Sunday, 26 October 2008

Allotment Envy

We're on a waiting list for an allotment, have been for 13 months now. When I checked on it last month they said the average waiting time for an allotment was 2 years. George from down the street says it's more like 3 years.

I pass this allotment often and spy through the fence to see what's growing and how. It's a little shanty-town of greenhouses and sheds with a streak of self-sufficiency going on there.

I'm always impressed at what packrats allotment gardeners are and how well they reuse things for other purposes, which I think is a big part of the fun in an allotment!

CDs and cassette/video tape can be used as bird-scarers

glass jars as mini-cloches

old windows and doors to build greenhouses.

They collect water off the roofs of their sheds.

Sometimes very substantial sheds

Create neat paths and planting beds

I was amazed at this very raised bed!

There is always a sitting place of some kind, something we never got around to doing.

But sometimes I do wonder if they just hoard wood for the fires they are allowed to burn on Saturdays and Thursdays. I suspect there is a bit of pyromania going on there as well.

I think my gardening skills must be improving because I recognised some of the plants on sight (don't laugh!). Like leeks

and chard,



Brussel sprouts

and rhubarb

These people could get together

and make some terrific salsa.

I did have to ask Bill what this was...giant chard, apparently!

Of course, it is also a time of starting over and in many cases the new allotment user has to kill off the weeds left by the last user before they can begin planting.

Bill says there are more women and families doing allotment gardening now, where once it was the refuge of retired working class men, escaping from the wives at home. There does seem to be more flowers than there used to be; allotment gardening is definitely becoming 'middle class'.

Some of it looks almost industrial in scale, though the rules in this local authority are that the space is to be used mostly for growing food for personal consumption, not for sale. Allotments are a good size -- Bill estimates about 30 x 60'. When we were trying to keep up within one, it felt huge, I can tell you, but then we had lots of weeds -- particularly nettles -- we were fighting from the start.

This used to be our plot, but someone else with more time and energy has obviously taken it over. Bill loves to tease me about how good it looks now we've left it.

It doesn't look nearly as big as it used to...

Oh well, our name will come to the top of the list,



Rick Stone said...

You must remember that you have more than the British reading your writings. So, okay, what is an allotment? Do you buy this piece of land or what? If you don't buy it then who owns it? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Shelley said...

I'm pleased you asked -- allotments are one of the things that really intrigued me when I first came across for a visit...back in 1993.

The local authority -- the local unit of the national government (there are no states here) owns the land and users rent an allotment from them.

It's all very historical and part of the fabric of British society. You can read lots more interesting stuff about it at: