Allotmentation, allotmenteering…??

So, I’m now an allotment holder. But I’m unclear on the terminology. Does that make me an Allotmenter, an Allotmentist, an Allotment Practitioner, or something I’ve not yet thought of? I’m sure I’ll have many more questions over the coming months (and years, if I manage to keep the Allotmentation going). The burning issue, though, is one which worries me on a daily basis.

Bodily functions.

It is a well known fact that the majority of Allotmentists are men. As such, they have (literally) a built in advantage in that they are able to ‘pee on the move’ with minimal need for preparation or forethought. However, how do Allotmentationers of the female variety get by? So far, I’ve held it in until I’ve got home. My allotment, you see, is not of the upmarket variety with toilets provided, and we are surprisingly short of bushes behind which one might achieve a certain  degree of privacy (except for clumps of stinging nettles, and I’ve never been the most daring thrillseeker in the world). So really, how do I cope? Men are advised to pee on their compost heaps, to encourage faster biodegrading of the ‘organic matter’, but it would take a far more brazen spirit than I to climb up and then squat upon the heap of horse manure which passes, at present, as my compost heap.

As far as I can see it, I have a couple of options. 1. Develop greater bladder strength (although I do pretty well, especially after two children!). 2. Build myself a small cubicle over part of a compost heap, to use as an open air toilet. 3. Buy my shed, put up curtains and buy a Shewee. Then discreetely dispose of contents of bottle onto compost heap in nonchalant manner.

Decisions, decisions. As you can tell, this issue has been occupying my mind for some weeks now, and I still haven’t reached a satisfactory conclusion! It’s all very well if I were gardening in a remote field with only cows or sheep for company. But allotmenteering with many gentlemen around, only two of whom were my side of sixty, makes the issue somewhat more difficult to resolve.

Small steps to home grown produce

I’ve taken the first small steps towards starting to use my allotment today. I’ve bought a hoe, a pair of gardening gloves and some bulbs of garlic to plant! I also made a list of what I want to grow, and got it into some sort of plan so that I know which ones need to be planted first.

This month I need to clear the weeds that have accumulated since the last occupier used the plot last year, prune the gooseberry bushes, mark the sections of the plot so that I remember whiat goes where, apply for permission to put up a shed, lay some paving stones at one end, get a compost bin, plant garlic, plant rhubarb and order seed potatoes, fruit canes and asparagus crowns to plant in the coming weeks. Not much happening, really!

The season of lethargy

I’ll be glad when Monday is here and we’ve seen the back of another January. Actually, if I’m honest, I’ll be glad when four weeks from Monday is here and we’ve seen the back of the two most miserable months of the year.

I definitely think that nature intended me to be either a hibernating creature or one who should live in a warmer climate. I don’t feel the pull of nature on crisp winter days to get outside, interact with frozen earth and bare, ghostly looking trees and watch my frozen breath emerge in clouds from my mouth, taking with it all of my inner warmth (not that I had much in the first place). My love affair with nature is definitely dormant until nature itself wakes up and starts doing interesting things. And even then, being fickle, I want LOTS of interesting things, all at once. Snowdrops are nice, and really do cheer me up. But until I see hordes of smiling daffodils nodding in a mild March zephyr, new leaves forming on trees, daisies growing prolifically in the grass outside my front door and, most importantly, a high enough temperature on the thermometer to warrant leaving my scarf and gloves at home, the only place I want to be is in the corner of my sofa, wrapped in a snuggly blanket with a big mug of steaming tea to my left hand side.

The allotment will force me to go outside, which is good. I know that the fresh air and the occasional drip of vitamin D from the occasional wavering ray of sunshine will be beneficial. And at least I am forced out twice a day to do the school runs. But when Springtime comes, when it’s not actively uncomfortable to be outside, I love to be out.

However, we’ve got a good four or five weeks of making our own happiness before Nature catches up, so on Monday I’m going to start making some mittens. And then another jumper. And then possibly a shawl.

We got the allotment!

I rang and made an appointment to view our potential allotment this morning, and by lunchtime I had signed the allotment agreement! I’ll have to wait a couple of days for a key to the entrance gate of the allotments, but other than that, I’m in! Hopefully next week I can make a bit of a start on preparing the ground for my crops (I do feel grown up writing that!).

Our plot is long and narrow (83’x14′) and goes down as far as that bit of corrugated metal you can see. Apparently it was worked up until last year, so the weeds are probably quite superficial. We’ve got a couple of gooseberry bushes already, as well as sage, mint and something else I can’t remember! This was originally only half of the plot, but was split into mine and the one next door in order to try to reduce the waiting list (apparently there are still 43 people waiting for a plot in this allotment alone!). Slightly unfortunately, the other half of the plot is where the shed was, so I’ll have to provide my own. However, on the bright side, I’ve got the big poles half way down my plot which will be brilliant to hold up my runner beans and sweet peas. There’s already a decent boardwalk down the left hand side, and a rough path made mainly of old carpet down the right which I hope to straighten soon (its wonkiness bothers me!).

This year, this nearest bit of the plot will have my potatoes. Then will come my miscellaneous bits and pieces before the beanpoles. Then a patch for my brassicas, and then at the far end my fruit patch will be started.

You can better see the bottom end of my patch in this picture.

Another thing I hope to get done soon is a better visual indication of where my plot ends. I’m not sure whether to go for solid fencing (probably just random bits of wood etc) or whether to use plants as borders, like lavendar etc. I’ll think that through while I make a start on my fruit patch. And, I hope that we get some more days like this when I come to start work, as it was a lovely bright day (if a little chilly!) which would be much better for my spirits than having to lift unwanted grass in drizzle!

Green fingers (or not!)

Exciting news! I had a note through my door today, inviting me to make an appointment to view a plot at our local allotment, with the possibility of being able to rent the plot! Yay! Please keep your fingers crossed for us, that this plot will be in good condition and in a good position!

If we get the plot, I’ll be hoping and praying for a better summer than we’ve enjoyed the last couple of years, so that I get a chance to actually plant some fruit and veg!

Updates as and when I know more…

Cardiff in bloom

For a city, Cardiff isn’t such a bad place to be in the summer! I was especially appreciating the plants and flowers around the city centre today, arranged by Cardiff County Council. I took a few pictures to show you.

cardiff tree

This first picture is of a hanging basket ‘tree’, of which there are several up and down St Mary’s Street in the middle of town. St Mary’s Street itself is a bit of a shambles at the moment due to reorganisation of the road and traffic management, but these baskets provide a lovely distraction from the disruption. And how could you ignore them!

planters in churchill way

On Churchill Way are to be found these glorious planters. The scarlet provides such a dramatic contrast to the grey of the pavement.

hanging baskets in churchill way

Even the hanging baskets outside the Capitol Shopping Centre are a welcome splash of colour.

newport road planters

I took this photo whilst waiting at traffic lights on Newport Road on my way into town last month. Again, planters all the way up the centre of this busy road provide a lovely burst of colour to break up the monotony of the tarmac and paving slabs. Also, they are planted this year in purple and yellow, my old school house colours. Go Portland!

planter on newport road

Here’s one of the planters a little closer up. I apologise that there’s not a lot of yellow in this one, and maybe I could have found a better example, but you’ll have to put up with what I was stopped next to! And the Cardiff Bus in the background proves that it was indeed taken here!

As well as all of these blooms, a good proportion of the gardens in Cardiff are beautifully tended and riotous with colour, but I didn’t think I’d better start photographing random gardens without permission, so you’ll have to take my word for it. At the weekend I hope to go to Bute Park. If I get there, I’ll be sure to photograph some more summer colour to share with you.

Allotments

As some of you might remember, last year I put my name down for an allotment near my home. Reading everyone’s accounts of how they are growing lovely veggies in their gardens made me turn more than a little green with envy, and so I decided to chase up my application. Hmm. It turns out that I am fourteenth on the list for the nearby allotments. Not good! I can’t imagine that I’ll get anywhere near the top of the list for the next couple of years or more, by which time I may well have moved to somewhere with a little garden of my own, and no longer be in such great need of an allotment. From what I’ve heard, once in an allotment, people don’t often leave.

Oh well, back to the tomatoes on the windowsill it is then. And occasional helping out Jo and her garden. Sad face!