How can it have been more difficult to get to the allotment in a summer where one 'child' has spent 2 months in Nepal, and the other has divided her time between France, Greece and working? And now that they're both away at university (although only very recently), we still don't seem to have found the time. Work, visitors, time spent as a family and time spent preparing for departures - all have taken priority over working at the plot.
We've made some small gains, despite our hectic summer. Onions and shallots have been harvested, such as they were. The hay (our pseudo straw) has been cleared from the strawberry bed and the old growth cut off. Leeks have been planted, and are coming along oh so slowly. The blackcurrant crop has been appreciated by the birds, and the fallen berries are creating a rich mulch beneath the bushes.
For the moment, the kale, broccoli and spring cabbage are holding their own beneath the bird netting. Some signs of snail attack, and a healthy underplanting of grass which I'm gradually and painstakingly clearing by hand. The soil has been too wet to use the hoe, so hand-weeding is the only option.
The old strawberry bed has become completely overgrown with grass, so to give ourselves an easier time we've covered some of it in light-stop membrane which I unearthed from the shed - ordered in 2004 and never used.
At our last visit a couple of weeks ago we came to a decision: we're going to give the plot two more years, during which time we'll aim to have it productive and in order. If at the end of that time we're still struggling for time, we'll give it up. Longer term plans are beginning to take shape now that the children have finished school, and we want to have time to work towards these.