I’m sad to say that my enthusiasm went downhill quite dramatically at the back end of the year, it seemed to start with the closing of Wilkos! It was quite a loss not only to me but to the community, there were many bargains throughout the year and many of the plotholders on the allotments acquired their seeds, seed potatoes and equipment etc. to work their allotment from there.
Everything on my allotment seemed to be going wrong, my brussels all burst open, parsnips went over and started to rot in the ground and the leeks were attacked with Allium leaf miner. I had a large amount of carrot seeds earlier in the year which I planted in the valley between two rows of potatoes, they appeared to grow well, the tops looked fantastic but sadly however they were all decimated by carrot fly.
My enthusiasm plummeted and for the first time since getting my allotment about 16 years ago, I actually thought is it really worth it? I had very little fresh veg to provide for the Christmas day table, something I’d always been quite proud of in the past. Instead of feeling proud, I felt I’d failed. What felt like the final straw was I could tell my grandson was losing enthusiasm to come and help me on the allotment, I always knew that would happen at some point and I know from previous experience, the worst thing you can do is make someone do something they’re not keen on doing.
Supermarkets then reduced all their fine looking vegetables to 14p (you can’t buy a packet of seed for 14p for heavens sake) just as the email arrived from the council inviting me to pay my allotment rent – I can’t believe the timing of it all.
Feeling quite low I actually considered whether to continue or not but then I remembered something my late father would say to me ‘ if it was easy everyone would be doing it!’ – it always makes me smile when I think of those words.
I realised I needed to pull myself together and what would I do if I didn’t have my allotment? We all know once you retire, the chair in front of the TV can be your worst enemy so I paid the rent and I spent a few hours down on the plot when the weather permitted over Christmas, just generally tidying up and I have to say I’ve quite enjoyed the solitude, being out in the fresh air can be a great tonic. I realised that there’s far more to an allotment than simply growing vegetables, it’s a medicine for the soul. I now feel my passion is returning, I need to remember that I’ve had some great successes, the potato, the beans and salad crops we’re all great, cabbage and cauliflower and of course amazing sweetcorn.
Every year is different, thankfully the shortest day is now well behind us and plans for 2024 as usual are all in my head but will usually change almost daily. I also know full well that fine looking vegetables can be purchased from your local supermarket at a very reasonable price but sadly they will lack taste and goodness compared with what you can grow yourself……nothing beats harvesting and eating it on the same day, it also feels good to give away surplus to friends and neighbours.
Right, next job is to get my onion and the leek seeds sown!!!
Richard Thorpe 15b Syston Allotments
PS I will miss Wilkos