This week, Tom at the very funny Hapless Gardener blog posted about the state of his lawn. Tom opened up and admitted that his lawn was ‘embarrassing’, and ‘…in desperate need of a tidy up’.
As I was reading Tom’s post, I started to think about the neatness (or un-neatness) of my allotment, and how interesting it is to spy on the style and condition of other people’s plots. It’s fascinating to take a walk around and try to second guess the plotholder’s character and experience by their allotment.
The Neat and Tidy People
There are a few very neat and tidy people down at the Burnham plots. I have to say that they put me to shame, and I take many an envious glance, admiring just how precise, logical and well-kept these allotments are.
And what’s more, everything seems to grow so well. Maybe it’s years of experience, maybe its military organisation, maybe it is a bit of both – but the plots look like slices of vegetable growing perfection.
There was no greater exception than the old boy just down from me, who sadly died last year. His grass was always cut and resembled a bowling green. There was never a single weed and all his veg looked healthy and prolific. I guess the older chaps have the time to keep on top of things, mostly being retired.
That said, there are some people who just ooze organisation and neatness. Merv, another nearby plotholder is like this. His half plot is pristine, and he claims he only ever spends a couple of hours a week down there. In fact, all I ever witness Merv doing is a little gentle raking on a Sunday morning whilst wishing me ‘Happy Gardening’ from down the row.
Maybe size matters – less is more when it comes to keeping on top of things, or maybe Merv’s a fibber and actually spends a lot more time at the allotment than he lets on…
The State of My Plot
My plot, on the other hand, always seems to be tarnished by one scruffy bed where I can’t quite keep up. At the moment, everything is weeded, dug, and looking ship shape for sowing except weeds in my containers (pictured) and all through the fruit bed. This is full of weed from where I’ve been focusing on preparing the other beds.
Solace comes from spotting that I’m now alone. A walk around quickly shows up those of us who don’t have as much time, or (whisper it) are a tad on the lazy side (yes, that’s me too…).
The Traditionalists and the Newbies
I also love spying on what people are growing. There are quite a few traditionalists around me, who stick to their staples: onions, greens, potatoes, and carrots. They know what they like, so they’re not messing around. If you can’t eat it with a pork chop, it doesn’t make the cut.
At the other end of the spectrum are the enthusiastic newbies, who grow anything that they can get their hands on at the garden centre. I remember this time fondly, although it almost bankrupted me. I was like a kid in a sweetshop. On my first trip to the garden centre, I spent over fifty quid on seeds.
What Am I?
Somewhere in the middle of these two allotment types is me. After last year’s money-saving experiment, I’m beginning to focus on what is good for me to grow, like the traditionalists. I’m starting to grow more of what we enjoy eating, rather than using up space for rarely used, cheap to buy veg like carrots.
At the same time, I still get excited by buying seeds and trying out new stuff, just like I did when I started out. I love growing different squashes, which are rare on our plots, and the two favourite new veg I grew last year were the delicious cavolo nero, and the hardy, spiky oriental greens.
As I sit on my allotment bench, I’m left to wonder what this all means in relation to me and my plot. What am I, in the grand allotment scheme? I’m fairly conventional, but am I untidy? Lazy? A man with too big a plot? Do I have unrealistic expectations?
Or maybe I should coin a term? Could I be a Newbalitionalist? A Trad-Newb? Newbytrad?
A New Traditionalist?
Hmmm. I could go on. Perhaps I’ll just say I grow veg, and get on with that weeding.