Saying goodbye to the allotment

Any one who has read this blog over the last couple of years will know I acquired an allotment in 2010.  A virgin site, basically part of a field which had previously been used for livestock.   As you can see from the above photograph the location of the site is lovely, surrounded by fields and there are  lots of birds, even quail.  I used to enjoy the peace early on a Sunday morning with just the horses in the neighbouring field for company.

However, as I said in a post back in August I have come to realise that deep down, despite trying very hard to be, I’m not a vegetable grower.  I can’t get excited about unusual vegetables, trying new vegetables and looking for ways to deal with the gluts.  It’s just not what floats my boat as they say.  I found myself resenting more and more the time the allotment was taking me away from my garden which in my mind is looking very neglected, although people are kind to say otherwise.  There are projects I want to undertake both in the garden and also in the house and these just haven’t been possible over the last two years due to the time needed to tend the allotment, especially given my limited free time due to a demanding job.


Since I made the decision in August to give up the allotment I have felt a huge weight come off me.  The daily worrying about when I can get to the plot, managing the crops, pests etc hasn’t been missed at all.  My head actually feels clearer and I have started to re-engage with the garden, taken up some new creative hobbies and am planning some much-needed interior redecoration.  I genuinely believe  that the majority of gardeners are either ornamental or vegetable gardeners.  I  have met many head gardeners who have pulled a face when you ask them about vegetables  just as there are many veg/edible growers who although they grow flowers on their plots aren’t as obsessive as I, and many of my gardener friends, are about ornamentals.  Each to his own I say and there is room for us all but I know now where my true passion lies.

I haven’t handed in my notice at the plot yet as I have been waiting to move some of the fruit bushes to  my garden.  I have also been unwell with a bad back and if I am really honest I haven’t wanted to go to the plot at all.  I’m not sure why.  There is part of me that has felt guilty at having got my family to help me and then giving up; there is part of me that  has felt a bit of a failure at not sticking to it; and there is part of me that has so disengaged with the plot that I have more or less forgotten about it.

Anyway, my Mum has used my lack of interest as an excuse to do some additional weeding when her own half plot is completely weeded.  She is one of those people who enjoys weeding and she loves being at the site, its her escape from difficult times and this alone is enough for me to know that I shouldn’t feel guilty or a failure as Mum discovering the allotment was worth it all.  She is keeping her half plot for the time being and has made lots of friends at the site, one of them leaves her love letters although my Dad knows about this so I don’t think I need to worry at all!

This weekend I decided that it was now or never and as my eldest  son was free to dismantle the raised bed and fruit bush supports it was an opportunity  not to miss.  Mum and Dad  came down to see which raspberry plants Mum could have and ended up moving them there and then. The four of us (my three helpers above) had a great hour or so.  I dug up the Japanese wineberry, a gooseberry, a blackberry and a rhubarb; collected up the assorted tools  and bits and pieces I wanted to keep.  It took four barrow loads to get everything up to the car and despite my conviction it wouldn’t all fit in the back of my car, my son proved me wrong – again.

I shan’t miss the muddy car interior that’s for sure.

All that’s left  to do now is to meet with my other son’s girlfriend’s parents who are going to take the rest of the fruit bushes and anything else they want and then I will lift the pathing material which I can reuse in the garden and hand in my notice.

Its been good – a fantastic learning curve, an escape in difficult times, a bonding exercise with my parents, a great journey if I must use that overused cliché.  However,  now I will move on and put all my efforts into my first love the garden remembering of course that Mum will always be quite happy for a bit of help  and a home for her surplus veg should I  need them.


Author: Helen Johnstone

I live in Malvern, Worcestershire and am a very keen gardener. I started the Patient Gardener Blog in January 2008 as a way of recording what was happening in my garden and connecting with other like-minded people. I started a second blog PatientGardener 365 January 2013 in order to try and post a photo a day to capture what is growing in my garden or places I have visited

28 thoughts on “Saying goodbye to the allotment”

  1. In a somewhat unconventional way you have used an allotment & your time tending it in a perfect way. Many of us have the will to try something different, few the courage to call it a day, on their own terms, when they feel they wish to.

  2. It is a relief to finally accomplish a task you’ve been putting off,and the helpers must have made it a great deal easier. Are you taking the berries home for your garden? I don’t see them in the car. Usually you’d see them with their leaves pressed up against the glass, all eager for a car ride.

    You can always grow some salad vegetables in pots in your home garden. That way you can have some fresh produce with a more reasonable maintenance schedule.

    1. Hi NS – the berries were in the car, am ashamed to say they were buried under the other stuff in bin bags. But in my defence they are all planted out properly in the garden now, fed and watered

  3. As you probably know although I love my flower garden – it is really the veg side that floats my boat. But I know that as I get olderI won’t probably be able to manage a large garden and a large allotment so I am preparing myself for giving up on it. As you say, I love being up there with just the birds for company early in the mornings. You have made the right decision for you and happy that you are now able to get on with other things that you enjoy more. p.s. love the lilac wheelbarrow.

    1. I love my lilac wheelbarrow too, got it so no one would pinch it and say it was theirs at the plot! Going to use at home some how despite steps and slope!!

  4. Aw it is a shame you have to give it up, but they are hard work. You can always find room for some interesting veggies in your garden, its surprising just where you can grow your own. I’m sure that whoever gets your plot will be so grateful as there is a real shortage of them. Enjoy your garden 🙂

    1. Hi Anna – I did initially think I would grow some interesting veg in the garden but to be honest I’m just not that interested in growing veg

  5. Hi Anna, know the feeling – we waited years for an allotment, and when it came up it, it coincided with opening a second deli, so was doomed from the start. It’s a lovely idea, but finding the time, and thinking about when you can’t see it directly out the door, is difficult. Don’t feel bad about it!

  6. Such a big area for really one person to eat off – far more sensible to have salades etc in a small area next to your house. I have recycling bins for this and find beans do well in the summer – No brassicas – too much room and white butterfly and really cheap in the shop. Our system was changed for recyling hence ‘stole’ about 10 bins. Toms do well also although found 1 was sufficient per bin as big root system. Have to water quite a lot as we get very warm here and they evaporate quite a bit. Good luck! (ps hope you feeling betterx)

  7. I had a similar experience when we took a plot in a nearby park. It was always neglected, in part because I always preferred to spend time on my ornamental garden at home. I hated feeling guilty that I was neglecting the vegetable plot, When the year was done I decided to give it up, and it was definitely the right decision.

  8. Mmm, you’ve made me think!
    I took on my allotment jointly with a friend- she was recovering from ME, & it was an important part of her recovery- but now she’s moved away, it’s really too big a commitment for me. I’ve also had 5 months of ill-health & allotment gone feral again, seems daunting to get it back together! You’ve definitely made me stop and re-assess!
    And I feel ENVIOUS of you planning to spend time in your garden…!! Enjoy!

  9. You got the opportunity to try something, you did it whole-heatedly and learned it is not for you. Nevertheless, it has clearly been a beneficial experience for you and your parents. When the time came to end it you have done it swiftly and without regret. A complete success I would say. So much better than to have wondered for years whether you ‘should’ have done it.

    The more I garden the more I think I’m in the ‘edibles’ camp. Nothing has given me more pleasure this year than to grow strong, healthy Brussels sprouts plants!

  10. Good for you. Looks like you’ve done a fabulous job on the allotment, congrats on that but especially well done on having the courage to recognise that it’s not floating your boat and to walk away from that hard work and achievement and let it go before you come to resent it.

  11. Allotments are very time consuming and physically tiring – the Digger does our main allotment while I do the flower garden and tend to a very small veg allotment just over our garden fence. I couldn’t do it all and while I really like growing some veg I’m not that interested in all of them. I think you made a wise decision to give up and it is nice that you inspired your mother to discover the joys of allotmenting!

  12. Learning something about ourselves is alwasy worthwhile. Veg growing is never easy, I actually do love doing vegetables and ornamentals. I’m sure you’ve made the right decision – it’s awful to have pressure to do something you don’t really like. Christina

  13. An emotional day no doubt Helen but I think that you should be leaving the allotment with your head held up high and without any guilt. It has played an important and positive part in your life and you have learned much in the process of setting it up from scratch. You have also provided your parents especially your mum by the sound of it with no doubt a much needed sanctuary, which they can continue to enjoy and care for. You can now devote your precious spare time to what you really enjoy sowing, growing and nurturing with the added benefit of the garden being on your doorstep, the kettle not far away plus you still have a source of fresh home grown produce. Perfick 🙂

  14. It must be a relief that it’s almost out of your hands, and you can move on without any guilt to continue concentrating on your own garden. A lot of good things have come out of your time on the allotment, for you and your family – and fruit bushes for all.

  15. Never feel guilty for giving it up Helen. I remember thinking you were exceptionally motivated in the first place to even attempt it with everything else in your life. Chalk it up to another learning experience & move on to the next. I am excited you are moving back to ornamentals since that is where my passion lies too. Can’t wait to see your new plans in action….

  16. Hello Helen – well, I know this is one year after you gave up the allotment, but I have only recently discovered your blog…and have only just started one of my own. I too feel a bit guilty about not growing edible crops – so it was a bit of a relief to see what you said about the different types of gardeners! I do like to grow salad crops – in pots. I have some lettuce – the ‘growing salad’ type – (following Monty Don’s advice) – I protect them with fleece or a plastic bell cloche, which works. The lovely thing about your own adjoining plot of land is that you can just go out there before breakfast – and see what’s what. I love that, it makes a good start to the day. I have thought about an allotment, but, no, there aren’t enough hours in the day. Looking forward to your next post!

  17. Hi I have just found your blog and am glad I did as I am recognising and feeling much of it with you.
    As for the allotment , I would just want to create a wild rambling colourful oasis that I could pretend was mine. I don’t own a garden or house. This kind of allotment use is frowned upon in my part of the world. Neat, orderly, productive and ever so hardly veiled competitiveness reigns. I would probably seek out A N Other who I could share it with as when my bi polar gets into a dark spiral I would feel guilt at neglecting it or depriving another of its potential to heal. I look forward to reading all your posts and wonder how you got on with the RHS course?

    1. Hi Charlie
      Thank you for popping by and I’m glad you like the blog. I did a couple of the RHS level 2 modules but had to do it by distance learning and I really wanted to learn more practically so I stopped the course. I go to more demonstrations and talks now and find that is better way to learn for me

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