Sitting on the water tank drumming my heels on it like a slow heart beat, looking at this, I caught myself and realised that I was perfectly, perfectly happy.


Three brown butterflies were engaged in a terrible war above me. The garlic was growing. I had marked out my asparagus with canes and balls, the globe artichokes all seemed to have taken well, and I was moments away from accidentally kicking quite a large bee. Things don’t get any better than that, my friend. They just don’t.

The trick to wonky allotmenting – that is to say, allotmenting with some form of exhausting disability – is to pick a job. One job. And go and do that. It’s very easy to get down to the plot and feel overwhelmed by all that needs doing. It’s very easy to go home after a visit to the plot, having spent all your energy working hard but not completing anything, and to feel that you’re useless and haven’t achieved anything.

No, the trick is in that one little task. Planning it. Taking the tools with you. Clean up the border on this bed. Or mow this little stretch of path. Or plant out these ten plants. Weed two foot square of that bed. Something tiny and thoroughly achievable. Something that doesn’t depend on you achieving something else first (for instance don’t make planting your task unless you’ve already weeded). Then if you’ve any oomf left, go ahead and do something else. Or better yet, do what I did and sit on your water tank and drum your heels and let your soul sink into the cool earth and the cool sky.

The important thing is to go home with a win. Then the allotment never becomes a chore.

The tiny little twig trees I planted winter before last are blooming. I will have pears, apples, dark red cherries later this year. I seem to have planted a recalcitrant apricot which shows no sign of blooming, but I don’t know the ways of the apricot people and I’m happy to give it another year or two.




Thus far I’ve had rhubarb, asparagus, and a parsnip the size of Texas from my plot. I’ve also harvested Jack-by-the-hedge, young cow parsley shoots and young goose grass and had them in various broths (I’ve become Queen of broths lately). All very nice but watch yourself with Jack, he’s a bit acrid and better to have a few jolly sprigs rather than whacking great handfuls.  I’ve planted out four good size globe artichokes (two purple, two green), which are always so unaffordable in the shops. In the next week or so I’ve got nine rose bushes coming. Perhaps that seems daft, but (they were cheap and) cut flowers make a huge difference in the house. Everything’s alright when you’ve got roses.

The year is well under way. Grab your weeding knife and get among it.


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7 Responses to Allotmenting

  1. Julieanne says:

    Lovely post, I found myself smiling as I read it. I am also trying to follow the one task rule and I’ve just planted potatoes, taking breaks to lie on my lounger in the sun. Bird singing, the thought of the potatoes to come. It was perfect.

    Apricots: hard to grow here I believe, unless against a south facing wall with winter protection. Though being in London you probably have a more protective microclimate. I hope you succeed, as I’d love to grow apricots if I thought I could. I miss (from Oz) apricot pie.

  2. John Woodman says:

    Very wise. It is so easy to end up working for the allotment, and full of guilt at neglecting it.

    • chiller says:

      I love the work (when I’m lucky enough to be able to do any), but it’s much more about feeling at home in a context. Surrounded by growing things.

  3. Lebeautemps says:

    Scrummy pics. No apricot experience but a little with peach tree….related? Fussy things, the books I read made their cultivation look frankly arcane. (Sounds like a perfect Challenge Chiller to me) My dad, who grows everything, was chuffed when I had one delivered to him, thinking it was an acknowledgement of his garden mastery.
    I was just looking for an alternative to socks on his birthday.

  4. The Goldfish says:

    This is my first year with a garden, and although I knew I would enjoy watching the birds, but I had no idea how much I would love it and how involved I would become. I can’t do digging or much weeding (there’s a large gravel patch which dandelions have almost colonised), so I’ve just been fiddling about with seeds and pots. Bigger and bigger pots as everything has grown.

    I meant to comment on this last week, but today there are flowers on my pumpkin plants, so I was reminded of your post. It is very exciting.

    Probably going to need some help soon, but we’ve been recommended a pair of women in the village who call themselves “The Lady Gardeners.” The person who told us this didn’t seem to think there was anything funny about that.

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