I live on the Dengie Peninsula, a funny little bit of Essex, full of big fields, wide skies, desolate marshland, and two tributaries to the North Sea. It’s a million miles from The Only Way is Essex and all the other tired old stereotypes.
It’s not just the sailing, the fishing, and the wildlife that the river and estuary offer, and reading the touching story of Lia Leendertz’s bench on her great blog Midnight Rambling reminded me that it was the local river that provided me with my allotment bench, in the form of a lovely big lump of oak.
I was so lucky to find it, and me and Ailsa dragged the thing about half a mile over the sea wall and across the fields in pitch black, before collapsing at my parents’ house. The effort was well worth it though. In fact, the wood was such a large piece that it made three benches.
These benches aren’t the only useful item that I’ve picked up from the river. Although its not exactly the Jurassic Coast around here, there have been a few dead handy finds and forages over the past couple of years.
Shells to Keep Slugs Off My Crops
Each time I go fishing at Bradwell beach, I pick up a small bag of shells to put around potential snail snacks. Like using eggshells, I break up the shells and scatter them on the edge of beds and pots, as the snails don’t like crawling over the sharp bits.
I’m planning to use this as a manure on one of my beds this winter. On some days, you can’t move for bladderwrack in the river, and at low tide, there is plenty to forage for digging in and making feed with.
Driftwood Raised Beds
I made this raised bed using planks of wood found within a few metres of each other in a local creek. I couldn’t believe my luck, and once the wood dried out, it was perfect for its new job. In fact, the piece you can see in the top right of the bed was too perfect and is now a mantelpiece in my house.
My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw the prices some people were paying for rocks at my local garden centre. When I wanted some edging for a bed in the garden, I headed down to the river again and slung some rocks into a wheelbarrow. If you’re going to do this though, don’t take too many, as they offer habitat for creatures such as crabs.
Bradwell is the closest we’ve got to a storm beach here on the peninsular and the best place for intriguing, romantic flotsam like fishing nets. A bracing winter walk from the power station to St Peters on the Wall will often throw up nets of varying sizes, colours and materials.
The ones I’ve salvaged needed some repair, and the size of holes matched to the right pest, but they do look attractive on an allotment.
The sea is the best thing about living where I do, and there is something warm and satisfying about extending it to my plot. It’s a lovely feeling to be able to sit on my allotment bench and look out over the plot whilst drawing a connection between two of my favourite things.
Especially when it hasn’t cost me a penny….