I am already planning for next year and adjusting to changes in my life. This August I finally became a grandfather, a little girl called Sophie Isabel Alice. My son,Andrew, her father, is not on a good wage, few young people in this "advanced" country are, and the mother is on maternity leave, so as normal at this stage of life things are not financially easy for the couple. While Maureen is enjoying being a grandmother and helping with the baby, I am getting food from the allotment to give to the family. Boxes of potatoes and apples have already been given, along with onions and a large marrow, as every little helps the family budget.
But with my own house and my son's to feed on vegetables, I am re-appraising my crops. Strawberries are delicious, but they are not a very productive crop, so there will be fewer of them next year and more staples like potatoes, onions, leeks and carrots, along with sweet corn and pumpkins. We have another son returning to England and getting married next August, keen to start a family soon after marrying, so there may be even greater pressures on the plot.
Some adjustments in the orchard section are needed. The raspberries have been in the same spot for some time and can only stay so long, so they may have to be taken up. The last time I left some in situ for overlong they developed a virus, not the worst virus, but one that prevents me planting raspberries in that spot for several years.
I am planning to erect another greenhouse, as the existing one has been a success. It is loaded with tomatoes and chillies, along with one young, fertile and quickly growing grapevine that has been extending its tendrils across the roof and is making me ponder how to peg it in place. In the first couple of years you get no fruit, and when the tomatoes fail in the frosts and I finally clear space in the greenhouse, I am going to have to do some work on the rapidly growing vine. The question is where to find the space for a new greenhouse. I am only allowed two permanent structures, those that are attached to a base, though temporary structures are not touched by this rule. I am steadily re-visioning the design of the plot. We already have a temporary structure to erect, but I am set on a permanent one as well
Andrew works three days a week, but twelve hour shifts, so he is able to reserve some time to help on the allotment on he remaining four days, and Constancia, his wife, is keen to come and help when the baby is a bit older. He is an experienced horticulturalist and she also had experience on her mother's allotment in Portugal, whence she came, so I am expecting some experienced help in the future. I regard an allotment as a family affair, for all to share work and produce, and this Autumn with Andrew back in Manchester and settled here, my vision of a family plot is coming to fruition.
All photographs taken by Frank Beswick