Dear John….The Sequel

site of the new veg bed
Site of the new veg bed

The other day I wrote a post while trying to work through some thoughts about my allotment and it seems to have struck a chord with many.  I talked about how I was struggling with the allotment mainly due to the pressure of time and also the distance of the plot from home.  I was really pleased to receive so many supportive comments.

Many of you were right in that by the time I had got to the end of the post I was 90% sure that the allotment and I should part company.  I have been to the plot a couple of times since writing the post and there has been no feeling of guilt or regret.  In fact as if the allotment wanted to help me make the decision I discovered that the whole bed of 12 tomato plants had been hit  by blight and there were only four possibly salvageable tomatoes. This is on top of potato blight, garlic rust, and slugs a plenty.  Oh  and the salads bolted and had to be discarded.

Anna commented that she enjoyed the social side of her plot and this had kept her going when times were tough.  However, I don’t enjoy the social side.  I spend all week with people talking at me at work and so crave peace and quiet in my non-work time.  This is probably why I go to the plot so early in the morning.  I don’t like all the politics there is enough of that at work.

So within 24 hours of writing the post I had told my parents.  Ridiculous I know at my age but they had helped me so much in setting it up that I wanted to explain to them.  They were absolutely fine and said they thought I was trying to do too much.  A weight has lifted and I feel so relieved.

Attention has now turned to the garden.  I have identified an area which has always lacked an identity – its call the corner bed which says it all and my son and I have been measuring up.  I have explored the ideas of square foot gardening and although I’m not sure I want to grow veg in this way I do really think that a 4′ x 4′ raised bed will do me for a while.  I can grow salads in it, maybe a small row of mangetout, a few carvelo nero and nice things like florence fennel and pak choi which would benefit from closure monitoring than I can give them at the plot.

My new approach is to not grow large  quantities  of veg and fruit that dictate what we eat but to grow small  amounts of home-grown treats.  Things that I will really look forward to and savour.  They might be over quickly but I will have enjoyed them rather than beginning to wish for the crop to stop and being weary of finding ways to cook courgettes.  I want to enjoy growing edibles as part of the overall garden rather than compartmentalized.  I want to pop out in the garden in the morning and pick some salad leaves for my pack  lunch or a few strawberries for my breakfast.  I am also going to grow more in pots.  I have had huge success this year with cucumbers and courgettes in pots and I have some chinese cabbage seedlings which were destined for the plot which I shall pot up to see how they do.

And what of the plot?  I haven’t walked away yet as I want to move some of the fruit bushes back to the garden so need to wait until the autumn.  I think I have found homes for nearly everything on the plot and we can reuse much of the timber and weed suppressing membrane in the new vegetable area.  So the financial investment isn’t lost.

I don’t regret at all the last 2 years at the plot.  I have learnt loads.  I have learnt that I can grow veg and fruit but that they are definitely not my first love.  I have learnt that whilst I enjoy cooking it’s not to the extent of enjoying the challenge of preserving and finding interesting ways to cook the same veg day in and day out.  The plot has been cathartic  it has helped me work through difficult times, work off lots of anger digging weeds but I now find myself feeling better, calmer and more myself.  So thank you plot 38 its been great but its time to move on.

So here I  am excited at the new plans for the garden which will also mean that we can finally finish off the steps going up the garden which my son and I have been dithering about for a year  or two now.  Plus I can exactly enjoy a slow start to my Sunday, read my gardening magazine and not feel guilty about not being at the plot.

Thank you all for your support and positive  comments.


23 Comments Add yours

  1. Congratulations on all the time you will have for your garden – and time to ENJOY your garden.
    And growing veg as a treat is recommendable; I did that last year, and the peas were really lovely, and the beans made me smile just by looking at them.

  2. alison says:

    Just seeing all the pictures you have posted about your garden, I feel you have made the right decision for all the best and right reasons about parting company with your allotment. Now you can relax and enjoy your garden fully – and popping out to gather that bit of salad or veg for your tea after a hard day’s work.

  3. Judy says:

    Besides not having to travel to garden, you could probably step outside and pull a weed in more comfortable clothes with a coffee cup in your hand. Sounds like you have a good plan.

  4. wifemothergardener says:

    That sounds like a great decision. It is so hard to look after a garden that is not at your own location… I have tried it for friends and it never works out well. And it is surprising how much you can get from a very small garden veg patch. I have had to work through feeling guilty about not growing loads of veggies as well, since that is all that my friends grow! I need foliage and flowers, and that is that. If I am wasteful, I will waste my resources on beauty joyfully.

  5. Sandra Jonas says:

    Helen that is a wise decision for you, we are struggling with the same issue and our vegetable garden is right outside our door! Last year we cut it in half but I am still swamped. Might be time to cut back again.

    The rest of the garden needs time….time I ENJOY!

  6. Donna says:

    It’s funny but I had the feeling you were much more into flowers and pretty stuff gardening than growing vegies.
    Well done Helen, life’s too short!

  7. Lyn says:

    Your vegetable plan sounds great. I too like the idea of just growing special things and enjoying them fresh from the garden. I’ve given up my big vegie garden and am going to incorporate some decorative and delicious vegies in my other beds this Spring. I will buy my main vegetables form my local farmers market, where they are organic and fresh and also support local growers directly.

  8. Well I love the idea but of course it is exactly what I do..a few beds growing what I like to eat and just enough. I also like to be solitary in my garden as it is my solace…wonderful plans!

  9. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Yvonne – NZ – Enjoy your new garden at home! I still don’t know what mangenots are!! Are they a root veg?

  10. lindasgarden says:

    Congratulations on all the time you will have for your garden – and time to ENJOY your garden. I sure the new space will like you seeing to it happy garding at home Helen

  11. Yvonne Ryan says:

    Yvonne – NZ – Well they say you learn something every day!! I have just looked up Google and found out that mangetout are ‘snap peas’ or ‘sugar-snap peas’ drrrr – I always call them ‘sugar snap peas’!!!! I haven’t heard them called mangetout here! They are yum – mine are doing well in a reclycling bin (early spring) – although wind got them a bit and had to re-wind. Good luck! x

  12. Fantastic, Helen, a new phase with good lessons learnt behind you and a new use for a neglected corner ahead of you. Sounds as if you have worked your way towards a much better balance, and an approach that fits your life, rather than having to fit your life around the allotment. Good luck with the new adventure!

  13. hillwards says:

    So pleased that you have reconciled everything, with loads of exciting projects still looming large on the horizon. Your garden will be pleased to have your undivided attention too!

  14. Well done, Helen. It’s easy to feel that we should be able to fit everything in, if only we were organised enough, and then spend all our time rushing round, feeling guilty. Far better to do one thing really well, than two things badly.

  15. Anna says:

    Glad to hear that you have come to a decision Helen. You will now be able to concentrate on your first passion. I’m sure that you will have great fun fitting some veggies and fruit into your garden. I heard Alys Fowler talk yesterday at the Southport Flower Show and she appears to do this in style. Who knows but by the time you reach my advanced years you might return to the allotment 🙂

  16. Holleygarden says:

    I think that’s a very good decision. I have a large plot for growing vegetables, and a small raised bed, too. I’m often overwhelmed with the large plot, but the small raised bed is manageable. And as you say – it may not make enough to eat all year on, but it’s wonderful for treats throughout the year. And it’s amazing, really, how much can really be grown in a small area. Good luck with your new plans.

  17. Christina says:

    It is always good to come to a decision and to know oneself a little better by the decisions made. Christina

  18. elaine says:

    I see what you mean now re your comment on my blog. Although I love my plot I am sure I could easily manage without it – my small raised beds and containers could supply me with all my needs regarding veg. As age catches up with me giving up the plot is a distinct possibility. Good luck with your plans.

  19. YES! I am trapped in the – should try to grow your own – but I shop at Woolworths, organic where possible, otherwise Farming for the Future. The garden gives me herbs and foraged salad (nasturtiums and dandelion leaves, no work at all!)

  20. Simon Green says:

    Well done for making your decision! I’m a strong believer that most gardeners have two aims: to create something beautiful, and to have a calm space to get away and be yourself. If the allotment wasn’t bringing you this, you’re better off without it. 🙂

  21. offmotorway says:

    We have a very small amount of space for growing veg, but enjoy giving it a go without any sense of competition with other gardeners – surely one of the main joys of not having an allotment! I hope you enjoy your new plot!

Please feel free to leave comments as its always lovely to get feedback. I try to respond to comments as much as possible but sometimes life and work get in the way but I will do my best to respond especially if your comment is a question.

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