For the past 2 years I’ve been away for all the major holidays but this year I decided to stay home and spend time working on the family allotment. Steve had this plot on Spring Road for 10 years, he really enjoyed growing vegetables, he even kept his bees there.
After he died I was determined to keep it going, even though all the odds were stacked against me, the local council didn’t want to transfer the plot into my name and I'd never kept an allotment before.
In the midst of my grief my son, brother and sister in law from California spent 2 days cutting back all the weeds, lifting the soil ready for spring but that was 2 years ago. Since then it's been neglected and the weeds soon grew back.
But this year things were different, I had time and space in my head to give this a go. The first thing was to order a new shed, the old one was leaning at a precarious 45-degree angle. The new bigger shed arrives this Thursday. I'm really looking forward to having a place to hang out, to drink a glass of wine and sit and watch the sunset but.... there’s lots of work to do first.
For 4 days over Easter, I cleared a 20 x 20 feet area. I filled 8 wheelbarrows of weeds. I literally sat on the earth, in the warm soil and pulled up all weeds around me and when that area was clear I moved onto the next patch.
Fortunately I’m only a short walk to the allotment and each day I could see an improvement. I didn’t mind getting muddy, my clothes would go in the washing machine. But as I walked home I was preying that I wouldn’t meet someone on the street with my dirty moustached face. The soil is very sandy, it gets under your fingernails and as for my feet, I'm still scrubbing off the dirt after 3 baths!
But what an achievement, one of the allotment committee members commented, “we’ll make a gardener out of you yet!” I’m not so sure!
I have no idea whether I’ll be able to keep this up, especially as I plan to go travelling for 6 weeks in the summer. Luckily my son who lives locally is interested helping with the allotment.
Just before I left today, I planted 2 rows of dahlia bulbs. If they grow they’ll make a colourful flower edge at the bottom of the plot.
In a few weeks’ time, I’ll plant 4 rows of sweetcorn, tall plants to hide any overgrown spots. I want an easy life this first year.
A very different Easter for me, I’m normally a social animal out with friends but working the soil with bare hands was therapy, the tiredness from physical activity gave me a sense of purpose too.
Yet at a deeper, subconscious level during one of my Easter morning meditations, I started to cry, big tears. I recognised that I was feeling sorry for myself, sad that I didn't have a loved one to talk to, to sit next to on the settee, to share my thoughts after a hard day of physical work. I made a decision to let those thoughts go, they're natural but I won't let them grow.
Holidays can magnify separation and loss but where we focus our attention is optional. My intent is to grow piles of sweetcorn to give away to all my friends. So if you live near me, you’ll need to research sweetcorn recipes.
Thanks for reading this.
I’d love to hear about your growing experiences.