Everyone wants an allotment garden.
There’s been a consistent level of demand for plots for over a decade and although, over the years, there are some peaks and troughs in the number of those eager to grow their own veg, the amount of people on waiting lists across the UK is high. In 2015, one third of councils had a waiting list of 100-400 people.
Head over to Instagram and search for allotment gardening related tags and you will be swamped with a huge and fantastic community of individuals sharing their fruit and vegetable photos. And yes, they include smiling selfies from the plot.
The dominant age range of Instagram users fall between 18 and 44 with the majority of users between the age of 18 and 34.
As you scan the grow your own community on Instagram, you’ll notice this age range is reflected within this group and those regularly sharing their allotment pics are young adults with busy modern family lives – Millennials.
This is fantastic. However, I know how difficult it can be to keep on top of modern life generally – never mind the maintenance of an allotment garden too.
I’ve just spent the last six weeks enjoying the summer holidays with my family. It’s been a tricky time with Ava off school, keeping her entertained and balancing a busy period in work too. Even outside the summer holidays, juggling our work, our chores and maintaining a healthy social life is hard.
This is a matter of both necessity and choice. There are things I have to do and there are things I choose to do. The choices are weighted and I definitely try to choose being on the allotment garden as a part of my life.
It does mean that sometimes I don’t get as much time as I would like to spend on the plot and sometimes things don’t get done and I’m often playing catch up. The benefits of having the allotment in my life still completely outweigh the downsides.
The summer is not quite over, but I’ve begun my reflection on the allotment year a little early.
There are a number of reasons for this.
It’s not been my greatest year on the plot. The Beast from the East forced a late start and some tragic losses early in the year. And the freezing temperature made even some plot preparation a little bit difficult too.
The latter part of spring and the early summer was a promising time though, and although I’m feeling a little disheartened with the garden right now, I had a pretty good supply of produce during this period.
Then the heatwave hit. It lasted over 12 weeks and it was an incredibly difficult time. Plants were lost as I couldn’t keep up with the watering – especially in the new polytunnel. And second and third sowings came to nothing because the dry conditions made it very difficult to germinate any seeds. The extreme temperature also made it difficult to do any development work in the allotment garden too.
I’ve also had a busy time in work. And although I have a flexible 9-5 job, I’ve felt so tired and drained. This has impacted on my motivation to get to allotment as often as I would like. The weeds have had a field day and there are empty beds and gaps which are such a waste of space.
There’s also been the school summer holidays and this has meant going away for a week or two. Which I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. But it has meant, combined with the issues above, the allotment has been a little unloved in 2018.
Reflection is important with anything you do. It’s an opportunity to think about your experience and assess your way of working and what you’ve done. We all make mistakes. The important thing is to evaluate what went wrong and to decide how you can do things differently. Ultimately, it makes us better at the things we are trying achieve.
Every year I learn something about allotment gardening and how I can make the next year even better.
I’m back and I’m hitting the plot hard over the next few weeks. I’ve some exciting developments to keep me busy and a whole 30 square feet of untouched allotment to turn into something special. I’m also working a new sharpen your spades project which I hope will enable me to share more of my grow your own journey with you. More of that in a few weeks time.
Embrace modern family life. And know that allotment gardening can be such a significant part of it. Just remember, you can’t do everything all of the time. But, that’s part of the fun.
London, Summer 2018
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