Allotment Dreams

It's that time of the year when gardens and allotments are viewed through misty, rose tinted spectacles and anything and everything seems possible. All will be perfect in the coming year and the slate showing the mistakes and trials of 2010 is wiped clean.

The miserable weather of the past few weeks has given me plenty of time to think about my allotment in the coming year. I have new beds to plant up, inspiration to try new things courtesy of Mark Diacono's book, A Taste of the Unexpected, plus a stern reminder from myself that I hardly managed to do anything on my Incredible Edibles project last year, having only added Fuchsia fruit to my list of new tastes (yum) and nothing to my grown first time (groan more like).

All the seeds are on order (Threadspider and I have decided to share again this year) and already a couple of boxes of promise have arrived with more due to arrive any day now. I was also given the happy task of spending £50 on whatever I wanted to trial from the Victoriana catalogue courtesy of Fennel and Fern (more on this to come).

I also have some plot re-designing to do: not only to add the new patches into my plan, but one half of my original plot was changed last year from 2 major beds with each subdivided into 6 or 7 mini plots to just the two. I'm not very happy with this new arrangement so I'm thinking of dividing both of them into two with my planned edible hedges of Fuchsia and Japanese quince. I'd like a path each side of them so that I won't need to do much traipsing over my sticky clay soil at planting and hoeing times: I just need to source a supply of (preferably free or very cheap) paving slabs to make this a reality.

Other new crops for me this year (or next perhaps depending on how they do) will be wineberry, honeyberry, kai lan and blackcurrants. Threadspider and I will be trialling a garden centre sourced pot grown blackcurrant 'Ebony', vs its nursery grown bare root counterpart. I have some home saved chilli seeds to nurture for the first time. I also have a freebie raised bed to assemble so I can experiment with no-dig salads vs my usual method of growing them. Both Threadspider and I found Charles Dowding's talk in Bath on the no-dig method most inspirational last year and now it's my turn to see if it'll work for me.

It's also time for more flowers on the plot, particularly to attract bees. I've chosen a wildflower seed mix, plus an artichoke to grace the new bed towards the bottom of my plot. This was where I discovered dozens of old bags of soot courtesy of my predecessor, so I'm concerned that growing crops here will take up too much of the heavy metals which may have accumulated. I also have plans for a massive cutting garden of Dahlias (tubers) and Asters (from seed), but acknowledge I may have double the size of plot available in my mind's eye, rather than what's there in reality ;)

So the dreams are all there, now it's time to take them a little more towards reality and draw up a new plot plan. And then the hard work begins :)

What dreams and plans do you have for your plot or garden this year?


  1. I really do think it's a wonderful time - the time when your dreams seem truly possible. It's a time worth savouring.

    I envy you the allotment. In part this is because we have just given up ours but mostly because a vegetable patch is much easier to restructure than a non-vegetable space. My garden really needs digging up and reorganising but I will have to wait to the autumn (if I do it at all) and it will be traumatic. That I can't move the olive tree (too big now) messes up any sensible arrangement.

    Enjoy your dreams. Enjoy making new beds too.


  2. Esther - I think this time of the year is truly one of the best of all. We may moan how dark,grey, cold and gloomy everything is, but I truly believe that the enforced 'down time' is needed to refresh and invigorate us. I'm definitely savouring it.

    I was sad to read your news about giving up your allotment and I hope you return to vegetable growing again soon.

    WV says dines ('cos I'm not looged onto Google yet) - how appropriate!

  3. I'm a great dreamer and I too have been dreaming of what to do on my plot this year.

    My most enthusiastic idea is to grow more flowers amongst my vegetables e.g. nasturtiums among the cabbages and maybe flax among the parsnips. I think it is my longing for some colour - in the mainly green winter - that is fueling this technicolour dreaming.

    I'm really enjoying reading Charles Dowding's book 'Organic Gardening the Natural No Dig way' and I intend to trial the no dig approach next year .. and for future beds too. (We had to leave the plot neglected a lot last year and we mulched the weeds and then covered them in tarps or cardboard in the autumn, so I'm hoping they'll be workable my spring time.)

    I'm tempted to try some chinese artichokes for the first time this year. I've tried oca before and liked it.

    Good luck with all your re-designing and turning those plans into reality.

    P.S. I enjoy stopping by your blog, even if I don't comment often.

  4. Hi VP, good to know I am not the only one whose plot magically expands in the imagination, leading to much deflation in the cold hard light of day... I have a brand new plot to tame, and am full of plans for edibles plus pretties. I am going to start with easy stuff, in the hope that there will be more successes than failures. Charles Dowding's book is on my wishlist... Good luck with your dreaming!

  5. I agree, this is the time of dreaming of what could be. Dream big, there is plenty more room in that cloud than there is on earth. Your plans for the allottment, wish we had such things here!, sound divine. I am interested in the currants, having never eaten a fresh one before, but see them in catalogs flooding the mailbox right now.


  6. This comment's from Patient Gardener who had trouble with the WV box, so kindly emailed me instead:

    How exciting lots of things to try out - hopefully this year will be a more positive one for you at the allotment than last year.
    I have got my soft fruit sorted, seed potatoes and shallots ordered, onion sown and garlic planted (in pots). I now have to tackle my ridiculously long wish list of veg to grow and order my seeds

    Hope you find a good solution to the paths

    PG - seeds and shallots arrived yesterday and cucumber seeds today :)

  7. FJ - I've yet to try Oca & it's one on my list. It needs protection doesn't it? I seem to remember people speculating whether theirs is going to survive this winter... or was that yacon?

    Plantaliscious - what a coincidence: I was reading your comment over at HMs about having ideas bigger than your plot precisely when you were commenting on here!

    FG - I usually dream big but that's got me into trouble re finishing the job, so I've decided to go with something a bit more achievable this year :)

  8. Aims: Simplify, simplify, simplify, so spend more time visiting other gardens!
    Thanks for kind comment re public spaces - pleased to have helped you!

  9. I so agree with your first paragraph - especially that mistakes are wiped from our minds.
    I just want to keep on top of things in garden and allotment - the dream that never comes true no matter how I try!

  10. Well you know about my garden dreams beacuse you've been and seen the garden - but I'm getting on with rebuilding the stone walls we uncovered, and I'm having some raised beds put in for my own mini allotment. And lastly I'm recording all the birds and wildlife month by month.

    PS Do you want the water but? I have sorted it now and can bring it to the lottie if you would like?

  11. A new season VP- oh so exciting :) I am still very much at the seed packets scattered all over the floor, interspersed with various notes to self scribbled over the last few months stage. First task is to gently reacquaint myself with my allotment - our paths have not crossed since November. Then when it warms up some planting of apple trees. Hope your new year at the allotment lives up to all that you wish from it.

  12. There is always so much possibility at this time of year - having just put in two big seed orders and decided to grow raspberries here, in my minds eye I can see a wonderful summer full of edibles and flowers ....

    I do hope that this year at the allotment is good for you without all the "bother" that you have had previously.

  13. PS -
    This year we are experimenting more with moon planting!

    Both in Veg garden and flower gardens

  14. As you know, gonna be a bit busy for me on the road with the book thing, so mostly I'm going to try coping with all that as who knows how much time my garden will get? But hubby is rebuilding my greenhouse (with a Tardis theme!) so who knows, there might be some herbs and tomatoes....

  15. Hi VP. I've grown oca unprotected for two years in a row now. It is a bit risky, as apparently the tubers don't start to form untl after the autumn equinox and the top growth is killed off by hard frost.
    In my experience, it is worth the risk (this is in County Leitrim in the middle of Ireland). This year I pulled mine up in early November and still got some good tubers and some smaller ones that I'll replant next year.
    I like that I can eat oca raw - has a hint of lemon in the taste.
    Interestingly I planted pink and white tubers originally, but now all my tubers are white.

  16. Your opening lines are spot on and why not we all have to dream, I shall have the perfect plot this year, well in my head anyway!!

  17. Robert - simplify. A good mantra for the year :)

    EG - yes,I'm sure my dreams and reality will be very different too!

    Mark - fab news re the garden, I look forward to seeing the progress you've made. It's probably best if you give your water butt to your friend who's interested. My plot neighbour has dug all her plot next to mine which means I no longer have a suitable spot to put the butt to catch the rainfall from my shed :(

    Anna - ooh apple trees :) Which ones are you planting?

    Karen - I'm interested in how you get on with 'moon' planting. TS and I were going to trial th etechnique but we haven't got around to it yet!

    Jodi - I have 2 sheds with TARDIS tendencies which I need to sort out ;) Good luck with the book and I'm looking forward to my copy!

    FJ - thanks for coming back and telling me more about oca. It's on my list of things to try, but it's probably a bit too ambitious for me to add it to this year's already long list of things to try.

    Damo - that's why I love this time of the year. It's the one time I have the perfect plot ;)


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