The shed arises

Adventures of an allotmenteer: Part Three

Last month the lorry delivering my shed had been unable to make it down the lane to the Rye Harbour allotments and unloaded it instead on the nearest verge. From here my neighbour’s son Lee and his mate Herring had manpowered it to my plot where we left it as a stack of panels awaiting assembly by my two sons under instruction from Dad.

Leaving the drill charging and the boys gathering various tools, I caught the train up to Darlington to visit my parents as Pops wasn’t well. Pops and I had first tackled the weeds at the plot on Boxing Day. He had been due to visit us in Rye and I was sorry not to be able to show him the progress made.

Back from the North and on a crisp frosty morning, my husband walked me round to the allotment where he proudly presented the newly erected summer house. It stood sturdily with its back to the early sun, it was certainly a handsome structure and the result of a great family team effort. Now, if it rains while I’m gardening, I pop inside, sit in the old director’s chair, unscrew the flask for a cup of hot tea and with the doors open, enjoy watching it pour down, snug in the cosiness. It is no surprise that people form such strong attachments to their sheds, this was a great me space.

The finished shed - complete with grass
The finished shed – complete with grass

With the shed built and a lot of the plot smothered in plastic trying to kill weeds by light deprivation, it was time to plant something. Having removed barrow loads of couch grass and raked an area of soil level, I was going to seed some nice grass, a combination of the tasty sounding Chewings Fescue and the appropriately named, Rye grass. In our Harbour home we have a tiny shingle garden so creating a small grassy area to enjoy on sunny days was important.
Keen to try to get this grass sown before the Easter holidays I stood with a bag of seed in the denoted lawn area and proceeded to “broadcas” it dramatically to the “left and right and top to bottom”, as the instructions dictated, until all the contents were scattered on the ground. My prepared soil was not the fine “tilth” that had been suggested and was too lumpy to rake any further. I left the seed where it had landed, stuck canes in the ground to mark a boundary, tied bits of string between them to deter birds and went on holiday.

Two weeks later the dog and I hot footed it along to the plot, where I hoped to see a brilliant green rectangle. What I saw was a sort of mouldy coloured shape. Peering closely, David Bellamy style, I could see, with my glasses on that the mould was indeed tiny little blades of grass, packed together in some areas and sadly completely absent in others. Perfect grass was not so easy to achieve.

With the coming of sunshine and warmer days there was a sudden frenzy of activity on the allotment. People I hadn’t seen before appeared with wheel barrows of manure heading to secret places. The solitude and quiet of winter gave way to an overture of power tools. Julian gardens his plot with his partner George, who incidentally is female, as in George from the “Famous Five” except this George doesn’t have a dog, much to Julian’s relief as he’s not keen on dogs that bark, like mine. Julian has even suggested that I purchase a water pistol to fire at the pooch when he opens his jaws to woof.

Julian, along with several other gentlemen at the allotments are very keen on power tools. First a strimmer sliced through tall grasses and weeds, next a flame thrower burnt what the strimmer had missed then a rotovator groaned and thrust its way through the rest, and all within a week, Julian’s plot was ready for planting. I did wonder whether I should be doing a spot of flame throwing myself and save quite a bit of time as I am still digging with over half the site still to do.

One morning at the beginning of our walk, the dog and I passed Bicycle Bill’s bicycle propped against a fence, this is the sign that Bill is at his allotment. I have been told that what Bill doesn’t know about growing things isn’t worth knowing so it’s always good to have a chat with him. This morning here he was, walking happily towards us, wearing a deeply satisfied expression chewing something obviously delicious.

Assuming he had just plucked something lovely and fresh directly from his plot I was curious to know what it was that was so tasty and growing at this time of year,

“Oooh” I asked “what’s that you are eating Bill?” expecting him to say radish, sprout tops or something like that, but he answered with a twinkle in his eye, “Milky Way, am allowed two a week and I’m enjoying this one for breakfast this morning . . . ” I know he definitely isn’t growing those on his allotment.

I have managed to get a first crop planted, a tad shrivelled but some “Mozart” seed potatoes are now six inches underground, a bit late for an early, or second early, come to think of it or maybe they are main crop, but if they don’t actually produce any potatoes I understand that they are very good for the soil.

Photos: Sarah Nelson

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  1. Enjoyed reading this article and looking forward to viewing sometime and sampling the produce. Well done all of you.

  2. Looking fantastic well done all of you! Can just picture you in the shed with your flask. Very atmospheric and fun story. Nikki

  3. I love my shed too! It is, as you say, me space! It’s not just men who enjoy sheds! Mine is ‘bespoke’ as my dearly beloved built it mostly from ‘what he had laying around’!
    Glad you are enjoying your gardening. It soothes the soul, even if it can be very frustrating at times!
    Carry on the good work.


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