|Golders Green Allotment Association|
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|22 April 2012||Growing melons behind Tesco|
It was with great excitement that we visited the Hospital Fields allotments for the first time in March 2010. We had sat patiently on the waiting list for 3 years and finally John, the plot secretary, called to ask if we were still interested. Our arrival was not auspicious – we reversed into a parking space and within 5 minutes at least 3 people had told us not to do that again. It was our first taste of allotment etiquette.
The initial viewing of the plot was not quite what we had expected. First of all it was much larger than we had realised (after all who knew what a pole was?), and secondly, the site looked like a dump, littered with corrugated iron sheets and even a discarded toilet sitting proudly on a mound of earth. Weeds abounded everywhere but there was great potential. A small orchard sat in the middle and a shed somehow stayed upright at the end.
Enlisting the brawn of various children we spent a glorious weekend clearing the site and enjoyed the first of many “big burns”. Advice from other plot holders was sought and generously given, the most important of which was the revelation that another plot holder would rotavate the ground for us. The realisation that I wouldn’t have to dig out all those weeds was especially sweet – all I had to do was find him which I did with great enthusiasm.
We didn’t think we would grow much in our first season but we hadn’t reckoned on the addictive nature of eating produce that has been seeded, tended and picked by your own fair hand. We made mistakes – garlic must be planted early and tomatoes seem to be blighted no matter what you do – but the fertile nature of the ground as well as a bit of hard work makes a great combination. We took great comfort in the camaraderie of our fellow allotment tenants who took pity on the amateurs as they blundered their way through the season – we know now not to use a tape measure to space out potato sets, well at least not in front of anybody.
Family and friends have been amazed at what we presented to them, with particular praise being accorded to the 60lb pumpkin that I carved on Halloween.
In that first year we actually grew and ate a melon and who would have thought you could do that behind Tescos Brent Cross! Artichokes have been another great delight but my true love is definitely potatoes. It’s like digging for treasure when the time comes to harvest your crop.
We look forward to 2012 with much anticipation. We invested in a new shed across the winter using most of the wood from the old one and potato sets have already been delivered. All I need to do now is find a way to net the cherry tree to keep those pesky birds away, and we can get on with planting, this year’s delicacies.