I’ve learned it’s important to take a step back and reflect. I noticed this with my writing a while back. After hours (with some posts) or days (with many others) of writing down the words and ideas in my head, I’d often feel incredibly jumbled up.
This feeling of disorderly muddlement is increasingly worse during times of pressure. And in our modern lives, it’s a common situation to find oneself in.
Despite the passion I have for the allotment garden, the variety of things that go on in life can sometimes make this pleasurable past-time feel like a bit of a chore. Something I never want it to become. The mixture of living – and everything that comes along with that these days – combined with the long hot summer made the experience of being on the plot appear a bit of a fuzz.
With writing, I realised the best way to resolve my tired and untidy mind was to close the piece down and walk away for a while. On return, the article becomes rediscovered, clean and I can see the wood for the trees – or rather, the spelling mistakes and bull-crap amongst the prose.
Recently, I found it is the same for the allotment.
It’s been a long and hot summer both on and off the plot and there’s been frustration in maintaining the garden and juggling life. I felt disheartened. As the summer came to a close, as the weather changed and as the autumn took its place, I returned from a few weeks away and I felt refreshed, inspired and also surprisingly excited by the crops and flowers that greeted me.
I’ll be honest, I knew this would happen. I’ve been here before. It’s why I know that no matter what life throws me, no matter the impression of mess and disorganisation with the allotment sometimes, it always comes right back around to this feeling right now. And it’s why I will never be without my plot.
It’s ok to feel this way. And when you do, here are 5 reasons I think a pause and reflection from the allotment is a beneficial action to take.
1. To take a break
Life is busy. Allotments require a consistent level of attention if they are to be a productive area of land. Sometimes, the combination of both can lead you to burn out and for our own wellbeing as well as ensuring the allotment or garden is always a space of enjoyment and pleasure, we need to take a break.
2. To evaluate accomplishments
I have a vision of what I want the allotment to be. How it will look. What crops I will harvest over an entire year. It’s not a clear path to get to that final dream because weeds grow, weather happens and sorry, but shit just gets in the way. When, as I explained I did above, you feel a little disheartened by it all, stop and remind yourself of what you have already accomplished. Having been a first-time allotment gardener before, this is something I definitely think is an important point to remember when you are up to your neck, clearing a site of other people’s rubbish and the jungle of bindweed and brambles.
3. To celebrate
Linked to the previous point is the act of celebration. It’s too easy, especially in the coolness of a New Year’s enthusiasm to get carried away in the actions of clearing (for new plot holders), preparation, seed buying, seed sowing, weeding, watering….. weeding watering (you get the point) and lost in the focus of moving forward. Absolutely embrace this enthusiasm to get stuck in, but stop and celebrate the successes, the crops grown and the flowers that bloom – especially when the busyness of everything takes you down a notch or two.
4. To review mistakes
Although I’m certainly not an expert, I’ve played with allotment gardening long enough to know, without a doubt, there will be failures. And not just the crops that didn’t grow. Failures in the things that needed to get done and failures in the garden projects we planned to deliver and never did. Relax – it’s better to expect that these failures will come and react positively than beat yourself up about them. More importantly, it’s much better to see every failure or mistake as an opportunity to learn and decide how to improve on the activity next time. That’s another thing – every New Year on the allotment gives us that chance. Embrace it.
5. To plan the next steps
Having a plan and vision for the allotment garden is important. I didn’t have one in the beginning and I wandered all over the place and found I didn’t get very far forward with much of anything. However, equally important is revisiting the plan and that vision. When you feel lost, frustrated or overburdened by the journey on the allotment, pause, do all of the things above and remind yourself of what you wanted out of the garden in the first place. Then, plan the next steps in achieving the dream – personally, I do this with the company of a cold beer. But you probably already knew that.
See you next week with some thoughts on garlic.
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