Saturday marked six years of having the plot.
It’s been a ride. Six years ago, it was a half plot. It had a plum tree, two rhubarb crowns, some raspberries, lots of metal pipes and weeds, lots and lots of weeds.
We dug most of it over and by the end of May, we had some beds. That tiny bed behind the courgettes is the herb bed, it’s still there, but much bigger!
Since that first month, the plot has completely changed, we’ve built raised beds, grown food and flowers, learned about soil health, gained a shed, the other half of the plot, a polytunnel, I dug a pond!
I’ve learned to love tomatoes, Ma has learned to love butternut squash and sweet potatoes. We’ve become gardeners, accidentally no dig and sort of organic (I do use tomato feed but we don’t use weed or insect killers). I have a gardening style that drives Ma nuts, it’s letting plants I like seed where they want in the paths and Ma would like to kill everything in the paths!
It’s changed how we eat, how we feel about agriculture and food policy and poverty, it’s not always perfect or easy and it’s not cheap. I once said that an allotment will take all your time and all your money and I stand by that. Sometimes things don’t work and we have to pivot.
Overall, it has improved my mental health, that could be because of dirt, or being outside or having something to care for (some people have pets, I have a plot!). It could be the massive amount of achievement I feel when I look at this space. From what it was to what it is.
Of course, like everything in life, I didn’t do this alone. Ma has discovered a love of gardening, she didn’t know she had, which she must have got from her Grandad George, he was a market gardener and the man who named two of his daughters after what what blooming in his garden when they were born (Iris and Violet). She’s been amazing, even if she sometimes confuses plants for weeds.
The shed went up with the help of Adam and Mike and Christelle. The polytunnel thanks to Sue and Richard. Jonny gave me plants, Kathy bought me tools, the herb garden was thanks to Christelle. The first tomatoes I grew were a gift.
So it wasn’t all me. I’m still really proud of what we turned this into. Six years ago, didn’t know what I was doing. Today, I’m a gardener and this is my garden.