A couple of months ago we were delighted to be asked to share an allotment with a friend and her young daughters. It was too much work for her to maintain the plot so we eagerly agreed to share it.
We have also taken on the school allotment due to the retirement of the teacher who looked after it. She is a gardening legend who has been very generous with her advice and tolerant of all my questions. You see we are fairly novice gardeners and only usually grow as much as we can in our back garden. Taking on two allotments has been a rather steep learning curve and we have realised it requires rather a lot of work. Be at as it may we are undaunted and determined to maintain both plots and will be
badgering friends asking for help from those keen to help out and grow produce to feed their families.
Planting, weeding and watering two large allotment plots is a lot of work and whilst we are novices we're keen to learn and are in it for the long term no matter how hard it is. Some years will be better than others as far as weather and harvests go. We didn't want the school to lose an important resource, there are long waiting lists for allotments and if the school had relinquished it's plot it is unlikely the school would've been able to secure another later on.
We're very glad of the extra growing space we've acquired as we found ourselves with far too many seedlings to fit on our shared allotment. We still need more seedlings but after tweeting about it a lovely bloke who owns a bakery in Huntingdon has offered to donate some seedlings. I shall blog about that later.
Gardening is hard physical work and most people don't realise exactly how much until they give it a go. I have been hauling two 10 litre watering cans back and forth from the water trough up to 20 times in total to water both allotments. It is exhausting! No wonder there are quite a few people who give up allotments after the first year. We spend at least an hour or two each weekend weeding and checking on the plants too. Yes it is hard fitting it in with our busy family life but our 3 children really enjoy being out in the fresh air digging, watering and finding minibeasts to study. The allotment fees on our site are £18 per year, much cheaper than a gym membership and you get fresh organic produce to eat too.
Growing your own produce takes a lot of energy but is well worth the effort. It teaches us perseverance which is in short supply due to our society where instant gratification is commonplace. We are determined to ensure that our children, and those who visit the school allotment, know where their food comes from and how much work goes into producing it. Hopefully they'll want to grow their own and waste less food once they know how hard it is to produce. I shall blog about our harvests and what is (and isn't) growing well later.