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Allotment – forgotten but not gone

March 10, 2013

WildernessI have had an allotment for some years now. It has been a source of joy.

But it is fair to add that it has also been a source of tribulation and even despair. The last two summers in particular have been atrocious – partly due to weather, partly due to my own failings, and partly due to the weather. The weather gets two parts because it has been so terrible.

We spent a huge, huge amount of time and effort last year digging and digging and planting and digging – and then the rains came. And when the rains came, they didn’t stop for months and months and months. Everything died, or got slugged, or washed away, or whimpered in despair and we got hardly anything to eat. It was miserable.

So this year it feels like starting again. And it’s been a slow start at that because the weather (argh! weather!)  has been so wintry that it’s been impossible to summon up the energy and the will and the opportunity all together on a day when it isn’t actually snowing. The children even decided to catch measles in order specifically to foil all attempts at going to the allotment.

And all this means that the allotment – on our first visit of the year – looks like no bugger has been near it for a decade. The couch and creeping buttercup and other weeds that we’ve been battling the entire time are out in force. It’s horrible.

Look – here’s some evidence about the weather:

Mysterious thing

What can this weird-looking thing be? Alien spawn?

Tiny leaves

Aha – a plant!

Rhubarb!

Rhubarb!

In any halfway decent year, we would be eating rhubarb pies in February. This year, we’re almost at mid-March, and only one of the three rhubarb plants is anywhere near (the most established of the three) and even that looks a fortnight away from any sort of harvest.

Still, it’s not all doom and gloom. The Jerusalem artichokes haven’t reappeared while our backs were turned. The thornless blackberry I planted about three years ago has finally taken off (in fact, the stems were many, many feet long, and I’ve tied the thing in a knot to stop it rooting in the compost pile). The sorrel has come back good and fresh and green – you can see it peeking out from behind the rhubarb in the third picture above.

And there are spring flowers to enjoy:

Spring flowers

Primroses, with errant blackberry

Spring flowers

Daffodils & crocuses

We even did some digging, about which more anon (the reason will become apparent!), and planted a few rows of broad beans and onions. Not bad, I say. Of course – on the way home – it snowed. But only a bit.

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