January 2014. Another New Year. Never-ending rain and gale force winds feeling like winter will never end. I haven’t actually been to my allotment in several weeks – who’s to know if my polytunnel is still standing? Or the field has flooded?
Hopefully I’ll get a trip out there soon, and in the meantime I’ve contented myself with that essential task known to gardeners everywhere – settling down by the fire, slippers on with mug of tea and large slice of cake (gluten & dairy free, of course) to sort through my ever-growing collection of seeds to make plans for the season ahead.
I have to confess I very rarely buy seed or plants from a retailer. Most of mine have been accumulated as ‘free’ offers from gardening magazines, or swapped and traded between allotment friends. The same for tools and equipment: I am avid recycler – always finding a use for things that would otherwise go in the bin, or giving a new lease of life to items that other people no longer want (and are glad for me to take off their hands). On the rare occasion that I do actually buy something, it will very likely be at reduced price – end of season bargain or end of range. I am also a sucker for manufacturers promotions and giveaways (‘just send so many £s to cover postage) – my entire collection of fruit bushes has been accrued in this way; as have the vast selection of seeds that I have today spent a very happy couple of hours rummaging through, with my mind in overdrive making plans for the coming year.
I am lucky to now have a garden at home (since we moved in August) in addition to the two allotment plots – my original one (now in my fifth year) and a second plot, adjacent to the first, taken on just last year. My aim is to organise these three separate spaces to work together.
The first plot will remain a permanent home to my ever-increasing collection of fruit bushes and perennial vegetables such as the asparagus I planted last year.
The second plot I will use for rotations of annuals such as roots, legumes and brassicas – and also flowers. I really want to grow more flowers … and become more adept at companion planting … and grow more herbs … and more salad … and stuff that I haven’t grown before …
All of this before I even begin to think about the garden at home!
A totally overgrown mess when we moved in, I am working to create what I hope will be a tranquil haven of colour, fragrance and practical use – a riotous mix of flowers, fruit and vegetables in a space that I am thinking of less as a ‘garden’ and more as as an ‘outdoor room’.
With the allotment a good half-hour’s drive away, my aim is to make best use of growing space at home for daily essentials such as salad crops, baby leaves and plenty of herbs, whilst taking a more long-term approach at the allotment, with produce that grows much more slowly and need harvesting less often.