I love my allotment, I really do. It’s a proper sanctuary, where I can sit and hear nothing but birdsong and the wail of police sirens bombing up the Welli Road.
However, it’s also stressful. More often than not, I arrive to find whatever good work I did on my previous visit has been eradicated by weeds and pests. One step forward, two steps back.
An example: The Italian kale I planted out and covered with a cloche a few weeks back is now a row of devoured stumps. I can feel the disapproval of the army of Old Boys whose plots look immaculate, all year round.
At this time of year, even though lots of things are still cropping – beans, pumpkins, toms, raspberries, sweetcorn, peppers, chillies, carrots, beetroot and peas – I feel like ripping it all up and starting again. I must resist the urge for a month or so more.
Having four kids in tow, and a Bloke who doesn’t set foot inside the padlocked gates, means time at the allotment is short and erratic. The children have phases where they love going and hate going in equal measure. The filth factor must be taken into consideration. Is it an appropriate time to let them go feral when they are due somewhere later looking clean and tidy?
Despite the drawbacks, the pleasure gained from seeing piles of produce which would have cost stupid money at the supermarket makes it all worthwhile.
Maybe I just need to stop giving a toss what others think and enjoy it for what it gives us.
Peace and vegetables. I might make that my mantra. All together now: Peace and vegetables.