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Rising to the challenge on return to allotment

Green View by Peter Gudde
Green View by Peter Gudde

Well, it’s been sunny and dry for the last two weeks although as I write the wind has turned and there’s a colder feel.

Looking at the Met Office website we could be in for a dry spring, so gardeners beware.

I have returned to the allotment after a couple of years of neglect, and looking around at other plots, I have not been the only one. Like me when I took over my patch of North Suffolk, I can see one or two new faces hacking and chopping, taking down ramshackle sheds or using scavenged materials to renovate what they have inherited from the previous tenant.

My new allotment neighbour, a New Zealander, is in the process of retiring to Suffolk from London. He tells me that he and his wife come up the A12 every few weeks, find somewhere to camp or B&B then come to their new plot to clear the weeds and plant a few more things. Eventually, they will settle and then be able to get on top of the whole biodiversity that is a lapsed allotment.

They bring with them useful stuff they have reclaimed from house clearances and the streets of the Capital. Nothing has been bought new and that’s probably the norm for most of the allotments.

Having ignored my shed for a couple of winters, I can see it is looking in need of some attention. It’s lost some of its felt and has a definite lean to the south – those Arctic winds have taken their toll. My son has said that he wants a building project for the summer so maybe this is it – as long the structure can hold up that long. I will see what I can find around at home for him to use, rather than making a trip to the builders merchant.

The challenge with the dry weather and cold snap like this week, will be those of us who were trying to take advantage of a warm Easter. I got my early spuds and onions in the ground at the beginning of April and trusted to moist soil and spring sun. I avoided sowing anything outside because I know that what I grow usually gets outcompeted unless I can actually see it. Onion sets okay, carrot seedlings no hope.

The other challenge for me will be maintaining a sustained effort to harvest time. I am feeling keen although I am sure effort levels and available time will vary. So, wish me luck and let’s hope for the right sort of weather and willing spirit.

-- Peter Gudde is environment manager for Forest Heath and St Edmundsbury councils