In the last week, I have realised that firstly I am getting old and secondly that I am getting excited.
Both are interlinked so I will begin with the getting old bit…
I have had various allotments and growing situations over the last six years which have all become unviable for a number of reasons; distance to the site after we moved, friendships ending with people who I held and created plots with. In the summer of 2020, I become aware of a very tucked-away allotment site about a seven-minute walk away from my new house. The site is one of only two directly managed by Derby City Council, meaning there is no site committee (people on the sites I have formerly been at who have too much time on their hands and not enough to occupy it with other than gossiping – hello if you’re reading this!).
There are upsides and downsides to this arrangement. There is much less interference but also a much greater emphasis on you doing things for yourself. Arranging materials, mulches and other stuff usually organised by site committees are up to the individual plot holders. We have a fabulous liaison with the council, but the individual in question does this more from a love of the site and a desire to see it continue and thrive, rather than any power trip they might benefit from.
I reserved myself two plots, with a total area of about 320ish square metres. When I got it the whole lot had not been cultivated for between four and ten years. It was covered with five-foot high grass and in the worse area bindweed and brambles. I managed most of the preparatory work I wanted to achieve which mainly involved a love affair with a petrol strimmer, an intimate relationship with my local dairy farmer and twenty tonnes of cow shit followed by rolling around in the mulch with a huge amount of weed membrane.
Shortly after achieving all this, disaster struck both personally and globally. The covid pandemic hit which of course impacted upon everyone, but which [read covid infection] also stopped the medication I had used to control my mental health challenges successfully for seven years to stop working so well. I won’t go into details now, but needless to say, between July 2020 and the current time it has been pretty hard. I have had four inpatient psychiatric hospitalisations and a lot of other issues to deal with in between these pretty dark lows.
Luckily, things seem (fingers crossed) to be sorting themselves out again, so I was in a position to pick up where I left off when I acquired a greenhouse for free last July. The erection of this fabulous item took place in October 2022, about two weeks before my latest (and hopefully last for a while) inpatient admission. Unfortunately because of my untimely mental health crisis the last and crucial job of securing the greenhouse itself to the oak sleeper base was not completed. Plans were hatched to do this two weeks ago, however a short trip to the lottie revealed that the cold weather had caused the structure to slide off its base with one corner resting on the mud next to it. Last Sunday was spent with my friend John, the greenhousemeister and my beloved moving it back into place and finally getting the frame and base attached to one another with nails rather than prayer and sprinkling of hope.
So, how does one express one’s undying gratitude to a faithful partner who gives up their Sunday to resurrect a glass house? By buying him seed potatoes of course! Standing in the queue to make these purchases (different to my own varieties of course) I reflected on the fact that in my twenties and thirties I might have bought aftershave, jewellery or even a nice dinner, but now we are resorting to seed potatoes and other horticulturally-based items to express our love and appreciation for one another.
That’s how I know I am getting old, but I am rather enjoying it to be honest.
The excited bit is related to simply having a functional allotment. I have beds laid, some garlic and onion sets in already, but am quietly spending my dark January evenings plotting (pun intended) my bed layouts and seed purchases. Sitting at a laptop with a spreadsheet open to work out what I have, what I need and when it all needs to be started might be considered very sad, but I think it’s fabulous.
So, here’s to getting old, getting excited and better weather in the near future.