As well as tracking the progress of the flower patch (and I am determined there will be some), this year I want to record what progress I am making at the allotment – my other plot. This is just a short walk from my home and is a piece of land I have alternatively loved and despaired over for more than ten years and, even so, it is still a work in progress. Still a developing plot. And not developing in the sense that everything needs to change and be adapted, but instead in the sense of being out of hand, unruly. Still weed tangled in some places despite those sections being tackled again and again. This year, though, I have set my own deadline: sort it out or give it (some or all) over to someone who can.
Last year, the allotment (and the developing flower plot) both lost my attention at just the wrong time – mid Spring – when the weeds were appearing in seconds and growing strong while I had to give time to work. Then, as often happens, it was hard to ever properly catch up again and at the allotment the dark looks and comments became more frequent from the member of the allotment committee who is my neighbour. There was worry about my poppies which I thought were wild and wonderful with their crimson petals, but she saw as chaotic self seeders doomed to infest her patch. She even threatened to cut off their heads. Yes, last year became a battle, or many different battles against different kinds of opposition. I had to call in reinforcements not to lose ground. I spent long days digging and working the soil and my partner came and blitzed the weeds. We even got to deal with the plot’s edges – something, like dusting, I was innocently unaware mattered until someone pointed it out. The hard work paid off and the allotment was licked into temporary shape – passing the Committee’s unannounced inspection, but only getting a fair on the list which went up on the gate…
Now it is a new year and above all I want to enjoy my plot again and to make it truly productive in a planned and organised way. Yes. I want to do it differently: without guilt, stress and the looking over my shoulder in case someone is approaching to tell me off. It also seems important not to deny someone else this lovely space if I can’t use it better.
So there needs to be a plan and a timetable, I think. No more growing of a hundred seedlings with no proper weed free space in which to plant them. No dig and raised beds were the saviour of my sanity in the early days and the six I have continue to be easy to manage. It is the rest of the plot (and there is a lot left) that is more problematic.
So today and tomorrow I am sorting out the bottom section of my plot – piling it up with compost and picking out the weeds left after the cardboard covering has done some of the work. As a reward I will be ordering the seed for the courgettes, peas and beans which I hope will grow in that spot next summer.