This week we celebrate National Allotment Week. I was lucky enough to take on our very own family plot in the Autumn of 2018. Our little Plot 4 is situated in the Kentish village of Loose and is the village that I grew up in and returned to later in life.
The Loose Allotment and Gardeners Society
The Loose Allotment and Gardners Society was founded in 1884 and can be found at the top of Old Loose Hill with wonderful views down into the valley and beyond.
In the early days only ‘gentleman’ gardeners were permitted onsite with their ladies being allowed in on Sundays (shocking). In the 21st century at least a third of the membership is now female (thank goodness).
Our Allotment Journey
When we took over the plot it was very unloved and, to put it kindly, very overgrown. For a site rent of £25 per year and an initial down payment of just £20, for the plot’s shed, my sister and I had become the proud owners of a giant plot of weeds!
Over the next few weeks and months, we got to work, clearing the plot, fixing the shed roof and windows, creating composting onsite and building a planting plan for our fruit and veggies.
We recycled old delivery pallets into 6 raised beds and created a network of grass and shingle paths. All of our family got involved and you would find us all there most evenings and weekends, with hands covered in mud.
Gardening has always been a big part of life for our family. Our Grandad had 2 plots and provided fresh vegetables all year round. Being the charmer that he was, he would hand pick flowers, grown on the allotment, for our Gran and there would be a fresh bunch of dahlias or sweet peas on the lunch table every Sunday.
Growing you own takes patience and if, like me, you want instant results you will have to put up with the wait and the odd disaster when your crop doesn’t quite go to plan! However, the rewards are huge. There is simply nothing quite like the sense of satisfaction at harvest time and the joy of picking and eating you own produce. I have turned into a jam and chutney making expert too and there is nothing better than sharing the fruits of your labour with your family and friends.
Sense of Community
There is a real sense of community and the allotments hold various events over the year with the ‘Best in Show’ in August being the one where we all show of our best produce to win a coveted 1st.
Plot 4 was a life saver during lockdown as you automatically socially distance when on your plot. There is nothing better than getting a cuppa from the gardener’s shed and sitting back to admire the views and your ever-growing harvest. This year we are growing potatoes, courgettes, garlic brought back from the Isle of Wight, pumpkins, lettuce, onions, tomatoes, chillies, French beans, runner beans, cucumbers, marrows, strawberries, golden raspberries and cucamelons. We have also carried on our Grandad’s tradition of growing flowers.
The Good Life
A great way to start, is to start small and even if you have the smallest of spaces at home you will be surprised at what you can grow in containers. So, go on and give it a go. It really is a taste of The Good Life.