Roger and I took on our first allotment in June 2003. Jo (Roger’s daughter), wanted to grow some vegetables in her very small garden and Roger said she really needed bigger space. Jo then got to work and found out about the allotments, we visited it with Richard and as I happened to be on holiday at the time, I went to the council one afternoon and when I left I was the proud tenant of my first allotment. Roger had previously had an allotment when Jo and her brother were small. It was on the bottom terrace (where Terel is I think). But due to work etc he had to give it up.
Anyway, it took 18 months to clear – everything was cleared manually with a fork and spade and we planted as we cleared. In October 2004 we were finally finished. We had a rather large mound of earth with poppie growing from it. We had been given a shed and because we then needed put it somewhere we just cleared this mound and stuck the shed on it rather than digging over it properly etc.
Ben, my oldest grandson, was born when Roger was planting potatoes on Good Friday in April 2004. Ben’s nickname, on occasions, is Spud!
A couple of years’s later Roger wanted to get the plot next to us to grow fruit bushes etc and more vegetables and have space for our grandchildren to play on. So, I rang the council and got the second one straight away.
We grow and have tried to grow all sorts – potatoes, climbing french and dwarf beans, runner beans, peas, broccoli, cabbage, parsnips, cauliflower, sweetcorn, butternut squash, pumpkins, leeks, onions, tomatoes, beetroot, chillies, peppers, lettuce, aubergines, courgettes, loganberries, blackberries, raspberries, blackcurrants, redcurrants, whitecurrants, gooseberries, and the list goes on.
Roger also brought lots of plants from shops that were reduced or being thrown out and they have simply thrived on the allotment. The best thing for me, is a yellow rose bush from teh £1 shop which has the most heavenly smell.
I didn’t like parsnips before but at the age of 40 or so, I realised how good they tasted – simply because we had grown them. They tasted so sweet.
I make my own jam – haven’t brought a jar of jam in about 5 years.
I give lots of veg to my Mum, neighbours and friends. And it’s very much appreciated and creates quite a talking point. I have a friend at the hospital who puts her annual order in for the largest courgette or marrow so that she can use it to stuff it with mince. Also, many friends ambush me for the beetroot that Roger grows.
Even the time it takes to pod peas, or peel the runner beans is still worth it. Even people who don’t have an allotment are always very interested.
We have made friends with many other plot holders over the years – some are still there and some have gone. We’ve enjoyed a few barbequess, a beer or glass of wine or two and swapped stories.
One great event was the Elton John concert back in the summer 5/6 years ago- long before the flats were built on the stadium. My family came up from Hastings, Roger’s family came along – we had a really good time, dancing on the allotments. It didn’t matter that we couldn’t see Elton – but we sure could hear him.
So things like this or just a simple chat over a cuppa from a flask discussing the intricacies of growing tomatoes or how to stop white fly make it so much nicer and more fun.
If we lose the allotment, Roger, myself, Jo, Ed, Ben, Ethan and Alfie will be very sad. I hope it doesn’t happen.