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Emily's Allotment Diary #1

Welcome to our new regular blog from one of the new allotment holders, Emily, at Vale Road!


December 2023

We’re fast approaching the end of our first month having an allotment and I finally feel like I can see the wood for the trees, although wood for the mud might be more appropriate in this context. The feelings of ‘Oh help, where do I start?’ are subsiding and there is a growing proportion of the plot that should hopefully be workable come the spring. It’s so much more motivating now that there is visible progress and I feel excited for the New Year.

Contractors clearing the plot
Contractors clearing the plot

It’s been a slog so far, but I was immensely grateful for a sunny Sunday with a few hours of childcare this weekend. I’ve very quickly worked out that wet, wintery days and children at the allotment are not a good combination, no matter how many snacks are packed or the small fortune spent on child-sized gardening implements. I should remember that from the many days of my childhood when my siblings and I would moan and whine at our dad down at his plot. We thought we were being tortured spending our Sundays picking out the stones and weeds with fingers numb from the cold as our dad turned the soil. And yet, now as an adult, those are the memories that made me want to have my own plot and the experiences I now want my children to have. Well maybe not those exact memories, but definitely the time spent as a family in the fresh air and the satisfaction gained from producing your own food.

Ready to start work!

The allotment is fast becoming my happy place - it’s so peaceful and wholesome.

It took some convincing to get my husband to agree to us taking on a plot. It’s a big time commitment with an already busy family life, but there’s not much I ask for. I’m known in the family for being the person that’s hard to buy for at Christmas and for birthdays. But after moving back to Claygate a couple of years ago, I think my husband had finally had enough of hearing me say, ‘I’d love a plot at the allotment’. Our new adventure has already given inspiration to family and friends for my birthday (earlier this month) and Christmas. A whole new world of gifts has been opened up, albeit a bit of an overwhelming one. There’s so much out there on the market! What do you really need for an allotment? If you’ve got any suggestions for things you couldn’t be without down at the plot, feel free to swing by plot 7a and let me know. I’m sure I’ll have a voucher or two to spend after Christmas. So far I have discovered that thorn-proof gloves are an essential - especially as so many people that have passed by the plot seem to refer to it as the bramble patch.

Lots of work already done.

With brambles in mind that brings me to one of my newest gardening tools. My dad came and looked over the plot recently and promptly bought me a mattock for my birthday. Now until the box was in my porch, I had never even heard of a mattock and I certainly had no idea how to use it. But with a little guidance from a very useful YouTube video, the mattock and I are fast becoming friends. Those bramble roots don’t stand a chance now! I just have to keep remembering my dad’s advice, ‘This allotment thing is a marathon not a sprint’. Whilst the mattock is proving far more effective than attempting to bounce my weight up and down on my fork to ease the brambles up, it uses muscles I’ve clearly not worked before!

Apart from YouTube videos and Pinterest, I’ve been so lucky with the people I’ve met so far. There is a wealth of knowledge down at Vale Road. Everyone has been so welcoming and, unless they are just being very polite, happy to consult on the best way to approach things. It’s been a really friendly experience, with plot owners helping drag pallets from the car park, offering to burn leftover logs or giving advice on the best places to buy weed suppressant membrane. We’re so grateful to those that have signed up to help as part of the working party on Sunday 7th January to clear the pile at the back of the plot. I’ll make sure to bring refreshments as a thank you!

lots of brambles to remove

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Wonderful Newsletters Ann and Kat...

Great blog Emily. Welcome to Vale Road allotments.

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