Wednesday, 19 September 2012

It's a thin line between love and hate.

 I have a love hate relationship with the Allotment.

 When I'm there, I don't want to give it up. I don't always enjoy the work, but I like having this space in which we can grow stuff. It's ours, for better or worse. When I'm not there, I struggle to find the motivation to go there.

There are reasons for this. And it's not all about me.

You see, it's always really been Bren's allotment. Not "ours". Hers. I had little say in what happened there. I just did a bit of the donkey work. At least at first. Now, she's busy with the shop, and has no time. And it's become more a source of stress for her than anything, anyway. We don't get on that well with one of our immediate neighbours. Or with the guy that runs the site. So we were increasingly walking into a headwind. 

And then of course, there was the fire.

Bren hasn't been back since, and apart from one brief visit to have a look at the damage and take some pictures, neither have I. Until what is now yesterday.

The catalyst was a round of golf with my Dad. I'd been feeling increasingly guilty about just leaving it anyway. I'd left some plants in the remaining shed, and without water they would be dying. Would you like the death of 3 baby aubergine plants on your conscience??? Anyway, I played golf with my dad on a course called Moss Valley, near Wrexham. A rugged and contoured 9 hole course on some reclaimed coliery tips. It's a nice course, and far more challenging than my local municipal. And as I went around, I found wild blackberries. Perfectly ripe they were, and sweet. I couldn't take my mind off all the stuff we'd left to just rot. 

I got back too late to do anything that day. We got a bit lost in the back roads between Wrexham and Mold. Some beautiful driving, but not conducive to getting home.

Today though (I won't keep on belabouring the after midnight bit. It's today until I get out of bed in the morning) I had a gap of about 5 hours between lessons. I picked up the keys and went down there with some bags.

Someone had cleared much of the rusty corrugated metal that was strewn about following the fire. The bit where our shed used to be was pretty much just ceramic tiles. A few weeds poking through, but clear enough. Much of the plot has become pretty overgrown, as you might expect when we've done no weeding for a month, but if the weeds have been growing, so have the things we planted.

First thing I did was put the dessicated aubergines into a bucket of water. I gave then a good soak, then took them back out. I don't suppose they'll survive, but at least I've given them a fighting chance. Then on with the gloves and wellies, and a good look at what needed doing. We had loads of massive (2 feet!!!) string beans at the very front of the plot. I picked them and put them in a carrier bag. the next obvious thing was towards the back of the plot. Our courgettes have become massive. Our noodle squashes were massive too. I twisted them off their stems, found a sturdy nylon bag and bunged them all in. I could hardly lift the bag and I couldn't move it more than a couple of feet at a time without putting it back down with a thud and a gasp. Ken, the guy next door who we do get on OK with arrived at that point, and helped me carry it to the end of the plot, ready for me to bring the car down. We discussed burned sheds and he kindly lent me a garden fork.

Until that point, the entire range of tools at my disposal was a small hand trowel, a pair of shears, and some scissors.

Thus armed, I went in search of further prey.

The potatoes had died right back so it was hard to find them, but by digging over pretty much the whole of the beds, I got a pretty hefty bunch of Pink lady fairapple spuds (little knobbly ones,  ideal for boiling, seve with a knob of butter) and a few rogue plants that we'd missed last year. The overwintering onions were a waste of effort. Hardly bigger than when they were planted. I grabbed a few of the biggest and left the rest.

There were many hundreds of raspberries and blackberries ripe on their canes. I wanted them to be as fresh as possible so I left them, intending to do them in the last half hour. Meanwhile, I harvested sweetcorn, and the more successful onions from the back of the plot.

This last bit was done in a heavy shower of rain. From that point on, there were interludes of dry, but with time going by, I decided to pretty much call it a day.

Before I left though, I cut some sweet peas. There were loads of them in flower and I only took a fraction of what was available. 

So I put in a shift. I grafted. And I enjoyed it. Bren wants to give it up. I don't.

So the solution is pretty clear. I take on responsibility for it. If it doesn't happen, then it's my responsibility. She can come when she has time and chop back the nettles for me. I shall bring her flowers and raspberries.

Tonight we had potatoes, string beans and sweetcorn (with a veggie burger each). The taters were fine. The beans were a bit tough. The sweetcorn was as nice as any sweetcorn I've ever tasted.

driving lessons in Wallasey? learn to drive in Wirral? driving instructor in Birkenhead?

1 comment:

Pete said...

I think all these gardening programmes on the radio and tv in which experts with loads of cash, time, money and equipment tell you you have to do this at this time and don't forget to do that in this particular way otherwise you'll get rot, aphids, fungus, blueberry blight, giant carrot-devouring wasps etc. Just chuck 'em in and see what you get. Everything else is a bonus. So well done on your hard-earned vegetables and keep those raspberries out of the demijohn.