Wednesday, 14 October 2009

The plot thickens...

It’s perfect autumn weather here – cold, misty mornings gently giving way to clear blue skies and strong, low rays of golden sunshine that warm the soul. And as the afternoon sun spreads out across the landscape like clear Little Somerford honey on a thickly buttered English muffin I’m beginning to regret insisting Alex wore a vest for school this morning – he’ll be baking.

I’ve finally managed to get down to the allotment for a spot of digging. The digging John D kindly offered to do seems to have consisted of rolling up the damp bits of carpet that have been covering up the plot for several months, then sitting on a bench, taking a large handkerchief out of his pocket to dab his forehead and say, “By gum it’s ‘ot!”

But that’s fine. Digging is good for the soul, and in a Spartan sort of way I think that many of the world’s problems would be solved if we all started doing a bit more of our own digging. Metaphorically speaking, I mean. Every time I put my wellies on over the last few days it's started to rain, but I can now see the value of rain, and the time all that water has had to soak into the unyeilding, sandy loam breaking it down into soft, crumbly chunks. I think I’m finally starting to become a gardener.

I hadn’t realized, though, how political life on the allotment is. They all seem so nice and smiley down in the pub, but out on the allotments of an October afternoon it’s a different matter. I’m between Dick and John D – two of the most experienced allotmenteers on the plot. Dick is huffing and puffing about a large pile of damp weeds that have suddenly appeared on his bonfire. It suddenly occurs to me that they’re probably my weeds, which John D has put there because he doesn’t hold with having bonfires on his part of the allotment. I think my best bet is probably to keep quiet.

Henry strolls by and offers me some beetroot. He asks me how I’m getting on.

“Well, it’s quite hard work,” I tell him. He looks up at the tall hedge of ash trees which plunge nearly half my plot into deep shade.

“John told me it would be nice to have a bit of shade in the summer, “ I explained. “He said the other part of the allotment gets really parched when it’s hot.”

“Oh, he did, did he?” says Henry. Not looking entirely convinced.

Phillip comes over to join the conversation and tells me the trouble he’s having getting anything to grow under the shade of the ash trees and points out a mole hole and a little pile of slugs eggs I’ve missed.

“Oh, well,” I say. “I can ask the Parish Council to get them pollarded at the next meeting.”

I have a feeling this is all going to be a bit more involved than I’d imagined.


  1. Do you know, I think I might be quite good at digging if it involves sitting on a bench, dabbing your forehead with a handkerchief? That did make me laugh. Actually I do like digging - but only if someone else has done the really heaving stuff first, in fact, to be more accurate, I like forking, so perhaps we could all have a good fork to set the world to rights. I do hope Alex didn't bake in his vest.

  2. I have half-term allotment plans...a bit of clearing is required. Do you know where I can get some well-rotted manure?

  3. Just had 24 hours of rain and I'll bet it hasn't even got through the top centimetre of soil. My autumn digging is going to be hard, hard work.