The Good Life: Starting a family allotment

Like most families with young children, we are often grumbling about never having enough hours in the day for all the things we want to do. So, in our wisdom, we have taken on an allotment. As you do, just to spread ourselves a little thinner than we already have.

An allot-WHAT

When I say we, what actually happened, is that Mr G put his name down on the waiting list for an allotment behind our house a couple of years back. I think he dreamt of an escape, a man cave where he could be amongst other blokes and slope off with a book and a deckchair, away from all the glitter and Disney movies that a house of girls entails.

And just a few weeks back, the call came – that Geoff of plot 8 had moved on. (Geoff is, we have heard, doing fine and well). We were the new tenants of 5 rods of ground to cultivate.

Given we have a two year old and a five year old, evenings and weekends are all hands on deck. In reality there probably will be a time the hubby gets some peace out at the allotment, but if this is going to work for us now, it’s going to have to be a family project.

THE GOOD LIFE | Introducing our latest family member, allotment plot number eight, just behind our house. Feeling like I’ve definitely early my vino tonight after an afternoon of weeding and preparing the soil for erm, no idea what yet. Girls loved it which was a result, and I’ve already been tucking into some rhubarb and purple sprouting brocoli left by the previous resident. Good times ahead here we hope. Added bonus, the girls have been adopted by twenty five new Grandads and Ten new Nannies. 🌿🍎🌱🌿🐞🌾🍅🍃🍓 . . . . . . . #allotment #coolmumclub #thegoodlife #totsphoto #snaphappybritmums #snaphappybritmums #tribalchat #livingfearlesslyauthentic #pinklinker #happylittlebuttons #rhubarb #veg #growyourown #gardenersofinstagram #rhs #greenfingers #sustainableliving #rockingmummylife #thismamaloves #justkeepdigging #funseekingkids #chasingnature #outdoorsandfree #screenfreefun #whatevertheweather #homeetc #heyitsmrbloom

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Learnt from the best

To be honest, both my husband and I have precious childhood memories of growing vegetables with his Grandparent, and my dear next door neighbour (who was to me, my Grandad). Magical times and happy moments – ones we want to recreate with our girls. Plus we love our garden, and have filled every inch of it with plants and flowers, leaving very little space for even a gro-bag of tomatoes.

With neither of those great teachers able to offer us any tips now, we’re filled with nostalgia and romanticism of what we could achieve; what a testament to their memory.

As outdoorsy people, the allotment idea seemed to us something lovely to do with ourselves and the kids on those extra hours of summer daylight, and something we hope will get them away from the TV and us far away from the wi-fi. It’s just, y’know a bit wholesome.

The secret garden

And so, with a key and little else we set off to find out what lay behind the gate, and what we had let ourselves in for.

Turns out 5 rods is pretty huge – far bigger than I’d imagined we’d get for our £32 a year. Our plot wasn’t in too bad shape – a little weedy, and ready for some TLC, but we took home on that first visit some rhubarb, the end of the purple sprouting brassica and high hopes. We were just grateful we weren’t facing five foot of brambles, otherwise that key would have been back on it’s way to the county council faster that you can say ‘We’ve changed our mind’.

The allotments are quite remarkable – who knew that tucked away behind our street lays a secret garden, a place that seems a million miles away from the cars, the shops, the hustle and bustle of real life. The plots vary from chelsea worthy floral displays, to impeccably kept vegetable patches. Proud owners tend to their little sanctuary day in day out, and here, time seems to stand still.

Over the bank holiday weekend we worked our socks off trying to prepare the soil for planting. Weeding, digging, more weeding and more digging. Through the rain, through the back ache we soldiered on, wondering what happened to the couple who once upon a time wouldn’t see the light of day on a bank holiday weekend.

New Kids on The Block

As the girls rolled around in the mud and earnt a quid pocket money each putting weeds in the wheelbarrow, we drew a fair bit of attention from our new community down on the allotments. Between the four of us we are the youngest there by a good thirty and sixty years respectively. Assured it’s lovely to have some fresh young blood, we kept our fingers crossed that the pleasantries about the children don’t turn sour or our allotment dreams could be shattered.

With each passing person we’d stop, make our introductions and apologise for any innocent newbie mistakes – and any noise pollution from our two small gardeners. Day one was basically a write off.

That said, the girls’ twenty five new Grandads and ten new Nannies seemed pleased to see them. They pointed out snails to them, introduced their Cats and let them water their flowers. The girls were good, thank God. Helped massively by a packet of digestive biscuits and a bag full of toys, pencils and notebooks.

Geoff kindly left us two rhubarb patches, a gooseberry bush and a whole row of raspberry canes. A half filled up compost bin and a (I think?) wormery. Plus, a plastic chair tucked under the shelter of a tree – perfect for a passing shower.

All The Gear and No Idea

We had a rummage through the shed, having remembered we had some freebie seeds somewhere, and hit Wilkos. I picked up some gloves (oh my poor hands) and at least two dozen more packets of seeds.

So how hard can it be? Read the back of the packet and do as they say – sow outdoors 13mm below the ‘fine soil’ April to May.

Okay, so we can’t quite tick the ‘fine soil’ bit but blimey, we gave it our best.

DIG FOR VICTORY | With the mouse at pre school this morning I promised myself a butt on sofa kind of day – TV, laptop, a few admin jobs and linky bits whilst watching #madeinchelsea. BUT with no TV or internet whilst @virginmedia sort a few issues I found myself back down at the allotment, digging for England. No idea what I’m doing really but chucked in a few seeds… will they grow? Who knows. It’s actually strangely relaxing just being alone up there, away from everything and listening to the birds. And also bloody knackering. #DontNeedToGoToTheGymToday Erm, don’t have gym membership anyway 😂 . . . . . . . #coolmumclub #totsphoto #perfectandproud #rockingmummylife #clickinmoms #littlefierceones #childhoodunplugged #thismamaloves #366daysofpositive #myhappycapture #thismamaloves #funseekingkids #thatsdarling #funseekingkids #oureverydaymoments #cameramama #littlefierceones #ig_motherhood #pixelkids #cherisheverymoment #thehappynow #rememberingthesedays #littleandbrave #childofig #pinklinker #happylittlebuttons #tribalchat #capturingtheday #lionessmama #livingfearlesslyauthentic

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Whilst sprinkling rows of seeds into our plot, we were given lots of helpful advice – albeit after the horse had bolted, but worth bearing in mind for next year if we make it that far. Soak seeds before planting. Only use special seed potatoes. Use chicken pellets as fertilizer. Oh, and definitely get the seed going at home in a greenhouse to start them off. (Except we don’t have a greenhouse). Water loads after sowing with a hose (as I was sprinkling the seeds with a childs pink watering can).

A load of Crop

So we have seeds in mud, sunshine, water and a lot of enthusiasm. But will we have any veg?

If we only harvest raspberries we will be in quids in based on our monthly summer fruit bill. But, if all our crops grow, we might be opening our own organic veg box service. Here’s the inventory so far…

  • Rhubarb
  • Raspberries
  • Potatoes
  • Gooseberries
  • Carrots
  • Green Beans
  • Spring Onions
  • French onions
  • Radishes
  • Beetroot
  • Salad leaves
  • Little Gem lettuces
  • Cabbages
  • Pumpkin
  • Courgette
  • Corn on the Cob
  • Strawberries
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber

Let it Grow

So we may have just added one more thing to our to do list, and another distraction from the running, the blogging, the other 101 things to do on a child free morning, BUT I think this one is going to be a fun chapter for the summer of 2017. Perhaps if we only grow weeds this could be a one year wonder, but it makes a nice change from watching Frozen, again.

x MMT

My Petit Canard

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