioned digging, coupled with my own method of shaking the roots of clumps of grass so as not to lose too much earth. The abundance of fleshy pink worms uncovered in the process tells me this is good soil, although my allotment neighbour informs me that weed seeds float in abundance off the downs.

I have inherited a bed of raspberries, which just need weeding, cutting back and mulching (I say just, this is actually a mammoth job), with a little pear tree to one side. My neighbour also tells me that in the far corner, under a wild tangle of Old Man’s Beard, there is a pond, which I am looking forward to recovering. Somewhere, he thinks, there are rhubarb crowns, but I will have to wait until the Spring to find out exactly where.

One downside is an enormous evergreen tree which is shadowing the plot, but hopefully I can remove the lower branches to let a bit more light in. There is also a broken picnic bench, which I’m told is a popular spot with pot-smoking teenagers. As long as they don’t make too much of a mess, I’m not going to worry about them – at least they are out in the fresh air. Hopefully once they see someone is taking care of the allotment again they will respect it. I may dismantle the table, just keeping the bench, to create more room for growing.

The first thing I am planning to plant is garlic. I have ordered a couple of bulbs of Solent Wight from the Garlic Farm on the Isle of Wight. I’ve tried not to go too crazy on the seed front, especially as I have quite a lot left from previous years, but from Chiltern Seeds I’ve ordered ‘Atomic Red’ and ‘Black Nebula’ carrots, ‘Crown Prince’ squash, ‘Cosse Violette’ French beans and rainbow chard. Our town’s annual ‘Seedy Saturday’ is coming up, where I will no doubt add to these as well as buy seed potatoes.

Slow and steady is my motto as I want the allotment to be a joy and not a burden, and I am planning to track my journey on this blog in 2022. For updates on my garden, please follow https://thehalfwildgarden.substack.com/ – hope you can join me!

11 Comments Add yours

  1. How exciting. I suggest weed supressing membrane will be your friend here – and flattened cardboard too! Do you have a local freecycle group or a Re-use, recycle local Facebook group? People are always offering pallets and unwanted offcuts of decking or boards, which might help you get started?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Eileen! I was planning to ask about pallets on our local Facebook group, although there are only certain types you can use. Will look into weed suppressing membrane and flattened cardboard too.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Eliza Waters says:

    Exciting news! Looks like you have your work cut out for you, but what a rewarding project it’ll be.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Eliza – it will certainly keep me busy!

      Like

  3. tonytomeo says:

    That’s pretty sweet! I do not know what an allotment is, but I know that everyone who get one is excited when they finally get it. Although they are small, they seem to be more productive than my garden, and in flat situations.

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    1. They started as a way for everyone to be able to have a small plot of land to grow their own food – here in the UK and I think they have similar things in other countries.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. tonytomeo says:

        I believe that there is something sort of similar in large cities here, but I am not certain. In San Francisco, there are ‘community gardens’, in which those who lack garden space can rent garden space. However, they pay rent on the garden space, and the space is on property that is owned by San Francisco or the particular municipality. I really do not know how they work. I have a planter box downtown, but it is only intended to be pretty, not to produce food, since it is downtown between a sidewalk and street.

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  4. Sally Wicks says:

    I too, have an allotment this year, it is so great to have space to grow food . I made my first visit last weekend, it was fabulous! Just to be thinking about what to grow

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    1. Isn’t it great? A whole new adventure!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Sally Wicks says:

        It is ! I love growing food , and now get the chance to grow even more . I made my first visit there last Sunday , it was so great . Not to many rules either, as it’s a down the end of a customers garden .

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I got a share in a community allotment plot last year after a long wait so can well appreciate how thrilling it is! What a beautiful spot for it, I love the South Downs. Quite chalky though but perhaps not on the allotment? You’ll be wanting to get the compost heap up and running soon 🙂

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