Get a life, get an allotment!

Columnist Kate Levick
Columnist Kate Levick
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When I got my allotment two years ago, it was an abandoned jungle – derelict and full of weeds with a shed, a dilapidated greenhouse and a few onions gone to seed!

What motivated me was precious childhood memories of picking tomatoes in my grandad’s greenhouse. I can remember the amazing smell still and that started me wanting to grow things. I started with pots on the window sill but the next move was an allotment. My husband was worried it would take all my time, but I tackled it on my own. I started at one end and worked my way along the plot with no idea what I was doing at first. Fortunately, there’s a lovely lady down there who has given me so much help and advice. She helped me pick the right plot, gave me some plants to start and has spurred me on. I started with basics like onions, potatoes and what is now a huge raspberry bush producing a massive amount of fruit. I’ve since graduated to varieties you can’t get in the shops or are very expensive which I enjoy experimenting with: lemon cucumbers, tiger-striped tomatoes, blueberries and okra – delicious in curries and stews.

I just love planting, then seeing things come to fruition. The community spirit down at the allotment is tremendous – everyone helps each other: couples, young families, elderly people. We swap plants and skills, water each other’s plots when we are on holiday and have work days to look after the communal areas. The treat to inspire us is the barbecue in the spring or afternoon tea in the poly tunnel at the end! One chap kindly helped me take down the old greenhouse I inherited and put a new one up.

I am getting wonderful crops of apples, pears, plums, red and blackcurrants, strawberries and rhubarb. I’ll have my potatoes and onions stored for winter – our produce really does keep us going throughout the year. I don’t need to buy anything from the supermarket during the summer, so I definitely save money – despite allotments increasing from £25 to £80 while I have had one.

I have a desk job, so love getting out into the fresh air and the exercise of digging de-stresses me. Having an allotment will not be for everyone – but it’s my thing which brings me the deepest joy.