Slow painting

Monday 17 September 2012

Decision time

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. 


Martin and Amy said...

It would be a real shame if you had to give up the plot.

It is very easy to get carried away with other things, but I always find a visit to our plot to be completly satisfying and a complete break from everything. Amy says that she feels like she is in another country when we visit, not just down the road.

Good Luck!


Sue Garrett said...

You should get plenty of tiny new blackcurrant bushes Linda.

The weed control membrane has certainly helped us. IT is a bit of a balancing act keeping the plot in order and having time to do other things.

Peggy said...

Hi Linda, reading other blogs and our own experience this year we all seem to have struggled to make enough time for the plots and even less for blogging!our lives take different paths and we have to go with them.We have had a covered strawberry bed for 3 years now and it makes life so much easier, keeps down the weeds and the fruit is clean and off the ground and no clearing of mulch material at the end of the season.

Mal's Allotment said...

Hi Linda, I need Edinburgh allotment allies so for goodness sake stop this nonsense about giving up. Our daughter returned from 3 years in Japan (Tsunami thrown in, it seemed, to torment anxious parents). Now all our children have driving licences (one provisional) and yet the plot has been an anchor for one redundant Dad (Along with the dog out daughter insisted we adopt from the rescue). I still struggle with the weeds at the plot, and like you (and Sue) will be deploying weed suppressant fabric over a large area of strawberry patch next year. Please keep us posted on your progress. Comparing notes is a real encouragement, so keep it up. Mal

Linda said...

Martin and Amy, you're right, the plot is a real escape. We love it when we're there, it's just the getting there that's our problem.

I'll look out for the tiny bushes, Sue, and see if any other plotholders could use them.

Hi Peggy, it does seem to have been a difficult year all round. Not getting stressed about things undone is the key I guess.
We weren't enthralled by the hay experiment. Even in our incredibly wet summer it seemed to dry out the strawberry plants, while still leaving the soil soggy underneath. I'm coming round to the idea of a black membrane instead.

Thank you for the encouragement, Mal. Plotholders v. the Enemy, eh? We certainly don't want to give up, but we don't want the plot to become a chore rather than enjoyment. Visiting other blogs helps keep the allotment spirits up, so I'll be visiting to see what you've been up to - did I catch sight of some courgettes?

Mark Willis said...

If you give up the plot you'll have to be really sure that you're doing the right thing. Getting another plot at a later date might be a very protracted affair. Your support / protection arrangements for the broccoli are exactly like mine. Hope they work for you. Mine are mostly to deter foxes rather than pigeons, which if I remember rightly gave you big problems last year.

Kris said...

Lovely to see a post from you, Linda. Your wet year, our dry year has both have us re-evaluating the gardens. I'm glad you're giving your lot a 2-year trial before, perhaps, giving it up. I know how you enjoy it and you can't beat home grown veg. Fingers crossed for both of us.

Kelli said...

Its been a tough year for growing which doesn't help. Hopefully the next two years will be easier and more productive. Its work, but work in a good way huh.

Linda said...

Mark, the waiting lists are between 5 and 7 years long. But depending on how our plans work out we would be have a big garden at some point in the future - our problem is getting to the plot, so stepping out of the door to do a quick half hour of work would be a different matter altogether.

Kris, having a challenge makes us more motivated! You've certainly had a challenging year.

Kelli, it's much cheaper than a gym membership!

Powell River Books said...

Hi Linda - Thanks for stopping by to comment on my post about Harrison Lake BC. I have a silly question. Is an allotment kind of like a community garden where you can plant but don't own the land? My garden is on a cedar log float. Only four raised beds, but I can grow quite a bit in the small space plus some barrels for potatoes, garlic, peas and beans. I don't try any winter gardening. It just gets too cold for things to grow, but I do leave my carrots in the ground until I need them. They last pretty well until March or so. - Margy

joy said...

Wow, you are very good in gardening.
Anyway, my youngest left home to study in mexico , but my life is not boring at all. I have so much things to do and life is wonderful at fifty. Thanks for visiting:)

clairz said...

I have always wondered about how far this garden plot is located from your home. Is there any space for growing in the yard where you live?

Fay McKenzie said...

I don't think you're alone wondering where the time goes when the flee the coup. I'm all for more ground cover and hoodwinking the weeds by any means. Goodluck with it all, hopefully you'll tame it but this years weather has been so poor - its a wonder anything got weeded!

L. D. said...

I totally understand how various new and different things can take place in your life and time becomes a premium. I gave up the vegetable garden for now but will return when certain things change to give me back the time.