My first allotment

Years ago my friend Morag asked if I wanted to share an allotment space with her, and I agreed. I had never grown my own food, and I had no idea about how much work would be involved. At that point in time allotments had fallen out of favour and so we had the choice of plots. We started digging over a plot that hadn’t seen a spade or fork in years, and Derek the retired gentleman in the next plot encouraged us with advice, seeds, a bag of seed potatoes, and a half can of Boddingtons his wife would bring at the end of each afternoon.

Every few days I would cycle to the allotment with my second hand spade and fork bought at a car boot sale strapped to the crossbar of my bike with a basket hanging on the front. I’ve still got that same basket although the bike has changed over the years. Morag gave up pretty quickly, the distance and time commitment was more than either of us anticipated, but I carried on and that first year I would bring back baskets of food on the bike. I quickly learnt how fast courgettes can become marrows, overnight in one case, how big a radish can grow and how potatoes are great for breaking down the soil doing the work for you!

There were only about 8 of us with plots at that point, few people wanted them and most plots had laid dormant for years. The following year the other plot owners on the allotment asked if I wanted the plot behind the one I had as well as the one I had painstakingly worked the previous year. This one had a shed, no more having to carry my tools on my bike and in a rucksack each time, I would finally be able to leave them on the plot. They also told me this time I could borrow their Rotavator! Clearly, I had passed their entrance exam, and I wasn’t expected to hand-dig the next plot!

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