One of the (few) perks of my job is that staff are allowed to create an allotment on a disused piece of land in the grounds. I say allotment – mine is in fact 3m x 2.5m, so really quite little. However it’s surprising what can be made to fit in such a small place.
I chose to dig my patch in a corner so that I could take advantage of the 2 fences (vertical gardening is a good way to make up for limited space!) It was hard going – the ground was full of rubble, bits of metal and wire. It took many hours and many blisters were acquired – eventually though I had a patch of bare earth to work with.
On reflection I can’t say that fence building is one of my talents in life (maybe thats why it’s also quite a short fence!) However most of the timber and posts were given to me for free from an estate where I volunteer – the rest I managed to scrounge elsewhere. Paving stones and bark chippings were also acquired for nothing using Gumtree. I tried to do this project by spending as little as possible because a) I’m skint and b) recycling and reducing waste is important.
My main aim was to create a pollinator haven where I could indulge in my passion for both gardening and insects. At the time I lived in a city centre apartment with no outdoor space, which wasn’t very healthy. There are numerous reports out there stating the positive effects gardening can have on our mental and physical wellbeing.
As the weeks and months went by my little patch of earth began to transform. I really enjoy the effect of planting vegetables amongst flowers. Not only does it look good, it has the obvious benefits of increased pollination for food produce. Most of my flowers were grown from seed – bought cheaply from supermarkets or swapped with friends.
Sweet pea are one of my favourites – ideally they should be planted from seed now to overwinter in a cold frame. This will produce strong plants for next spring which will flower earlier and for longer. A job for this weekend!
If you’d like an allotment you should contact your local council – rates are usually very reasonable although there may be a waiting list. The national Allotment society also have a useful website