New Ground!

First View (South)Ever since we started ‘allotmentifying’ our back garden, there’s been a small part of me that yearned for a proper allotment. To be honest, I never really took that yearning too seriously – somehow I imagined it would be impossible to get, that somehow those in charge would be able to tell that I don’t really know what I’m doing and give any available land to someone, well, competent.

However, a combination of good luck and a wife who is very good at Getting Things Done have resulted in us handing over our year’s rent this weekend, and taking possession of Plot 3; a plot which (despite the grassiness of the picture) is in remarkably good condition – it’s been actively worked up until the last season so although weedy, isn’t drowned in brambles and bindweed.

We’re blessed with a fairly solid shed at the end (you can see it in the back of this picture) – the roof leaks a little, but aside from that it’s great. At the other end is a large oak tree; while this does overshadow that end of the plot a little it is, at least, at the north end so it doesn’t project too much shade. Time will tell how badly it affects the water side of things, however.

Down half the length of one side are a variety of fruit trees – one eating and one cooking apple, something which I’m declaring to be a plum of some sort, and a total mystery. On the other side, there’s also a chunk of space taken by some rather delicious golden raspberries, and an assortment of other berry-like bushes that I probably wont manage to identify until some fruit appears on them. This is great news; partly because I’d want some permanent fixtures on the plot anyway, and partly because they all take up space.

An allotment, you see, is huge. I mean really, properly big. I mean, our back garden is a reasonable size but the plot must be 4 times the area, easily. The standard size of an allotment in the UK is a rather unhelpful 10 poles – I’m a big fan of imperial measures over metric but that’s a little too imperial, even for me. In modern English, that comes out to somewhere around 300 square yards. At a rough guess, the garden is more like 75, so actually my original guess of 4 times the space looks to be spot on.

The good side of all this is that we’ve suddenly expanded our crop-growing capacity. Even this year with the garden mostly cleared, it’s been a case of drawing up a list of things that would be nice to grow, and then cross things off it until it all fit in the garden. For 2011, I’m looking forward to having the room to avoid that crossing off part – as long as I can get the beds dug in time, of course!

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