Stumbling over words

Cosmos_10_10_13 (1)

I’m stumbling over words. Straining to capture and chronicle. Summer has seen a struggle. A struggle to document. Be it growth and development. Changes. Successes and failures. Festivities and feasts. Bright blousy beauties and hidden gems. Frustrations and slugs. Or should that read frustrating slugs? Weeks … Continue reading

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Bring me sunshine to plant garlic and the weekly view

Garlic Planting _ Nov 1012

Blogging is remarkable. I recount a tale,  ponder over an idea or ask a question and my blogging friends respond; you share ideas, experiences, opinions, ideas often with true candour and often with humour. Every time I write or post … Continue reading

The Very British Art of Allotment Gardening

The British are a bit on the bashful side. We don’t sing our own praises and as a rule we don’t put ourselves forward, we don’t push to the front and say “look at me!”.  It’s that British reserve.

And that British reserve is in full action on my allotments. Hours upon hours are spent on our respective plots, tending our seedlings, trimming this, tieing that back, caring and nurturing our precious stock.

And eventually the time comes when you start picking the produce – the bounty for all your hard work. And it is then that the British allotment gardeners display their true colours. There is no big bragging going on here – in fact it seems like the exact opposite is in action.

The very British way of gardening and not singing your own praises.

The perfect looking mooli is commented upon, and you instantly decry it, you say “oh but that’s the only one out of 25 that wasn’t eaten by slugs”. The lovely cabbage you carry home and when complimented on it, you reply “hmm, not had enough water this year have we?” or of the bunch of healthy carrots “yeeees, they are ok, but the leeks have been pathetic this year” or the fabulous blood-red beetroot “well it’s a bit large, probably woody inside”. Or on the perfect crisp lettuce being carried home for lunch, “Oh the blackfly is the worst I’ve ever known it, not a single broad bean to be had”.

You see we don’t take compliments, we don’t huff and puff our achievements up, we don’t open our tail feathers like Kupa, and display them for all the world to see expecting compliments to come flooding in. We are bashful and shy about our achievements but happy to witter on about the things that didn’t work. We detract from ourselves and our achievements. We decry and deny. We both happily and willingly point out our failings.

But at the same time we openly and gamely point to our complimenters plot and marvel at their wonderful produce, their straight lines, their neatly mown paths, the heavily laden fruit trees. And they in turn say, “oh but the weeds have been such a problem this Spring” or “half the onions have got white rot and have had to be pulled and destroyed” or the classic “dreadful germination problems”. You see we are happy to celebrate other people’s successes. But publicly admit to our own? Heaven forbid!

And around we go, never fully taking the compliment in public. But all the time smiling and nodding and agreeing with our fellow gardeners. All done very politely and gently. And off we go with a shrug and a smile.

When we get home and unpack our bags, we take a look at our pickings, we wash them and trim them. We sit back and think about what we will eat for dinner, and maybe, just maybe permit ourselves a little smile. “Hmmm not bad, shame about the …..

The Shed

I think we should start our tour of the allotments with the communal shed.

Our allotments are self-managed which means that we lease the land from the council and have a management committee run the site.

Day to day jobs are handled by the committee and volunteers. It runs on a shoestring, a heap of good will and some strategically placed string to hold it all together.

The shop is stocked with a few basics, from canes and butterfly netting, said string and a few bits which I’ve yet to work out what they are for. Tools you can borrow or hire, lawnmowers so we can keep the communal paths at least vaguely presentable.

The committee is made up of the likes of me, someone who loves the place for what it is and understands that we need a few people around to give a small amount of time for the benefit of having such a fabulous place at our disposal in return for a small sum in rent.

We manage the waiting lists, the tenancy agreements, get the council to sort out the fences every now and then, hold the odd fundraiser, and around we go. We sort out minor problems and try and ignore the moans and groans. Celebrate the generosity of fellow gardeners – be it with cuttings and spare seedlings or long earned knowledge.

The shop is a place to meet a few people, catch up on some news, swap some horror stories of how badly your broad beans are doing, and generally smile.

Hopefully next time I go to the allotments the sun will be out, I will have the right camera lens with me and we’ll manage to get beyond the shed. I’ll also try to explain a bit more about the allotments and their history, their purpose, their ups and downs. In the meantime how about a view as you walk up the path from the shed?