Many years ago when the Gees lived in east London, and I commuted regularly to an
orifice office that was located away from my home [fancy! did they still have typewriters? Horse-drawn omnibuses? Public executions? – Ed] I had an allotment. It was conveniently placed between our home and the tube station, so even on working days I could pop in, especially on summer evenings after work, when I could water things and come home with a bag of salad.
I loved my allotment. The Offspring enjoyed it, too. Our plot in London was bounded on one side by an abandoned patch on which fruit bushes had been allowed to run riot; and on the other by a plot laid out to grass, which I rented as an add-on to my own. I mowed a maze in the grass, and, when the Offspring had collected enough currants and blackberries on one side, they’d set themselves up inside the maze on the other, for a picnic. One gloriously sunny day in July I went to the allotment with the Offspring and spent a happy timeless time watering, tending, hoeing and harvesting, and when I had done pretty much everything I needed to do, I summoned the Offspring (they were aged about 7 and 5) for the short walk home. ‘Please can we stay for a few more hours?’ came the plaintive cry from somewhere in the tall grass.
But that was then. We moved to Cromer in 2006, and although we are blessed with a large garden, we have never had a vegetable patch of any size. And I have always missed my allotment. Until recently Mrs Gee has been head gardener and she likes to grow things in pots, on a smaller scale, though we’ve usually had a few vegetables and herbs for the table. This year, however, she is too busy for gardening as she’s doing Other Stuff (she is embarking on her Third Career) so I have stepped in. Think of me as Mellors to her Lady Chatterley. On second thoughts, don’t.
So I get to do things my way, and I have cleared a sizeable patch of ground on the sunny side of the garden for a plot. And here it is. The polytunnel in the background is the chicken coop: to the right of the path is the shady side of the garden, currently a shrubbery-in-progress, though some of it will be turfed in August, when one does turf. Regular readers of these annals will recognize this garden from earlier posts, of course. Over the past month I’ve sown potatoes, red onions, garlic, carrots, radishes, something called garlic kale, and dwarf French beans. So far the radishes have shot up – you can just about see them in a small green dotted line in front of my kneeling-plank. The garlic is following, as are the onions, although at a more leisurely pace. The carrots might just be starting to peep above ground though as yet there are no signs of spuds. I’ve sown some cucumber seeds in a propagating tray on a windowsill. After a promised spell of bad weather I’ll tidy up the front garden, plant a pumpkin in a planter, sow some lettuces and rocket and endive and… and … and …
Watching the plants grow is a never-ending
sauce tzores source of delight, and having them in neat rows will make it easier to keep the weeds down (in the past we’ve hosted what looks like the British National Collection of stinging nettles).
And I have found something very surprising.
I love digging. I’ll say it again. I LOVE DIGGING. Give me my extra-long steel back-saver spade and I can dig (almost) indefinitely. I’m starting to get the kind of endorphin buzz that athletes do from running. It never used to be like this – but over the past year I have shed five or six kilos and have had a lot more exercise than usual. This means I am fit enough – just – to start to enjoy digging, rather than finding it a back-breaking chore.
More from the allotment as things shoot up.