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The Allotment Diary - getting started

I’ve read the recent articles in the last few issues of Barrow Voice about keeping an allotment with interest and would like to share some of my allotment experiences with you.

I’m a relative novice as far as vegetable gardening is concerned but was delighted when, three and a half years ago I was offered a half share in a reasonably substantial sized allotment. I was so keen to grow anything and everything and thought all I had to do was dig, plant the seeds and in a few months time, hey presto! Fresh organic veg like I’d never tasted before. Wrong! If only it was that simple.

I was good at the digging and had plenty of energy for that. No-one told me about nutrients for the soil. I just thought that, as the soil hadn’t been cultivated for a while, there would be lots of natural goodness in there! Wrong again. I bought a variety of different vegetable seeds, followed the instructions on the packets, made the furrows to the required depth and gently dropped the seeds in neat rows, covered the seeds over, even marked the rows with a stick but no-one mentioned they needed a spot of water to give them a healthy start.

I went to the garden centre in April and asked for some early potatoes. I was so shocked when the assistant appeared to scoff at me and took delight in telling me I was far too late for earlies! I must confess I hadn’t got a clue why potatoes had to be designated with these titles of 1st earlies, 2nd earlies and lates. I was under the impression that potatoes are potatoes and you stick them in the ground and they grow. Wrong! Well they did grow but not very well mainly because the soil needed a good dose of manure.

My first year was - I think you’ll agree - a bit of a disaster. I did manage to grow a good crop of radish but then someone told me, anyone can grow radish. The kidney beans were abundant and the perpetual spinach did fairly well. I had a lot to learn so bought a book about keeping an allotment, started to buy a monthly gardening magazine and began to have conversations with my allotment neighbours, probably the best decision I made but that’s another story.

Ginnie Willcocks