As life changes, so do your activities. For more than twenty years I had been cultivating an allotment of 300 square yards through rain and shine, and all sorts of political and social situations. I had been on it one sunny day when news of the 9:11 atrocity broke. I still remember it clearly. So why have I gone down to a plot of 150 square yards? Easy to tell: a medical issue has forced a change. Let's look on the brighter side, I am nearly recovered. I have much less of the back pain than I used to have, but I have lost speed and strength, probably due to age. Gardens take a lot of work, especially when you specialize in vegetables, so I came to the conclusion that I needed to cut down my workload. Going down to half a plot made full sense, and the decision had the full support of my wife and family.
I had already divided the allotment into four: a flower bed at the front, behind which was a vegetable patch centred on some raised beds; then an orchard and greenhouse section, finally a wild section, which was nigh to the road with its large trees, the nearest of which was a pussy willow, known also as a weeping willow. The rear section was there for wildlife. I chose to keep the two rear sections, but obviously there was going to be changes.
Firstly, I was going to have to be more efficient in my use of space. For example, there was some underused space adjoining one of the greenhouses, which I had covered with a tarpaulin and used for storage. My son, Andrew, and I took up the tarpaulin, which was cumbersome rather than heavy, and shifted it onto the wild patch, for which I have plans. Then Iaid down some ground cover fabric to prevent weeds spring up on what was a piece of uncultivated soil. After that we moved some of the tyre planters onto the fabric, stacking them one atop another. I now have twelve tyres arranged in twos. This year I used them for pumpkins and have had a lovely pumpkin soup from them. Same again next year!
One move for which I needed help was to move the combined benches and picnic table. It was cumbersome, and we wanted to set it under the apple trees to make a shady nook for picnics. Getting it between the greenhouse and the trees was going to be tricky, but Andrew simply lifted it through. I also got some assistance in moving the raised beds, but there is still work to be done in laying geotextile fabric under them.
My plans for the wild section include planting some rhubarb in the compost heap. But to avoid having vegetables compete with tree roots I have begun placing containers on the tarpaulin to make a container garden. I will probably grow leeks, parsnips and carrots. There will still be some bits left wild for the butterflies.
There is still clearing to do, but as all crops are harvested there is none of the urgency of the growing season. It is time for a rest.