Tuesday, 20 August 2013


I have wasted a whole summer doing someone else's garden. OK, I needed the money, and I will still find it hard to manage without it, but meanwhile my own two allotments have gone to rack and ruin while I have been wasting energy, time and electricity pruning bloody bushes, which only grow again, and look ugly anyway. Is there anything so useless as an ornamental bush that doesn't even have beautiful flowers like an apple tree or a hawthorn? Or as tubs of bizzy lizzies when you could have snapdragons and hollyhocks? Still, I've given in my notice now, and have approx. two months to get both my allotments cleared and dug over and ready for the winter. I am ashamed of the state of them.

Friday, 26 April 2013


Spadey came into the shop today when I was there with Eric and Tim. Without stopping to greet us, he said, "Who's doing the allotment now, then?" I looked sheepish and said, "Me", to which he riposted, "I thought it was under consideration!". "Well, someone had to do it!" I said, and before anyone could discuss it further, he stormed out, saying it was "disgusting".

Spadey (sometimes known as "Spade-hands", one can only imagine why) had the Lechlade allotment last year. Before him an old Lechlade man had had it forever, since the days of clay pipes probably. Spadey did a good job on it, but he left the shop under a cloud in August. He used to have a big unit there, but he thought the shop was going bust, so he left in a very unpleasant way. He wouldn't be able to have his unit back, so God knows why he thinks he would be allowed to have the garden back. Trouble is, he probably blames me for the fact that he can't have it back, and probably thinks I couldn't wait to get my hands on it. Whereas in fact, I only asked if I could have it about a month ago, and then because I knew Spadey wouldn't be allowed to have it and I couldn't bear to see it go to rack and ruin.

Even more spuds!

Planted a long long row of Jersey Royals on the Lechlade allotment today. I only had a couple of hours, and rain interrupted my work half way through, but I got it done. One more row to get in on Tuesday, the Lechlade Desirees, then I'll be done.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

John mowed the path

Old John came out today to mow Big John's lawn and the paths. He looked terrible. His hair was long and awry. His clothes were scruffy - he was wearing an old pair of jogging bottoms - and he had ink from a ballpoint staining his breast pocket.

He has a splendid petrol mower, but he could barely hang on to it. He managed to do Big John's lawn, then set off down the path, the mower almost running away with him. It ground to a halt near the end of the path, and he stopped to empty the grass holder. I said I could use the grass on the allotment. I'd just been digging a particularly clayey, rock hard bit, and had only just been thinking it needed lots of organic matter in there.

I emptied the grass holder, but he couldn't start the mower again. He wore himself out pulling the string to start it. I didn't dare offer to help. I'd already offered to mow the paths but he said he didn't want anyone else using the mower because it was "temperamental". I'd also offered to move the table and chairs off the lawn, but he'd said he could manage, though I saw him struggling with the wooden table.

He came back up the path muttering that "it must be flooded", which saved me saying it. I had decided not to because women aren't supposed to know things like that and he would've felt insulted if he thought I thought I knew better than him what was wrong with it, just as he would've been insulted if I'd been able to start it and he hadn't or I'd been able to pick up the table and he hadn't. Such are the ridiculous considerations women have to make with old-fashioned men like John if they care about them and want to protect their pride. I wouldn't have bothered with anyone younger.

The mower stalled twice more, and each time John pushed it laboriously back into his garden by his door. He obviously didn't feel safe leaving it on the allotment, even though I was there to keep an eye on it. After the last time, he drove it back to his garden and disappeared. After a while I put the garden furniture back on Big John's lawn. Old John had said he had two more bags of grass he'd already mown from his own lawn, but I knew I wasn't going to get them today, nor the last hopper full of grass he'd mown from the path. The whole episode made me feel very young, strong and healthy. I forgot to ask after Joan. I'd better ask Big John first, I think.

Joan's flower garden

I started tidying up Joan's flower garden yesterday. It is the patch up the top of my Swindon allotment, and when John and Joan had the allotment, it was her flower garden, and looked lovely. However, now it is overgrown with couch grass, and not many flowers have survived. There is one rose bush, some large daisies (chrysanthemums?), bluebells, lily-of-the-valley, some bluey geranium-type flowers, and a rhubarb plant, plus the fruit bushes I put in recently. After I got the allotment last year, Big John reported that John had asked him repeatedly when I was going to clear Joan's flower garden. It is the piece of ground nearest to their immaculate lawn, so looks terrible from their window. But it is going to take a lot of work to clear all the couch from it.

Yet more spuds

Planted another two rows of Charlotte potatoes on my Swindon allotment. I still have enough for more rows, but think it may be better to save some space for something else. After all, these spuds must be eaten when just dug, and even in my wildest dreams I couldn't eat that many myself, nor find enough people to give them to. The perpetual spinach and radish are coming up already, so I've watered them both and given the radish a sprinkling of Derris dust, as the flea beetle is on them already. I must buy some slug pellets to sprinkle round them too.

Derris is now banned, I don't know why, but I still have about half a canister left.

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

The primrose path

The pathway to the allotment runs along the side of the shop (in the distance on the right), then beside someone else's cottage and garden (on the right). So far I have seen no-one there at all. The path is lined with primroses at the moment, and is incredibly beautiful. I feel so lucky to be there.

Besides this, the path is sprinkled with daisies, and beside the path here are periwinkles (Vinca minor). It is an idyllic place to be, even despite the traffic roaring past on the road beneath the wall.