Last year I took on an allotment plot near to my house as our garden like many towns folk is not large enough. However it proved to be a nightmare. It was hard work from the start, not physically but in organising my time between being a house husband carer for my disabled mother and looking after my then year and a half old son.
I had got half the site cleared but with no shed on site and no car carrying the tools back and forward was anightmare. There was also nobody to look after my son so many times I had to take him with me, which was fun. Every time I would get into digging I would turn around to find my lad pulling up carrots. I was starting to loose my enthusiasm for the allotment. The final straw came when one morning I got there to find many of the green houses had been broken, plants ripped up and sheds broken into. After that I started to go less and less, then when I did it was getting harder and harder to keep it in order. Finally I had to admit that I had failed to be an allotment holder.
It seems strange though, that at the same time, I was visiting my mother twice a week to do her garden which is quite large. I can’t see why I never put the two together. There is room for several plots and there is a shed full of tools. In February of this year I dug up the lawn, and started to add compost from the old heap behind the shed. It is excellent compost considering it had not been touched for years.
I planted onions, shallots, parsnips, swiss chard, khol rabi, beetroot, purple sprouting brocoli, peas broad beans and also squashes sweetcorn and french beans using the three sisters method. All grew well appart from the broccoli which was eaten by caterpillars when I was away on my permaculture course.
What struck me was how much better this whole situation was, I had my veg plot in a place that I already visited twice a week, had on hand babysitting, toilets and a canteen, sadly my mum was the cook (sorry mum) How many old, disabled or even busy people could use somebody to look after there garden and equally how many people are on waiting lists for allotments or as like me have other commitments. The guy nextdoor to us has a green house that never gets used and I don’t have room for one, if there was only more of a community feel we could share resourses.
I am a fan of the allotment it provides an essential part of urban life.But if you are thinking of getting an allotment or just want to grow a few things try and ask neighbours or family first they may find the help useful and possibly you may convert a few. There are so many giant lawned filled gardens in this country waiting to be turned into productive veg plots.