Humorous take on starting an allotment
I’m bent over looking at what appears to be a weed –bed; not a flower-bed or cabbage or strawberry patch, potato crop or bean frame. It’s a weed-bed; my legs are shaking inside my wellies like a wind-blown garden cane in a plant-pot with the effort of walking head-down pulling the weeds from the soil. I stand upright and stretch my back and legs; how did this nice clear patch of cultivated soil turn into this jungle? It can’t be three days since I was here and everything looked fine then; there were a few weeds showing amongst the broad beans and beetroots but they weren’t overgrown. Oh well, these are the joys of having an allotment.
Now I know why it is said that gardening is a matter of your enthusiasm holding up until your back gets used to it. I stretch again and look across the site at the neighbouring allotments. Neat rows of green, spotted with brown sheds and the odd green house. It’s quiet except for the chirping of some birds – I don’t know what birds they are, give me a chance I’m still trying to work out why everyone is growing carrots in old bathtubs three feet off the ground. I’m a beginner at all things horticultural and most other things in the natural world – I think driving my car along the dirt track to the allotment is some kind of off-road rallying, I’ve rarely ever left solid tarmac before – so the bird-song identification is a long way down on my list. Anyway, the birdsong is not unpleasant and it adds to the sense of tranquillity that descends when I am here. Even though I can see other plot holders working on their plots or talking to neighbours, the scene is one of peace and quiet.
From what I’ve seen in the short time that I have been working the plot, people come and go at all times, mornings, afternoons and evenings; some spending whole days whiling away their time, quietly content in their activities. It appears to be addictive and fulfilling both at the same time; as someone once said, gardening is cheaper than therapy and you get tomatoes.
But back to the weeds, there are a lot more to be pulled out and I need to be careful that I don’t pull out any seedlings at the same time. I was recently advised that when weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it; if it comes out of the ground easily it is a valuable plant. I keep this in mind as I carry on trying not to pull out the easier ‘valuable plants’. But even with my head bent uncomfortably down among the weeds that seem to grow so much faster than the plants I have spent time and money over, I cannot help but reflect on the green neatness of the surrounding plots and feel envious of their owners and the wonderful l order they have created. As I stumble, Quasimodo-like through another patch of grass, thistle and cleaver I wonder how long it will take me to achieve that same ideal on my plot.