Our Allotment – A great success story
The best way to tell you the story of our allotment is in the words of fellow allotmenteers Gary and Sue Bradshaw who came on board to support us in developing and maintaining our plot year round.
We acquired a plot on Dorrington Road allotments early in 2018, with a view to developing it as a pleasurable and therapeutic resource for Headway members and Carers in the local area. The plot in its original state had been neglected for many years, it had accumulated a large amount of rubbish such as broken glass, rotten timber, rotting carpets, it was overgrown with vigorous perennial weeds such as dock, and massive amounts of bind weed and brambles. The ground was very uneven and difficult to walk on safely.
The initial work required the removal and disposal of all the rubbish and weeds (as far as possible) and levelling out the ground to provide a safe surface and blank canvas on which to plan the layout of the site. This was done by a concerted and strenuous effort from volunteers who spent many hours barrowing and digging and emptying rubbish into a skip. Photos and video clips taken at the time show what a mammoth task this was.
When the area was levelled the basic layout was created which included tool shed, poly tunnel and 4 raised beds as well as developing beds around the perimeters of the plot. A fence was created around the plot using timber begged and borrowed from various sources and the skills of dedicated members (Graham and Lynne).
The development and use of the allotment was cut short by the unusually hot summer which limited the time and work that could be done. Despite this there was a variety of vegetables and flowers grown. The last job of the autumn was for members to plant bulbs in pots for a spring showing, together with some garlic which was overwintered in the poly tunnel.
Season 2 2019
During the winter months further clearing of weeds and brambles was done to enable an area along the edge of the embankment to be developed into a bed which was raised to waist height. This raised bed was planted with fruit, strawberries, raspberries, rhubarb and gooseberry.
The raised beds were weeded further, and the soil enhanced with a delivery of mushroom compost in preparation for the new growing season. The new season was signalled by the spectacular showing of spring Daffodils which brought the place back to life.
In April there was a flurry of activity as members began to sow seeds for the allotment and to try to grow plants which could be sold at the May Fayre. The poly tunnel was filled with seed trays and plant pots as the seeds were sown and the seedlings pricked out and potted on. Favourites were Sunflowers, Calendulas, Lobelias, various types of Tomatoes, Broad Beans, Climbing French Beans, Runner Beans, Spring Onions, Chard, Courgettes, and of course, Lettuce in abundance. They all seemed to thrive, and by the time the May event was approaching the poly tunnel was packed with healthy plants.
Outside one of the beds was planted with onion sets, and broad-beans. Unfortunately, the early planted beans were demolished by mice, and needed replacing with mature plants later in the season. The mice also managed to feast on some of the beans in the poly tunnel, but they kindly left some for our use. We decided not to plant potatoes in the beds this year as they take up a lot of space, but compensated by planting them in growing bags, which were harvested at the end of summer.
We decided that we would use 3 of the 4 raised beds for vegetables and the other for flowers which provides plenty of colour to attract pollinators and chilled out volunteers. Sweet pea plants bought early in the year provided wonderful colour, scent and an ongoing supply of cut flowers. The borders were also planted for colour and hanging baskets and planters along the fence added to the impact. The home -grown Sunflowers were particularly spectacular.
The other 3 beds supplied an ongoing harvest of Beans, Spring Onions, Chard, Courgettes, Lettuce and a good crop of Onions and Garlic. We are waiting to see whether the Sweetcorn will be successful. There are leeks planted under protective chicken wire to save them from hungry rabbits in the winter, so these and some Purple Sprouting Broccoli should be ready in the spring if they can survive the marauding bunnies.
The Poly Tunnel provided an ongoing supply of sweet tasty tomatoes, chilli peppers, sweet peppers, and the first attempt to grow melons produced a crop of 2 melons which we are reliably informed were very tasty. We have also started off a grape vine which will be trained along the top of the tunnel.
The Summer BBQ event was a great day to share what has been achieved and hopefully to encourage people to enjoy it in the future.
It is difficult to believe that this is the first full year at the allotment, and to think what has been achieved in such a short time., this achieved by the volunteers who have found a perfect balance between work and leisure in the garden.
Sadly due to the unexpected and unprecedented events of the past few months we have been unable to meet up at the allotment. Fortunately Gary, Sue, Lynne and Graham have very kindly been holding the fort for us and so we continue to enjoy our allotment albeit, virtually. Thank you.