Thursday, 3 January 2013

Yesterday's thoughts on the allotment...

Plot 376

I, honestly, thought that allotments go back to the 1900's, maybe when the World War II had just finished, but no. The idea and start of allotments actually goes back to 1649!

The practical need to grow food, is part of our history and as such, farmers etc...required small acres of earth for the food production. However, this was a struggle with the land.
This all goes way back to when the Saxons were able to clear land and use it for usage, until the Normans came along and claimed ownership. The first mentioned of allotted land, arrived late in the reign of Elizabeth I when allotments were attached to tenant cottages for compensation for the reawakening of land.

In 1649, somebody called Gerrard Winstanley led a group of men to take over land. This done well in protest of the people, who were being robbed of their land by the Normans. At this time also, food prices were high. Winstanley's men began to cultivate the land. He claimed that all men had the 'right to dig'. Winstanley captured man's imagination, however the protest was sadly killed by the authorities. Although, the spirit of 'right to dig' still lives in many of us today!

Disappointingly, during the industrial transformation, thousands abandoned the maintenance way of life and relocated to cities to work in the factories. Still, there was a change in the air with the General Enclosure Act of 1845, the Allotment Movement and with it came a new principle; local councils were to provide land.

This went on and on, until even public parks were turned into allotments. It was estimated that 1.4 million allotments were used to produce 1.3 tonnes of fruit and vegetables per year! I'd love to produce that many!
Today, we have higher interests for allotments and so much to do with them, such as combination of crops,  fertilizers, appropriate equipment and tools. It's amazing how they coped during that time, having only the simple compost and manure, basic gear and appliances, still grew as good as today!
I've got a lot of respect for the older generation of our society!...

...and looking at the photo above, if not, better crops!

In the 1970's, my Mum had an plot in Bebington Road Allotments. It is a great honour to be part of Bebington Road Allotments, where my Mum was.

I recall, as a small child, playing on my Mum's allotment. One memory in particular, playing on my metal Ferguson tractor, even chain driven, with little legs powering it. With my tipping trailer, I filled it up with my Mum's onions before they had grown, I understand why my Dad shouted at me now!
It would have been lovely to have had my Mum's old plot to carry on the good work that she did, but somebody else at the moment is doing a good job on that plot and being in Bebington Road Allotments is enough for me, a great privilege.
Also, everyone I have met there are brilliant too. Let's just hope that allotments, in particular Bebington Road, goes on for years to come!

Happy Growing gardeners!

Working with toys and tools...

Plot 376

After a short visit at the allotment today, with my two helpers, I decided, with it being a rainy day, to go home and do some maintenance work with my toys and tools :)
This involves in the cleaning, sharpening and oiling of my shovels and other various gardening tools and equipment. Doing this makes the job a lot more easier and enjoyable.

All these tools above, were bought from various car boot sales and I reconditioned them myself, except for the long shovel with the flat edge! That was from the local garden centre.

Also, I have another piece of garden equipment, which I like to class as one of my toys!
Areas Rocket Cultivator.

This is a very old model. When I got this cultivator, sadly it wasn't working and neither was the gear linkage. All linkage was twisted, bent and ceased up. Fixing this proved to be a quite difficult task!
However, as I treated it as a project to get it running, this became more enjoyable rather than a burden. After some weeks of work and concentration, I managed to bring this old, mechanical cultivator back to life! It is now completely restored and in good working order, I am quite pleased. I am also quite glad to how this machine has been lifeless for a long time and it just makes it so satisfying to put it back to use. I just can't wait to get it onto it's chores! Hopefully, this will also be able to help other people out, to make life a little bit easier for them, as it would for myself!

Little helper...

Plot 376

Today at the allotment, I took my little daughter, who is always keen to help. However, as she's only 3, she can't quite hold a spade just yet!
 Not much happening, since it has been very cloudy and muddy up there. We decided to drive round the corner, to see my good friend Rob's chickens. She loves to see the chickens, as you can see below.

When we first got there this afternoon to see them, she was quite shy and timid towards the chickens...

...but was soon holding their eggs confidently...

...and feeding them corn seeds excitedly!

Hopefully, she'll have a plot of her own one day. Her elder sister is also very keen to have her own allotment, she tells me she just wants to grow fruit, herbs and lots of flowers; which I think will be very nice. She also wants her own chickens, and our little helper can have a chicken of her own too!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Strangers?..or not...

Plot 376

Earlier today at the allotment, my good friend and member of the committee, Val kindly donated some raspberry bushes for me to plant in my fruit bed. Plus her wheelbarrow to collect and drop off at my plot.

I decided to plant these straight away. With my sharp shovel at the ready, this took no time.
I planted them all in a row along the bed, they will hopefully bloom in the coming season and spread.
I will also hopefully have some juicy, pink raspberries too!

Collecting these raspberry bushes today, I had a little chat with Val. Which came as a nice surprise that, she was a teacher at Kirkland college many years ago. The college where in fact I studied metal work and civil engineering. This came as a nice revelation to me since she might have taught me...
So what do I cal you Val? Do I call you Val or do I call you Miss?.. :)

These are just little surprises life can bring you...

Damp days...

Plot 376

Well, another damp and muddy day at the allotment. Sadly, these winter, dismal days tend to damage the long lanes, flood the plots and most of all, keep people away. But gladly, myself and my friends still manage to make our way to our allotments. I think it's the warmth in our sheds and the hot coffee and nice cakes, that keeps us going.

The only thing is, these long comfortable breaks postpones us from the cold, outside digging and the construction for the growing season. Lucky for me, I can only drink half a cup of coffee anyway!

Meanwhile, I'm out there filtering the bottom layer of my compost into my fourth coming potato bed. The worms I found today, would have to be the biggest worms I have ever seen. They must have been at least 10 mm thick and very long! I had to protect them from my little friend, the Robin. He's always around when I'm digging, coming quite close up to me. However, I would still rather looking after the worms. They do a great job in the ground. My good friend once told me, 5 worms on one spade full is good. Today, I had 5 or maybe more, which I can't wait to tell him!
How exciting, WORMS!