Wednesday, 25 April 2012

The end of an era

Three years ago we took on an allotment. It was a reclaimed bit of field, and we dug and planted and used gallons of suncream in whipping it into shape. The first season was fabulous - freshly picked sweetcorn, armfuls of cut flowers, endless potatoes and the most delicious beans and courgettes and butternut squash.


The second season started well - our potatoes were frosted in late May, but undaunted we carried on, cultivated the areas we had left fallow the first year and planted crops - which subsequently failed.

Last year, I determined to get to grips with the plot that was by now threatening to go back to nature. I gave in and used Roundup on the most stubborn weeds, something I had promised myself I would never do. Our little patch of paradise began to resemble a derelict building site. 

I started to lose sleep over it. I started to feel like a failure.

So, we have decided to give it up. I went up last night to say goodbye and thank you and to collect the last of our tools. I felt nostalgic on the long trudge up the path to the middle of the windy hillside, and wavered for a moment - until I saw that something had broken down our fence and there was a rabbit lolloping about in it.

I picked the last tulips, hoisted my barrow and headed back to the car. And breathed.

22 comments:

  1. I think allotments are great for a time in life when little children need fresh air and are happy poking about with a stick and a few worms for hours. But it's hard to sustain that for years. I'm sure you'll just enjoy your garden more.

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  2. If I'm completely honest, I always secretly dislike the people I know who yomp off to their allotments in all weathers, looking all perky and full of beans. Even on a summer's day, we are much happier in front of a film.

    There are enough things to maintain as it is.

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  3. I understand exactly how you feel as I gave my allotment up 4 years ago. At times I still miss it, although I suspect that the missing it is through rose coloured glasses now! It was fun at times, but I just didn't have the time to do it properly and, like you, lost sleep over it! Now I have a small veg plot in my garden, which I can tend easily without it becoming a major operation!

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  4. I think it is always a difficult decision to give something up (degree or allotment the process is the same)but it sounds as though it was the right decision. And it is amazing what you can grow in pots!

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  5. Don't feel guilty, see it as letting someone else have a go. I'm sure you'll appreciate your garden at home more and find a manageable little space for home grown veg.

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  6. I had an allotment for 7 years and as life changed it became more of a worry than a pleasure - and too much time was spent weeding the weeds that had grown in place of the veggies. I still feel a pang of sadness when I drive past, but giving it up was the right thing for us at the time. My aim is to get one when I'm old and grey(er) and have more time to potter! It's amazing what veggies you can grow in pots though. Enjoy the feeling of relief XX

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    1. Thanks for that - we're going to try to grow as much as we can at home, painting the garden walls to reflect more light and thinning out overhanging branches. We shall see!

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    2. Blogger isn't letting me leave a normal comment so I am "replying" here instead. You haven't failed at all (and I REALLY believe that because if you have then so have I!!!) I think Ali hit the nail on the head when she said that allotments were good when your children are small enough to dig for worms with a stick and find it endlessly entertaining.

      I'm sad about giving up my allotment and I honestly wish I still HAD an allotment - but even more honestly I know I don't want to DO an allotment anymore and that's the significant point.

      And as for painting the walls, our garden positively shines now that the garage and kitchen walls are white and with the gravel paths and duck egg blue woodwork it looks like the beach!

      Good luck with your garden - it will be fabulous! Lucy xxx

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  7. That was a very honest bit of writing missus. Hard to say that you feel you are failing. But you do know that you have not failed, don't you? Life changes and now is not Allotment Time.
    And just think, now you don't have to be out in all this BLiNkiNg rain.
    Ax

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  8. what everyone else said. xxx and the tulips are lovely x

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  9. I don't think you have failed, in fact, I want to tell you well done. Well done for trying and well done for knowing when to call it a day. We cannot do everything, far too much pressure in daily life these days and sometimes the very bravest thing to do is to say no.

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  10. I gave mine up to and it was only at the bottom of my garden. It's incredibly hard work. Work I'd rather do in my own back yard, if you know what I mean? Onwards and upwards with the raised beds.

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  11. Not a failure at all. There is so much work needed to keep on top of it all - it's blooming hard work - and sometimes the hardest thing is making that decision, but I bet you feel like a weight has been lifted off of your shoulders.

    Nina x

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  12. So hard to know when to stop, sometimes. I think you're a pragmatic, sensible woman and good for you for letting it go. Don't beat yourself up about it, and carry on breathing. :0) But don't forget to treat yourself to tulips now and again.

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  13. You definitely did the right thing. I just wish I could convince G we should do the same. K x

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  14. Sounds like a good move Val. As many others have said it is hard to devote the time to caring for an allotment when family life is full on. It is amazing how much you can still grow in a garden space and much more fun nipping out to harvest a few bits in your jammies while the kettle is boiling.

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  15. I'm another who has given up an allotment. They kids were young and we thought it would be fun. It wasn't. Everyone around had the neatest allotments imaginable. We skulked off with our tails between our legs! Now just grow a few things at home.

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    1. Thanks, Fiona. It was the whole admitting that it wasn't fun and wasn't what I was expecting that was hardest. Maybe we'll do it again one day, but I think I may have got it out of my system now!

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  16. I have a confession. We have an allotment. It's at the edge of the village. We pay £5 a year rent. We never dig it. This is terrible. I am plagued with guilt but our idea was to get hold of this tiny plot and wait till the little ones were older and we were a little more free.

    Do NOT feel guilty about yours. You tried it. It didn't fit in with your life. There's no shame in that. It's incredibly hard work by all accounts - something that is a good deal easier when children have left home.

    I reckon you can only really have one serious hobby. Yours is craft.

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  17. We had an allotment which sounds like yours, such hard work and never anything to show for it. Luckily we found another one on a different plot which is totally different and I am hoping it will work out better - only time will tell. You really are fighting against the elements when you take on an allotment aren't you, don't feel bad it is hard work to get an allotment working well and when you have little kids , my father in law doesn't think it can be done unless you are retired :-s x

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  18. I would post some pictures of my awful mess of a garden if I thought that it would make you feel better. My husband did do a random planting of carrots and parsnips (at completely the wrong time of year). Being California, they still grew anyway - all wonky and bedraggled. Being California, pretty much everything grows well, though: weeds are sprouting up everywhere and a couple of the plants have gone on the rampage. I'm in awe of anyone that takes on an allotment, even if for a couple of years.

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  19. They are so much work and if it's not fun then there are better things to do with your time. If I had space to grow veggies in the garden I'd give mine up to loose the feeling of guilt that it is always weedy and rather neglected.

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