I know I said I don’t grow edibles but………….!

I suspect I have caused much merriment and consternation amongst many of my gardening twitter friends over the last week and now no doubt those of you who have read this blog for some time will be amused at my U turn.  I have repeatedly stated that I don’t grow edibles for a variety of reasons: space and time being the main ones.  However, I have had a quietly burning desire to tackle edibles if only I had some practical space to work in.  I know I could give up some of my garden but I need my ornamentals, they are essential for my mental well being. 

Anyway, some years back I put my name down for an allotment and then promptly forgot about it.  I knew that there was a waiting list for local sites in addition to which one site needed relocation so the adjacent cemetery could expand!  For I had low expectations that a plot would appear this decade. Time moved on, my interests in ornamentals grew, I started a blog and discovered like minded gardening friends.  I avoided the veg growing blogs/posts as I just couldn’t relate to them but I have had a growing feeling that I am missing out somehow.  I decided a couple of months ago to give over one bed in the garden to soft fruit and in fact only started planting it out two weeks ago. I also started to explore perennial edibles which would be less demanding time wise and fit better into a garden environment.

Bizarrely last week I began to think that someone was trying to point me in a new direction.  On my way back from Arley Arboretum I saw a nursery for lease.  I would love a nursery but I just can’t afford to give up my full time job at the moment to embrace my dreams.  I looked at the details but it was just unrealistic – oh well never mind.  Then two days later a letter arrived from the local council offering me a plot on a new site.  I put the letter on the table thinking ‘well I won’t be doing that’.  But the letter kept winking at me from the dining room, taunting me.  ‘Go on, you know you will regret it…’ ‘You dont have to sort the whole plot in one go….’ ‘You could grow lots of soft fruit…..’ etc etc.  By early Sunday morning I was tittering on the brink of giving in and went off to find the site.

Well the location pushed me over the edge into saying yes.  It is a lovely rural location, surrounded by fields with far reaching views – all good for the soul and therefore good for me.  I finally got more information on Monday morning when the council opened –  I  could choose between a 125sqm plot for £25 p.a. or a 60sqm plot (at a pro rata rate).  I bored my twitter friends rigid with endless questions about the best size and what I should pay etc. Early Tuesday morning saw me back at the site in my suit and wellies choosing between two sites.  The photo at the top of the post shows my new allotment – Plot 38.

I am now completely overwhelmed by the prospect.  The plot is 125sqm in size, we need to measure it properly so I can work out bed sizes etc.  I have again bored twitter friends with what was the best size beds etc etc and they have been very patient and generous with their advice and support.  I hope they realise that I will be pestering them from time to time every time I get to a hurdle!!

So the allotment books are in the post and my dreams are full of soft fruits, courgettes, sweetcorn, new potatoes, mangetout, sweet peas and so much else.

I have been toying with setting up a new blog to record my progress particularly as I have been frustrated that whilst there are lots of blogs etc about growing edibles there isn’t much out there that charts a novice’s progress, well not that I have found.  I still haven’t decided if I will do this or whether I will just do regular up dates on this blog.  But it is a very exciting new project for me and I hope you will enjoy reading about my progress.


21 Comments Add yours

  1. That’s fantastic! I’m jealous – still on a waiting list – but, fantastic! And I agree there is not much out there about starting from scratch – at least, there is, but they all started years ago… Good luck and watch your back!

  2. p3chandan says:

    Congrats on your new plot of land! I can imagine you are pretty excited to start planting just like me when I started my own small vegetable garden. But wait till harvesting time comes, you will be so proud of yourself! Happy Gardening…

  3. Sylvia (England) says:

    I am so glad that you took the plot, I am sure you wouldn’t regret it (well perhaps occasionally!), I also think you did the right thing in getting the larger plot. Don’t forget you are not in a race with the other plot holders to get it all filled, though do cover the ground (green manure?) to stop the weeds. I am jealous but my husband would go mad if I even thought of putting my name down and I do have a small veg plot at home. I do hope that we will get a piece by piece account of your adventure either here or a new blog – I enjoy sharing gardening adventures with people around the world.

    Have fun, best wishes Sylvia

  4. hillwards says:

    Hi, I’ve only recently discovered your blog (and the world of garden blogging at all is still relatively new to me!) but I think your new allotment sounds/looks amazing. This was our first proper year at growing our own veg (we tried last year but large diggers put an end to most of the garden during building work!), and we planted raspberry canes, strawberries and a couple of apple espaliers just last winter so they are still establishing too. It has been a very rewarding year. Inversely to your situation, we have our edible part of the garden mostly established now, it’s the ornamental side that we have yet to start, pending removal of lots of building debris! We’re very much novices in both areas, so I’m looking forward to following your progress too. 🙂 Sara

  5. oooh! Congratulations! You won’t regret it, I promise you. The only problem you may have is that once you’ve started growing veggies it takes over your whole life. I am in the process of giving up my allotment: not because I haven’t enjoyed it – I have, every minute of it – but because in the end it just wasn’t enough room for what I wanted to do. So I ended up moving house because I got an allotment. You have been warned 😀

  6. Congratulation Helen! I look forward to seeing your new adventure recorded here or in your new blog. ;>)

  7. Sandra Jonas says:

    Helen, you are going to love it, not to mention the flavor (and nutrient content) will exceed anything you could ever buy at the store. Keep me posted on your progress.
    I designed my husband’s potager along the lines of Rosemary Very’s. though not as elaborate. The beds are no more than 4′-5′ wide so it can be tended from both sides without stepping into them and compacting the soil.
    Have fun!!

  8. Liz says:


    Good luck with the new plot, what a massive amount of work – I don’t envy you, must admit… My few pots of raspberries, strawberries and tomatoes is quite enough for me.

    I hope you have a great time working with it, I’m sure it’ll all become very easy, especially once you get past the first year 🙂

  9. easygardener says:

    I like both kinds of gardening – flowers and vegetables. They satisfy different impulses.
    The main thing about allotment gardening is doing it regularly – even if it is only for a short visit, say an hour. Leaving long periods between visits means the work becomes overwhelming and the pleasure goes out of it. Good luck!

  10. Anna says:

    Oh how deliciously exciting Helen. Welcome to the club! What perfect timing – you have all winter now to prepare and plan and dream and spring will be here before you know it 🙂 Look forward to hearing much more about Plot 38.

  11. Jamie says:

    Wow! Wonderful news, Helen.
    My little garden is just 63 square metres in total, so that 125 square metres of yours sounds so luxuriously big to me. Looks like a sunny spot, perfect for edibles. Good luck, and I also look forward to hearing more about the Patient Plotter’s garden, er, I mean the Patient Gardener’s plot.

  12. elizabethm says:

    Yes! You have come over to the yummy side! This is so exciting and I am sure you will love it. I can’t imagine not doing both edibles and flowers and if you made me choose I would tie myself in knots and end up shooting myself. It will be fab.

  13. Becky says:

    I wish you the best with your new edible allotment. Don’t forget herbs although most of my herbs are mixed in with the ornamentals. Actually some of the lettuce now is a pretty as a rose.

  14. oh Helen, i can smell the fresh air from here! my advice? buy lots and lots of bathbubbles for those after-allotment soaks in the bath tub…oh and sell the hubby and kids and buy a shed instead….

  15. Tatyana says:

    Congratulations!!! It is a beginning of a new life!(one voice). Now, you won’t have any spare time, even for blogging (another voice). Go for it Helen! Just start from something ‘easy’!

  16. Jean says:

    Congratulations, Helen! I share other commenters’ sense of excitement about your new adventure. Now you’ll be reading those veg garden blogs with a new eye. You might take a look at Grafixmuse’s Garden Spot (http://grafixmusegardenspot.blogspot.com/). Although her climate conditions are different from yours (she is a neighbor of mine in Maine), she always includes lots of detail about the techniques she is using, the planting plans for her various plots, and the results.

  17. Christina says:

    You won’t regret taking on your allotment! But do cover the parts of the soil you’re not using, even dare I say it with black plastic. Also don’t be tempted you use a rotavator; all you’ll do is cut up the perennial weeds and more will come up from each small piece. Also I recommend 1.2 m (4 ft) wide beds, again try to cover the paths with something, anything so that all you work, water, and compost goes into the bed you want to cultivate and not the paths. Having a bed system means you won’t become daunted by the amount of work to be done. One bed of 1.2 m x the width of the plot can always be weeded in one short session. I loved my allotment when I lived in the UK. I do hope it’s close to home otherwise the temptation is just not to go. Good luck and enjoy.

  18. Helen this is great news! I’m so glad that you have come to your senses. What a great process you have in front of you. This will be so lovely to follow . Congratulations


  19. alderandash says:

    What a lovely spot. Happy planting (and eating!)

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