Still much to do
There is a feeling at this time of the year that everything is finished on the allotment. The last tomatoes have been picked and any green ones are now ripening on a windowsill. The bean frames are leaning over at an alarming angle and any pods that have clung on are turning brown. The flowers that once grew amongst our veg have either faded or are, like the condemned man, awaiting the first frost. It can seem like gloom and doom arrives with the month of November. The poet Thomas Hood had this feeling when he wrote:
No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds, –
But I’m having none of that. If we look around us there is still so much to be done and, more importantly, so much that the allotment can give us in return.
We are currently using the empty beds to store winter hardy plants for next spring’s bedding – Wallflowers, Sweet Williams, Foxgloves and Marigolds. The green manure that we sowed as we lifted our potatoes and onions has grown vigorously and now gives our soil a warm blanket of green that will be dug in as the winter progresses. The compost we have nurtured all summer will be spread over the soil that is bare and any crops we still have in the ground like leeks and parsnips will be harvested with extra relish in the dark months ahead.
Alan Jenkins in his wonderful book Plot 29 says that he visits his allotment as to an elderly relative and is dutiful, loyal. I think of it as a friend who still needs me when the winter sun is low. The truth, of course, is that it is me who has the need – to nurture, to walk through memories. To grow.
As you will be aware if you have visited the allotments over the past year, the plots are in a good state of repair. They have been well tended, pathways have been mown and lots of produce has been grown. And how lovely to see so many flowers being cultivated amongst all that fruit and veg. However, there will be some basic maintenance tasks to carry out over the winter, including covering plots for new owners to take on in the new year. We are also keen to tidy up the area by the Watery Lane entrance so that it does not become a dumping ground but a space where manure or compost could be delivered. We are also keen to carry out some work on the large shed by the orchard, improving storage and strengthening the structure. If you are able to assist in any of these tasks we would love to hear from you and will be publishing details of when we will be starting work in the coming months.
Our thanks goes to all those people who have helped with the upkeep of the allotments over the past year, whether that be giving of time and labour so generously or donating equipment for general use. Your support is appreciated.
Our fruit trees have grown really well this year and the area we planted up just two years ago is beginning to look like a real orchard. I would like to think that this time next year we will be picking fruit and asking you to share in our bounty. Basic tree maintenance will continue in the winter and early spring.
Dave Musson has been keeping readers of the Prattler fully informed of developments in the wildlife area with his monthly articles, so suffice to say that the bio diversity that he and Mark and Mary Newstead have helped create in that area has enhanced what we on the allotments do, day in, day out. That is something we all benefit from.
A range of equipment is available for allotment holders to borrow when working on the allotment site; this includes mowers, rotavators, wheelbarrows, brooms and watering cans. Many people will own some or all of the above, but for those who wish to get access to such equipment, please contact Lynda Eales (01327 341707) or Mike Langrish email@example.com (01327 341390). We can ensure that you get the equipment you require at a mutually convenient time.
If you are considering growing your own fruit and veg, act quickly by contacting Lynda Eales on 01327 341707. We have a few vacant plots but at least five local residents who are keen to begin allotmenting. Rent night will be held in January – more details in the next edition of the Prattler. It is hoped that by then we can reallocate vacant plots so that everyone is able to benefit from this wonderful village resource.