From Lucy Launder, Chair of Kingston Road Allotment Association and SLV.
So, what’s been the progress over the last year since the management
of Kingston Road’s “difficult to let” plots was handed to KFAG? I am glad
to say that all plot-holders went to work with great gusto with the prospect
of plenty of back-breaking digging ahead of them, particularly the plots
at the top of the site which had been severely compacted over the previous
3-4 years. There was much rubbish/building rubble to be dug up and
removed before the most rewarding part of having an allotment could
take place – the growing of vegetables and fruit! It’s been great to
watch the progress over the last few months and to see the results of
people’s hard work. I have made sure that the manure and woodchip
corrals have been stocked when requested and I'm on hand for any advice
if required but I suspect the main source of advice has been our stalwart
plotholder “Dickie” who, after approximately 48 years on the site is surely
the best qualified to answer any questions.
Let’s hear how a couple of the plotholders on sites 2A and 34B feel things have gone;
Honorata Glowacki – plot 34B "The first year was challenging in
terms of weeding but the work I put in last winter clearing the site
paid off. The soil is very fertile and growing most of vegetables
easy and fun. I was able to have an impressive crop of beetroots,
potatoes, courgettes and lettuce.
wonderful idea and I am so glad I took part in one."
Patricia Villars – plot 2A "In November 2011 I got the call saying that an allotment plot had become available, sooner than I’d expected. But there was a catch: the plot was in a bit of a state and the only thing that had been growing on it was knee-high weeds. I guess I like a challenge because I eagerly went ahead and signed on the dotted line.
I started out with just a fork and a spade, which I would hide among the weeds until I eventually got a shed. I wanted to do a proper job of it - double digging, forking in manure and pulling out couch grass - but the ground was so compacted that even jumping on a fork with my entire body weight didn’t always do the trick! Progress was slow, and after seeing me struggle I think Dickie took pity on me and very kindly gave me a hand with the digging. By March the plot was transformed and I was able to start planting out all the little seedlings I’d been nurturing on the windowsills of my apartment.
My first year was a very steep learning curve and the weather was all over the place, but for every plant savaged by pigeons or munched on by caterpillars I had another that gave me more vegetables than I knew what to do with. My potatoes, runner beans and beetroot plants were particularly successful. By the end of the summer I was showing up to friends’ houses with bags of vegetables and even making my own beetroot juice concoctions for bike rides after reading about the performance-enhancing benefits (you listening, Lance?).
Having an allotment has been very challenging but also very rewarding. I find it’s a great way to counteract the sedentary office work and get back in touch with nature. I’m just getting ready for spring planting again, armed with better knowledge and richer soil (thanks to all that horse poo), so I think it’s going to be a great second year. Now if only it would stop snowing…!"
Phil Bridges - plot 34A "I found it difficult to find adequate time
get to my plot in my first year,and as a result found it difficult to
stay on top of the weeds!
Despite that we managed a decent haul of peas, potatoes, onions
and a few other things. This year I will need to
learn how to manage my time as much as learn
how to grow things, starting with a comprehensive
clearing of the plot once the weather warms up a bit!"
In conclusion, I am hoping that this year will bring a further sense of fulfilment to all the KFAG plotholders at Kingston Road and also that they will continue to stick with it!