|Plot 17 – The Earthly Comforts Garden|
What is it about the ARs?
|The view above is from just inside the front gate of Plot 17 and looking down the length of the allotment. |
The main image of this episode is the view from just outside the gate.
|I don’t know the exact size of Plot 17 just yet as l haven’t taken the time to measure it in the right way as in ‘rods’. Rods is an Anglo-Saxon measurement system that was calculated with the use of ‘poles’, of which one was equivalent to 5.03 m or 16 ft.6 in. An allotment of space, therefore, is dedicated to 10 rods or 250 metres square OR one double tennis court.|
I don’t know if Plot 17 is one double tennis court in size, considering that it is supposedly 23.77 metres long and 10.97 m wide, awarding a total playing area of roughly 261 m square.
As said, l don’t know – but l do know that the plot is large and an odd rectangle shape as opposed to, say, Mike’s, which is one overly long oblong.
I have had other tasks and chores on my mind since Suze and l took the allotment on board on the 9th of September, and here we are nearly a whole month in, and l would say in the 26 or so days since we or l have been working the land that it is now about 80% complete for stage 1.
Stage 1 was simple – recover, repair, renovate, rescue and recycle where possible. But mostly, it was and has been recovering and repairing for most of these last few weeks,
Plot 17 used to be a very well-kept and loved allotment by the previous renter, and up until March of this year, he and his wife had attended to the land’s growth plan with 100% dedication; however, as is sometimes the way when the passion dies.
Pete [renter] decided one day in early May that he had had enough gardening on the allotment and so decided to no longer bother attending to the crops he had planted in the winter months of last year and the spring months of 2022.
It doesn’t take long, especially in allotment grounds, for weeds to take hold, plants to run wild and bolt, and more if the weather decides to play hardball. Many of the allotment gardeners found this summer’s heat very hard-going and stopped visiting their allotment plots.
As l look around the entire area, the result is that there are many very untidy and unkempt plots. What l have also heard in the grapevine is that there may be more than a few of the 78 plots available in the coming months.
The average age here is 75, and whilst many very active gardeners are still here, many more are finding everything very hard and either giving up or ‘resting their spaces’ for the remainder of this year to review the decision to keep or let go come spring 2023.
Pete had also received a diagnosis that suggested he take it easy as his heart wasn’t great anymore, combined with a loss of passion and a new health threat. He stopped caring.
Whilst 17 was in better condition than some of the other empty plots it was still run down and needed some rejuvenation. The soil is good, although lacking in some nutrients. For the five years Pete had it, he had only ever dug in aged horse manure and whilst that is good as a dig-in supplement, it isn’t always hugely beneficial. The secret to digging and adding is to add variety, not just one compost line. So the soils need refreshing.
Easy enough, compost is my passion and soil management is a fascination – it can be fixed over time. Everything usually can.
We have split the plot up into several areas for ease of identification and nicknamed them – these are Polly [Polytunnel], Runner [Chicken Run], Daisy [Wildflower Orchard], The Strippers [Strips where fruit trees/bushes will be planted, Mucky Boyz [my compost and worm farming areas], The Rascals [raised beds] and Cottage Garden [the shed and the front plot to it] and all of them combined make The Earthly Comforts Garden.
There are 15 raised beds to the plot and all had something or the other growing in them from swedes to onions to strawberries to melons and so on. The two images above are from the far rigt side of the allotment itself near to and by the compost units.
The raised beds are still in pretty good condition considering it was Mike who had built them when he first had this plot in 2012 before handing it over to Pete in 2017.
|Overview of Plot 17|
Plot 17 is an odd shape. It is principally a large angled rectangle but also it has an additional attachment of land to the immediate right of the front gate. This was added to the allotment two years ago after Sandwich Town Council decided to block off and close a public footpath that ran through the allotments.
It was closed off due to dog walkers fouling the areas and not cleaning up and increased vandalism. Behind my compost area the savvy observer might see a wooden gate which was the entrance to the pathway.
Pete had used this additional space an area for growing potatoes at one end and keeping a rubbish pile at the other end. Suze and l will have our polytunnel here.
|Mucky Boyz and Runner|
This is a wild hedge made up of an extremely aggressive hawthorne bush which was incredibly overgrown and desperate for a trimming on the 9th September. it also borders my entire compost and worm farm area as well as it will over shadow Runner. Which will be good for the chickens with the shade.
|The composting and worm farming area will occupy the hedge line and around 12-15% of the entire plot once it is all set up and established. The double tunny composting unit l inherited [holds one ton of compost per box] was in pretty poor shape when l arrived on the 9th, but not for long. It was over run and filled with all sorts of rubbish.|
Again – not for long.
Was horribly overgrown and unattended to and had been used by Pete and his wife for growing potatoes [yes they were big eaters of potatoes] and was bordered on one side by Knobbed Russet apple trees [a very knobbly apple] and on the other by an overgrown fig tree and the front was occupied by nasturtiums and an aged and deeply rooted mint bush.
The middle was dominated by a three feet by five foot by five foot hight mound of green waste rubbish.
|The Cottage Garden|
The shed is in pretty good condition considering it is ten years of age and has very little signs of wear so that is great news. We need to attach guttering to it and an improved rainfall harvesting set up needs to be introduced. But that is at least a minimal operation opposed to having to buy a brand new shed. I did actually buy £100 worth of stuff from Pete and the shed was one of the many items alonside the double tunny compost unit and various nets and fleeces and so on with tools too.
The front of the shed has a plot of this season’s Gladioli which are lovely flowers and we will be keeping them. BUT not where they are, l will dig out their bulbs in late October and store them for next year. Their plot of ground is set to become a herb garden.
|Some things about sheds never change though …. the inside of the shed needed a really big tidy and tune up!|
|This season of The Allotment Plotters will introduce you to the Earthly Comforts Garden as we found it and how we have been recovering and repairing the soils and the land layout.|
|Next Episode …|
Plot 17 – The Earthly Comforts Garden
Assessing the Plot in Detail