Real Men Sow

An Open Letter to Will: Don’t Give Up!

Hey Will,

How’s things?

I’ve heard a whisper that you’re thinking of jacking your allotment in already. I’m writing to try and talk you out of it.

It’s been a crap year. Really crap. I’d hate to have been a beginner this year. I wanted to write and say that growing your own is not always like this. Its actually normally the opposite.

In a normal year, tomatoes don’t get blight. Potatoes don’t rot in the sodden ground. Courgettes are the easiest, most productive veg you could ask for. Chillis ripen. Carrots germinate. Squashes don’t split. Etc, etc, etc.

One thing I’m sure know already, is that thing called the sun also comes out more. The temperature is warmer. The climate is not ridiculously warm in spring, and cold and wet during the summer. Y’know, the weather is steady, and allows for measured vegetable growth, rather than unusually early spurts, or no growth at all in the case of some seeds.

See, I’m a fairly average gardener, yet for the last four years I’ve successfully fed myself the best food I’ve ever tasted. I’ve never had to try much harder than stick a seed in the ground, water a bit, keeps the weeds down and in a few weeks you have something awesome to eat.

I know it seems really tough at the moment, but the chances are next year won’t be anywhere near as tricky as this one. Anyone can run an allotment, and it’s the best thing ever.

This year, I’ve had rubbish beets (beets are never rubbish!), caulis, courgettes, squashes, cucumbers, runner beans, mangetout, peas, broad beans, garlic and tomatoes. The only stuff that has been fairly decent are leeks, potatoes, strawberries and French beans. Everything else has been average or worse.

Wandering around our plots, chatting to other allotment holders suggests this is pretty standard fare for this year.

So, I guess I’m trying to say its not just you. We’ve all been victims of the dodgy weather. However, aside from the tasty produce, the best thing about growing your own is that there is always next year.

Please stick with your allotment. You really won’t regret it. Just write this year off, clear up and dump some manure on the beds and get stuck into a seed catalogue. Have the winter off and get going again in spring.

You’re a really organised, methodical bloke, so you’re bound to be really good at GYO. I bet you your 2013 seed packets that you’ll feel completely different this time next year.



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  1. AdamOctober 21, 2012 at 9:49 pmReply

    My first year this year and I can’t say it was a huge success! However I have found out that I quite like Kale, which is handy as it actually grew! Runner beans are quite prolific and salad is easy and very satisfying to grow.

  2. 5ollyOctober 21, 2012 at 10:28 pmReply

    haha. i need this for people i know. myself included!

  3. Jono

    JonoOctober 22, 2012 at 7:47 pmReplyAuthor

    Stick with the kale Adam, its really underrated and will last right through winter too. Great stuff.

    But you’re funny with the failure Olly, so its okay. :)

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About Real Men Sow

meIn 2007, I took on a redundant allotment plot with my gardening-mad mum Jan. As all good mums do, she went along with it, but I don’t think she held out much hope. However, over a decade later, and she now lets me do stuff without watching over my shoulder, so I must be doing something right. [ read more ]

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