What the Wife Likes… The Good Life.

Beyond Rock My Wedding, sometimes Charlotte and I have a pretty monotonous life. It might appear glamorous popping off to London for events, but more often than not it’s late nights alone infront of the computer screen. So more often than not, I’m crying out for some fresh air and recently I have been getting a lot more of it. On my Allotment!

You see, I’m a closet gardener, or really, I’m not even in the closet. I’ve been talking to plants since I followed my Dad around the garden as a little girl; I can never get over the thrill of seeds poking their first shoots through dark soil and watching them grow out of nothing. So as soon as Pete and I bought our house (conveniently with a community allotment at the end of the road) I put my name down for a plot. And waited. For three and a half years! Despite my long term interest in gardening, while I had been growing up, and going to University, the grow-your-own movement had gone wild and allotments were the new cool hang out, or so I like to think!

Finally, last September, we got the call, we could finally have a plot… but it came with a catch. They were looking for people (read: idiots) to take on plots of land from an area of land at the back of the allotments which was being reclaimed. Completely fallow land, which had been a bit of a dumping ground locally. No mean feat. I was so excited I bit their hand off and when we went down to choose our plot this is what we were met with…

It was daunting to say the least… 3.5 x 20 meters of waist high weeds, nettles, brambles and a shed load of rubble underneath it. The top two pictures above were taken right from the middle looking up and down the plot. It’s long and thin and just seemed to go on forever! But we were mightily keen and set to work clearing it.

We started right in the middle and worked towards the fences that marked the border between the existing allotment and the reclaimed land and managed to get through half of it before the early winter took hold and we retreated to the comfort of the sofa. Not before I got my first row of plants in though!

Come spring, we were back out in force and so were the weeds unfortunately, but the progress since then has been immense. The plot is sloping and so we have tiered the first 5 meters or so and put in a brick path with all the bricks we dug out from the plot. That and salvaged from skips… I’ve turned into the reclaiming queen and Pete’s been chatting up every house in the area doing building work for extra bricks they would have tossed!

There have been a few mishaps along the way – in the spirit of keeping costs down we opted for a plastic grow house instead of buying a new greenhouse… I’m going to look out for one on freecycle instead. No sooner had we installed it but the winds came and I went down to the plot the next day, only to find it gone without a trace. Convinced it had fallen foul of the local tea leaves I was gutted, until Pete told me to look around, it had probably blown away. And there it was, upside down in a rhubarb patch half way across the allotment!

Despite being a gardener I had never grown vegetables before, so it’s been a fascinating learning curve. Weve made four beds for crop rotation. One each for Legumes (peas and beans) Brassicas (Cabbages, broccoli and sprouts,) Roots (parsnips, beets, carrots) and Potatoes. Apparently, rotating them is the best way of self fertilising the land and avoiding pests – remember those lessons we all had at school about the nitrogen in pea roots? And in the re-instated growhouse I’ve been growing seeds of courgettes, tomoatoes, geraniums (to be taken back to the back garden) butternut squash, broad and runner beans, broccoli, cucumber and aubergines.

And we’re not short of advice either. Every other plot holder has been wandering past, offering us cuttings, excess seeds and plants, or even spoils from their plot, all dispensed with tons of tips and tricks, (whether we ask or not!) In fact it’s hard to get anything done!

And the best thing about it? The thinking. I get so much time down there just to think. No email, no twitter, computer or phone ringing. Just silence, green and fresh air. The combination of physical work and brain space has been invaluable and I love it. It’s been something that Pete and I can do together, and as a complete beginner it’s amazing watching him get interested in the whole process too. I’ve had to supress a giggle or two as he asks me every day if I have looked at the beans sprouting up. 🙂

Of course, it’s still a work in progress. The whole plot is cleared but we’re still to plant out a lot of the seeds, finish the far end, (I’ve got plans for an orchard, some grass, raspberries and blackberries) and the weeding never ends…

…so as you read this, if you’re wondering where I’ll be, the answer is on the allotment.

Are any of you gardeners? Green fingered or not, balcony, back yard or the lucky ones with gardens… tell me if you’ve any tips for me and what you’ve been doing in the garden, or would like to be…

Yours Truly,

Rebecca
xoxo

PS Wish me luck too, the above statement is not technically true… in the morning I’ll be in Manchester city center doing the Manchester 10k (in an embarrasingly slow time). Give me a wave if you see me or drop me a comment below if you’re taking part – Good luck everyone running! 🙂

Author: Becky Sappor
Becky is at her happiest when dunking a slightly chilled chocolate digestive into a very warm, very milky cup of tea. She also loves her job and pinches herself every day to make sure that she isn’t in a graphic design dreamworld.

19 thoughts on “What the Wife Likes… The Good Life.

  1. I can’t believe how you’ve transformed it! Amazing! Good luck this morning with the 10k-I’m dropping Mr E off at the tram stop soon, I’ll tell him to look out for you!

  2. Good Luck Rebecca! Let us know how you get on!

    Your allotment is very impressive, we just have a few window boxes being in a 2nd floor flat. Unfortunately the last 2 years, the plants we chose (pretty flowers) didn’t last long – even with the Glasgow rains and our attempts at remembering to water them 🙁
    This year we have gone for box hedges as that was the only one to survive last year – so with the exception of a herb box by the kitchen (we seem to do OK with the herbs!) we are now trying to cultivate our wee hedges into different shapes 🙂

  3. Good luck Rebecca!

    I’ll be there cheering my man on, safely from the side lines, it gets pretty dangerous when I try to run!

    You’ll be great!

    Lora xx

  4. I would love to be as green fingered as you. I kill all my poor plants – pot plants in the house, flowers in the garden, everything!

    And coming from farming stock I should be ashamed of myself!

    The only thing I can grow is rhubarb. But that isn’t difficult – it flipping takes over everything! Oh and potatoes in a grow bag. My family would disown me if I couldn’t grow potatoes.

    I blame the soil in Chester for my disastrous attempts at gardening! It isn’t as fertile as good, old, potato sprouting, Northern Irish soil! Hehe!

    My other half is keen for us to be green fingered, self sufficient and up to our elbows in dirt every evening so when we eventually buy our own place a large garden or a near by allotment is a must. I quite like the idea of it! And he can teach me a thing or two – he has learnt from his dad who seriously has the most beautiful gardens you have ever seen. I would love to get married there if they weren’t on a massive slope – think of me tripping on my cathedral length veil, rolling down the hill past all the guests and ending up in the strawberry patch with a muddy, berry stained, dress! It is like something out of a carry on movie!

    Gardening is definitely becoming a cool hobby again! With all the readers of this blog, you will be at the front of the green fingered movement!!

    Good luck today with the 10k. I had a vague notion of doing it too but when it came down to the training part I realised I liked my bed a little bit more! Let us know how you get on!

    xox

  5. Good luck Rebecca! Let us know how you get on. I was hoping to attempt the 10k this year but didn’t get round to putting my application in on time. I would love to do it though-so maybe next year I could attempt it (alongside my new hubby!) 

    Am seriously impressed with your green fingered skills at your allotment.

    We have a small garden in which everything seems to die! Would love to have the time and patience to do something like that-it must give you and your hubby so much focus-and a real sense of pride.

    Keep us updated on the progress of your veggies-especially those beans sprouting up! Perhaps some of us local girls should pop round to your allotment for some green fingered tips!!

    Enjoy…xx

  6. Hello guys! Thanks for all the good luck messages here and on twitter!

    Did it in 1 hour 🙂

    Here’s the evidence! https://yfrog.com/hsf0bvvj

    Just going to warm up, then might have to head down to the allotment for an hour or two 🙂 – Loveing hearing your green fingered (or not!) stories!

    Hope everyone is having a lovely Sunday xoxo

  7. I love this!!!

    Well well done you on the 1 hour 10k, superwoman!

    Enjoy your allotment- I’ve just weeded our patio, and am glad to see I’m not the only one who talks to plants!! Can anyone help- we have these minging caterpillars on our lovely acer tree, and I have no idea how to get rid of them without horrid chemicals???!!!

    So impressed by all your hard work, the plot looks amazing now- lucky council 🙂 xxxx

  8. Congrats Rebecca, thats a brilliant time! I have just gotten back into running and I think I will make next year’s 10k one of my goals 🙂

    Your allotment looks amazing and I love that you are an out n proud gardener. Nowt to be ashamed of, esp when you see the fruits/veg/plants of your labour.

    Martin and I are lucky enough to have a garden and mahossive flower beds (thanks to his handy skills). He even left me some space for a veg patch and I think your post was the inspiration I needed to actually plant stuff! So thanks!

    xoxo

  9. I can’t believe you have an allotment, that is so cool!!!

    Congratulations on your 1 hour 10k…I would be rather proud of myself, and treat myself to something yummy!! xxx

  10. Wow that looks lovely! (I am so not a gardener!) We have a small garden which is all patio/decking/gravelly stuff….not though choice but mainly thats what we had to work with. I just buy plants as they come put them in some pretty pots and sit them in places in the garden. We did some painting and him indoors became him outdoors for a few days decking and prettying it up but thats about it. We can sit out in it and look at the trees around us and listen to the sound of quietness. I am more than happy with that lol.

    My sister on the other hand, is massive into gardening. She has made her own allotment at the end of her garden and has grown lots of veg/fruit/ and salad and tries to get her kids involved in it too. She is super dedicated once the weather is nice and does all the flowers in her garden too. Kudos to her. And to you Rebecca cos its hard work!

    Well done running, thats so not a pathetic time at all! I have only just started running and I am uber slow! I can only do like a mile in 15mins tops. And thats pushing it!
    I am making it my aim to get better at it in between the work outs and stuff to be super toned for the wedding.
    Happy sunday!x

  11. Well done on your allotment!! We waited two years and got ours in December last year, when it was all under snow… We haven’t been quite as productive with the allotment as we would have liked because of all our other commitments seemed to suddenly take over (including wedding plans!) but we had fun taking the carpets off it (don’t even ask!! First fully carpeted allotment I’ve ever seen) last month, and just spent a good six hours digging and rotovating before planting out a whole variety of veg and flowers today. Beetroot and potatoes will be our ‘go to staples’ while I went a bit crazy and planted out some artichoke too. Our goal this year is to enjoy the allotment, see a little bit of what works and what doesn’t, and then next year we’ll figure out the crop rotation and pretty beds…….I can’t wait!

    Congrats on your 10k and flying the flag for allotmenteers everywhere! xxx

  12. Massively impressive work clearing the allotment, sure I would have been scared off by the nettles. Also impressed by the crop-rotation plan – somehow the pot of basil I’ve bought for our 4th-floor flat doesn’t quite seem like enough now…

  13. Hurrah! One hour is an ace time. Well done! Make sure you have a bath tonight, otherwise there may be some hobbling tomorrow!

    Got serious allotment envy. I only have a little balcony and my pots jostle for space. I’m really impressed with how you’ve transformed it, and that you weren’t intimidated by having to scythe everything back. Also loving the sense of community spirit and the free-flowing advice!

    Clearing your head and doing something manual is the single best way to get the creative juices flowing again….so the blog will benefit from the crop rotation, too!

  14. Congrats Rebecca in completing the run in an hour, I’d probably still be walking it now if I did it…;-)

    Loving the allotment, you’ve both done a great job clearing it. We have a decked back yard which I’m normally really good at filling with plants in my blue pots but haven’t got round to it this year with Baby K on the way so it’s looking very sorry for itself but will have to try and get some colour out there as I love sitting out there with all the blooms and having friends over for BBQ, can’t wait to have a proper garden one day!

    Hope everyone’s had a good weekend, can’t wait to see what’s on RMW this week xx

  15. Congrats Rebecca!! I too am getting into running (well trying to…) – Mahj, I’ll aim to join you in next year’s 10k!! Re gardening, my Mum is also a keen gardener and I’ve always grown up around plants, potting etc and this year, for the first time, I’ve planted up pots for my garden and am loving watching things shooting through! We’ll see how long they last before dying!

  16. Congrats on the run Rebecca, that’s a great time! Hope you’re legs are ok tomorrow.

    The allotment looks fab, really impressed how you’ve transformed it in such a short time! It looks very organised.

    I’ve grown up following a gardening mad Dad too so feel like I can’t have a bad looking garden. Since we bought our house 18 months ago we’ve so enjoyed finally having a garden to grow things in and sit out in the fresh air! We’ve planted some sunflowers this year and I swear you can see them growing they’ve shot up so quickly! I’ve got my fingers crossed that some will be out in August so we can use them for the wedding.

    Love to see more pics in a few months Rebecca!

    xXx

  17. Wowzers! Thank you for sharing this! Hubby and I got our allotment in January and it was a bit overgrown as well. It was hard work to make it ‘pretty’ looking ish, but it’s so worth it! We grow all sorts of veg and fruit now (some fruit bushes and trees have already been on it) and looking forward to picking our first crops! Nothing tastes better than food you grow yourself – you put so much love into it, and you know there are no chemicals. I wrote a little blog post with photos of what we grow a couple of weeks ago, have a look if you fancy >> https://exhibitemotions.blogspot.com/2011/04/growing-your-own.html . Looking forward to following your progress 😉

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