Taking over a derelict allotment which was being strangled by couch grass, bindweed and mare’s tail and turning it into a productive source of fresh food has been a pleasure-filled challenge. Six months from Slough of Despond (or as a friend’s late mother, who had a stock of wonderful phrases at the ready, used to describe a dreadful situation as the Abomination of Desolation) to a ten-pole Garden of Eden- not bad, you can feel me smirking, but hours of and hours (twelve hours average a week, sometimes fifteen) alone have given a result where the courgettes are winking under their large leaves, four sorts of beans are rapidly forming under the late summer sunshine, seven kinds of salad leaves plaintively beg to be picked daily, parsley, basil, dill and chives stand in orderly rows, the Charlotte potatoes fatten steadily inside their earthworks, cavolo nero leaves sprout two cm. each day, the purple mange-tout hide under their blue-grey leaves and the gooseberries have been picked clean and bottled for chutney. Soon tomatoes will be ready at the moment when sweetpeas bid a last farewell, having saved me a fortune in flowers from the shops, and godetia start to proliferate. In a week or so the cosmos will be nodding next to the dahlias. Then will begin the time to re-assess and plan ahead. Strawberries or no strawberries? perennials, maybe some flowering shrubs and roses for cutting, more raspberries (golden?) and a search for cow-manure.
Sometimes I’ve been so bone-weary that I can hardly get to sleep at night. The digging, weeding, hoeing and planting-out, especially tiring since the heat-wave -when sweat has streamed off my face- even that hasn’t deterred my motivation to Get It Under Control.
Remember Paul and his dog who valiantly worked on the drowned allotment? (Post of December 2012). He has been digging for two hours every Sunday and looks a a lot happier than he did in December and January.
I just wish the abandoned plot on the South side could be scythed- all the grass seeds are drifting over to me.
Salad of Charlotte potatoes and mangetout
Four charlottes boiled
Handful of very fresh mangetout brought to the boil and refreshed in cold water
Green onion, garlic clove minced
mustardy french dressing
Salt, pepper, pinch of chili flakes
That’s it! Eat with boiled egg.
The orchard on my North side is laden with fruit (mine didn’t do anything this year) and is a pretty sight.