Thursday, 12 June 2014

Little Bits of Earth

Last year, Mum took on an allotment. For the following 12 months, it was all I heard about. Or half heard about it. I've never been that much of a veg fan. Last year's squash crop was so big it almost put me off pumpkin for life - there's still one in the kitchen. But, last time I was home, I went down to the plot at a ridiculous 7:30 (if you're not birding) to lend a hand. And I finally got it.

My last trip down had been in winter, there was lots of bare earth and damp grass. It looked pretty grim. When I was back last month, everything was shades of spring green and deep red. I could hear skylarks. It was so unnaturally natural. After lending a hand with weeding and planting some salad and marigolds. I promised Mum I'd nip back down and take some record shots for her. These are they.

The allotment is definitely a practical one, she's not been lured away from the fruits and veggies yet; but, the determined little plants still have such charm, especially up-close. The beds themselves are only slightly raised, so there's lots of knee bending for both weeding, planting, and photography. I passed it off as good exercise (even if it did make me feel a little creaky) and got stuck in.

I planted these!

Salad crops grow fast, getting lots of successive use out of beds. 

Dwarf beans have beautiful hidden flowers

The allotment itself is obviously organic (the big pile of rotting manure is testament to that), and full of wonderful natural predators. The small space was packed with ladybirds, lacewings, and other great little creepy crawlies, all of which will happily much away on those garden nasties. A happy looking song thrush was bashing a snail to bits as we arrived, and lazy bees buzzed between the bean flowers. The only thing Mum wasn't happy to see was a particularly menacing cabbage white, which we swiftly shooed away before carefully replacing the fleece.

They say that an Englishman's home is his castle. If that's the case, then the allotment is hallowed ground. Everyone knows their boundaries - marked or unmarked - and hell mend those that don't keep to them. Otherwise its a friendly atmosphere, with plenty of gossip between neighbours, the only grumbles being about the refilling of the water trough. 

Everywhere you look on the allotment there are great examples of creative recycling. Pallet compost bins, bath-tub planters. Mum even uses water filled bottles to weigh down her cloches and covers.

Zooming out, you can see not only the mix of veg, but the space still for cultivating. Strictly organised beds help keep the more rambling plants at bay, and the really invasive plants are confined to planters, and in front of the new shed an area protected by thick carpet from the ingress of weeds awaits the next crop. 

I'll try and take some more pictures before harvest time hits. Personally, I'll be holding back on the pumpkin this year...

This year, Mum's Christmas present was a new shed.

Mesh wind brakes protect the taller veggies

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