Emma's Allotment Diaries - JANUARY

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

Dear fellow allotment enthusiasts,

Welcome to my allotment diaries. It's been 5 months since I took on my first allotment. I wanted to start these diaries in January so I can properly document the year through all the seasons and show you all the progress I will, of course, make.

When I took on my plot it was so heavily covered in blackberry bushes you couldn't even see the end of it. In fact, you couldn't see the middle either. It was just one enormous tumble of thorns and leaves and sickly sweet, half dead blackberries. And so I did what any completely clueless but gardening enthusiast would do. I grabbed a pair of shears and I started hacking at it. It was a garden masacre, and it was blooming good fun too.

Fast forward 3 months and the end of the allotment was in sight. But it wasn't without it's casualties. Beneath me lay the remains of several thousand former thriving blackberry bushes. Which, I suddenly realised, meant about a thousand blackberry canes firmly rooted in the soil. The battle had been won, but the war wasn't close to being over yet.

Braced with the thickest pair of leather gloves I could find at B&Q, I began the slow and tedious task of digging each cane out by hand. It was hard, back breaking work and the progress felt so slow at times it was almost as though I were moving backwards. But something in me had changed.

Because as difficult as it was, at no point did I want to give up. If anything, discovering a hidden but very active wasp nest and about a dozed giant ornamental grasses not only spurred me on, but filled me with a joy I hadn't expected. I felt productive, like I never had before. I was working hard, but I was working towards something. An end goal, a vision, a dream. It felt good.

After a very nasty, but successful altercation with a fox and several wasp stings later, I had finally managed to hit soil. And it was euphoric. It was the smell of success ,validation of all my hard work. The plot had been half cleared, and I was ready to create my raised beds.

Through rain, freezing fog and oozing mud I haphazardly nailed together pieces of wood. The beds were built. The 2 for 1 compost bags were emptied and I finally had something that looked like an allotment. An empty, slightly wonky allotment, but it didn't matter. Because it was mine. And I had created it.

And here we are. January. The longest month of the year, and for the first time, I was glad for it. Because the work doesn't stop on an allotment. In fact, the list only grows longer. On January the 1st, 2 months late, I finally planted out 150 tulip bulbs in my first raised bed. The satisfaction I got when I planted that last bulb was like nothing I had ever felt. It was an achievement, a job today for the promise of tomorrow.

The work continues and spring only grows closer. So watch this space, because I'm sure I'll have lots more to share with you over the next few months. Be it success or failure, I'll stick it out. Digging one carrot at a time.


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