"We must cultivate our garden" - Candide, Voltaire
When Dani first showed me two plots on the Moor Green site in 2019 I was so excited, (I even missed the first night of a camping trip to get onsite and secure a plot). September 2019 was full of hope when we were given the go ahead for plot 231 - we couldn't wait to get started.
We decided to share the plot with friends who were equally as excited. The prospect of sharing in the growing and harvesting was a lovely thought, but also that more hands make lighter work of the clearing of weeds and getting rid of the plentiful debris we found on the plot. We had many trips to the dump!
I have to say the excitement was also accompanied by feeling overwhelmed. I have a diploma in horticulture and I work part-time as a gardener, so I was well aware of the back breaking mission ahead. 'To dig or not to dig' was not the question... it just had to be dug over as there was so much couch grass.
To help reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed I just began digging a small part at the front section of the plot. Just being able to see the earth and possibility helped.
I started small and I got some onions and garlic in at the front. Jon our neighbour gave us some Heuchera propagules to plant up, and I revived some plants that had lay forgotten in pots and planted them up in the front too. One section done! It felt good to have started and that something was in the ground and growing.
We continued very much in this way, in sections and building beds and borders and we soon worked our way back through the plot. We still haven't managed to clear the whole plot as Covid restrictions scuppered our plans in March and the many hands on site just couldn't happen.
However, we have achieved a great deal and we have grown lots which is the main goal. We inherited some beautiful things as well as 'taller than me weeds', such as beautiful apple and plum trees, raspberries, greengages, and rose bushes.
I have to say the whole community has been amazing - we have been welcomed and although we're newbies, we feel everyone has been more than happy to help with guidance, support, freebies and top tips!
It hasn't always been easy to work out where everything is on site, where /when everything happens /gets organised - but a simple ask of your neighbours or the many stalwarts of the allotment life here and you soon find out. Just ask is my advice.
During these past months spent on Plot 231, I've spent time simply digging over, weeding, sowing seeds, listening to buzzing bees, enjoying the quiet, the conviviality of chatting with fellow plot holders and it has been a place of solace... AND MANY MANY COURGETTES!!
I think it's such a valuable a place to be. I have really enjoyed showing my son how to grow, and for us to be enveloped in nature in a big city has been lovely, simply watching him picking the pea pods and eating peas straight from the plant, the children have been the chief ripe tomato pickers, and masters of picking (and eating) blackberries from the bush.
I hope my son still enjoys it in the Winter!