Flush with my swag of Christmas gifts…

Flush with my swag of Christmas gifts – two sets of trowels and forks; Sarah Raven’s Garden Diary, The Great Vegetable Plot and an obscene number of back issues of Grow Your Own, and Kitchen Garden monthly it was natural that I was fretting on the phone call from the Allotment Secretary. He has mentioned that I would find out how far up the waiting list I had leapt in the New Year. But January 8th was as late as I could manage.

Called. He couldn’t promise any news until March. But then rang back and suggested I might be able to share a plot with someone who had taken on a large allotment and couldn’t cope. I must have sounded lukewarm in my response as I had visions of bickering over space with someone. But I agreed to speak to the mystery woman named Jana – a Czech woman from Swiss Cottage (another Camden long wait list resident).

She agreed in theory over the phone and I whooped for joy. As did David who had crept down the stairs to listen in to my nervous phone call.  He knew that if I missed out this year there would be Bleatings For Us To Move. So he was hoping that I would be assuaged by this bit of garden. Sadly not outside the French windows, but a 30 minute commute out into the hinterland. That’s Brent Cross to you.  The allotment site (officially called Hospital Fields) is massive. Over 180 allotment holders have their assorted cages, glasshouses, sheds, and crops in varying degrees of disorder up there. I had already gone on a site visit in October to meet the genial Secretary and try and position my plight closer to the top of the waiting list.  I had no hope of getting a full plot; and just wished for something away from the heaving traffic of the North Circular highway just outside the gates. It was a lottery but I felt keen for any patch of soil.

Another phone call to Jana who has agreed in a formal admittance that the plot is too much and she won’t want more than the quarter she managed to cultivate last year. And since then I have been walking around in a daze, stupid grin on my face and full of plans. Naturally I haven’t even seen the plot yet – we go next Sunday morning – but I’m planning raised beds, investigating damp proof membrane options, thinking about whom I can borrow a cordless drill, and dreaming, dreaming, dreaming.

Naturally I’m terrified that I will lose interest and let everyone down. My father in law is as excited as I am right now.  And I am naturally behaving oddly. How else can you explain ordering tons of seeds over the internet (click of a button and you are the proud owner of 10 kilos of seed potatoes), and lugging 25 litres of compost all the way from Kentish Town to home just because it was reduced in price.  Those flat packs of compost are deliciously deceptive. It says 25 litres (mental picture of how many kettles of water that weighs), but it looks so tidy and flat. Surely it won’t weigh a ton. But oh yes it does. First few minutes you lug it with confidence and awkward gait, but then the pack starts to go floppy in your arms and feels like 25 kilos instead. You start to curse the fact that your current garden is on the roof of a house four storeys high. And a further 15 minutes walk away.  Finally home. The cursed compost is sitting in the living room on the first floor. And won’t make its journey to the much needed and half empty Tasmanian snow gum eucalyptus tree until it stops raining and my arms stop aching.

As part of my investigation to see about treated wood planks and those elusive jiffy cells up at Homebase, Finchley Road, (the big DIY and garden store) I naturally find about 15 packets of seeds reduced to 50p in a huge jumble of a bin. Exactly the same varieties as the ones I paid almost £2 over the internet for that very morning. Grrr.

Elli took one look at my box of seeds and asked me ‘Are you planning a garden or a farm?’

Bliss; I have the whole afternoon ahead of me to study the books and get the information (a surfeit) into one place. I have found my old Mulberry filofax diary – gorgeous battered brown leather, and will use that. Sections for Vegetables, Monthly Tasks, Planting Schemes and Notes.  So far I am mining all the tips from Sarah Raven’s books, but will have a look at Joy Larkcom, Pippa Greenwood, and perhaps Monty Don as well. Needless to say I have become a pathetic devourer of Kitchen Garden magazine and Grow Your Own. All I’m growing at the moment are mountains of notes and post it notes in between the pages of learned texts. Perhaps if all goes well on Sunday I shall be doing my manuring and digging and raised beds soon.

David has come up with the name for my allotment. Sq Gardens. Very sweet.