Thursday, 11 August 2011

Rethinking the Plot

As we're in the middle of National Allotments Week, it's an appropriate time to bring you up to date with happenings up at the plot. After a great deal of thought, sadness (and much growing of weeds), I've finally decided to give up half of the plot. Our distance caring responsibilities have increased enormously this year, plus I've gone back to work part-time, so I have to face up to reality and I can see that I can't keep things going in the way they should be.

I've written to the allotment committee and we'll be getting together shortly to discuss which half I'm keeping and the arrangements for handing over the other. I have the whole 10 lugs until the end of September, so there's lots of work to be done before my new neighbour (I hope they're nice!) comes in.

There's pros and cons to each half, so I'm swithering over which one I'd like. Not only that, there's trees to be moved and I'm hoping that not only can I delay moving them until they're dormant, I'll also be allowed to transfer them to my half of the plot. We've just had an amnesty on keeping existing allotment trees so long as they're kept to 2 metres in height, so I also need to get cracking with my summer pruning. Thank goodness I won a spanking new Felco pruning saw when I was in Seattle!

Irrespective of that decision, I also need to build new supports for any trees allowed to remain. The arches I've trained the trees over or have used for cordon/espalier training have finally collapsed in a heap. Some serious allotment ER is needed.

To help with my deliberations over my plotting future, here's the most important features I'm considering:

Left hand side (as you're looking at the picture)
  • already has space at the top of the plot ready for manure delivery
  • has the largest compost bin (720 litres and it's full)
  • has a slightly larger growing area since the demise of the nettle patch last year
  • has a great fennel 'hedge' which provides me with all the seeds I need for a year's supply of fennel tea
  • has 3 of the 7 most productive apple and pear trees, plus cherry (with canker), plum, damson and gage
  • 9 trees to move
  • has the raised bed (though easy to move)
  • 1 grape vine to deal with (work is needed anyway as it's sprawling over the ground)
  • 30 strawberry plants and a globe artichoke to move (this was going to happen anyway)
  • has a patch of bindweed and an absolutely dreadful patch of couch grass that won't lie down and play dead
Right hand side
  • has the TARDIS like shed
  • has the water butt (and it's nearly full - 220 litres)
  • has 4 compost bins (mainly full - approx. 1,000 litres of compost)
  • has my prize winning raspberries, plus rhubarb, gooseberries, more raspberries and some tired strawberries
  • the main (and prize winning) raspberry patch needs to be moved or replaced if I'm to have a manure delivery this autumn
  • has the cold frame (woeful success with melon growing, so considering abandoning)
  • has 4 out of the 7 most productive apples and pears, including our favourite and the best keeper (Saturn)
  • 7 trees to move
  • 1 grape vine to deal with (work is needed anyway as it's sprawling over the ground)
  • has a voracious and vicious self-sown bramble amongst the gooseberries
Hmm, writing that little lot down hasn't helped me decide at all. Do you have any thoughts?

Whilst there's a lot of hard work ahead and I hate the idea of giving up half of the plot, I have a sneaky suspicion I might be quite a bit more productive up there next year...

18 comments:

  1. Right side definitely, VP.

    I had the same problem earlier in the year but, incredibly, nobody took it on!

    Ended up taking it back as the weeds were rampaging!

    Hope your new neighbours are Monty Don and Pippa Greenwood!

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  2. I think you have made the right decision. Its been apparent to me that the allotment was more of a chore than a pleasure to you especially after the struggle with it last year. Half a plot should be more than enough with a bit of planning.

    I would go for the right hand side as well - only plus on the left area for manure delivery. Do you really need that as it only happens infrequently. Left hand side means moving a shed etc which you would have to find room for on the other side and probably would mean losing the manure delivery area which I think is a luxury.

    Hopefully we will have some rain over the coming weeks which will make the moving of trees easier

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  3. I think the right side has a bit more going for it. It has plenty of compost bins, fruit trees, etc to keep you going, PLUS, the Tardis shed and water butt. Seems like a no-brainer to me.

    It is hard to give things up. We have an innate tendency to hold on to things that are good, even when we don't need them. Something inside says, "But that big compost bin!" But the reality is that even if they are nice things, we don't really need them. When that happens, keeping nice things really becomes more of a burden than a joy. (This is something I'm wrestling with myself right now in re cleaning out my house...)

    Hope the downsizing makes things more enjoyable and manageable!

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  4. Seem like you've already made the hardest decision, to downsize the plot. Am impressed you were able to see that this was what you needed to do, it is hard to let go, and to admit you can't keep the full plot going as you would like. Personally, I don't know how anyone keeps a full plot together and looking good if they have anything else to do in their life! Better this than letting it carry on be a millstone. Fennel can be re-planted, compost moved, and hey, by letting go the left hand plot you will be leaving all that lovely couch grass and bindweed behind. Interesting that the choice of which to keep wasn't as obvious to you as it apparently is to the rest of us, either you know something else that wasn't on the list or it is the letting go being difficult. Either which way I hope the plot becomes a pleasure again and that your new neighbour is friendly and accommodating.

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  5. What a decision you have to make, very difficult for you, once made there's no going back. Whatever you decide I am sure it will all be for the best.

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  6. the right side looks the better of the two. either way, there's a lot of work heading your way! hoping you get great neighbors...

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  7. Right-hand side. Not that I know anything about allotments, but there seem to be more things you care about on that side.

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  8. That sounds like a difficult decision to make VP. But as you say, having just half the amount of space may be easier to manage and thus improve productivity so it sounds like the sensible thing to do. Fingers crossed you get lovely neighbours!

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  9. You have to right side - there's a shed!

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  10. Funny, I've been thinking the same thing about my plot. I was down there one evening this week, despairing at the weeds and thinking that actually, I could grow enough for me and the wife on half a plot. That way, I'd be much more effective with my time up there.

    Certainly an interesting thing to ponder.

    I'd go for the right hand side.

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  11. Oh VP I am sure that it must have been most agonising to let half your plot go but in the long term it will probably double your enjoyment. I know all too well that long distance caring responsibilities not only eat into your time but your energy levels too. Hope that you get lovely new plot neighbours and can enjoy your plot more in the future. Another vote for the right :)

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  12. Sorry to hear you're having to give up half your plot, VP, but it does sound as though it's the right decision.
    I'd keep the right side too.

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  13. Right side....I have bindweend in my home garden and it drives me crazy. The best cure for bindweed is to move :-) Besides you have the water and compost....sounds good to me!

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  14. Hi everyone - thanks for your thoughts on which side of the plot to keep :) It looks like the right hand side is your clear winner! Watch this space to see what the final decision is.

    PG - I use the manure heap for growing squash too (they love it), so it does have a day to day use as well

    Janet - how perceptive you are :) I am indeed having difficulty in letting go

    Mark - of course ;)

    Jono - I look forward to seeing what you decide

    Suburban Veg Gardener and Kath - welcome to the blog!

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  15. I'd opt for the right. Don't forget to take empty the compost from the left hand heap and take it with you. With a little luck you'll probably find your new neighbours open to swapping future harvests too.

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  16. The Enduring Gardener - welcome! I've just met my new neighbours and it's very exciting. Much better than I could have hoped for, so I'm right in the middle of writing about it ready for tomorrow :)

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  17. Amazing that you have so much! It's all I can do sometimes to keep my two tiny 4x8' plots going!

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  18. Helen - yes, I'm very lucky :) Apparently the average wait for an allotment in England now stands at 14 years.

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