Time For Change – Giving Up My Allotment Plots

If you have been following my blog over the last few weeks, you will know that I have been having some family problems that now take up a lot of my time.   On top of this we have a very anxious rescue dog that we brought home in October called ‘Judy’.

Right from the start it was apparent that she was not an ‘allotment dog’ as she is scared of most things and quite often just stands and shakes with her tail between her legs when we are outside our front door.  However we have all become very attached to Judy as she is such a loving dog and we refuse to give up on her, especially as she is responding to training with me.

This week

So all of this forced myself and Mr Thrift into making a very hard decision…..

On Saturday we handed back the keys to my four beautiful allotments.  It was such a hard thing to do as not only have I spent the last ten years working them and producing most of our fruit and vegetables, but as I stood and looked at the plots for the last time I realised I also have so many fond memories ….  my daughters planting and picking crops, playing on their bikes or on their swing and I remember them collecting ladybirds and making mud pies.  We also had lots of lovely family picnics there too.

However as my youngest daughter pointed out to me, these memories will stay with me forever.

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So what about my blog?

I’m still going to carry on writing my blog as it’s one of the things I love to do and I will still be talking about cooking from scratch, cleaning the old fashioned way, etc. but instead of allotment gardening I will be talking about my ‘kitchen garden‘.

I’m sure that you already know how much I love growing organic fruit and vegetables and I certainly couldn’t give up growing them completely.  So my blog is going to be focusing now on how much I can possibly grow in my small garden.

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So over the last few weeks I have started to transform my garden.

The photographs below show my back garden in November, before we had made the decision to give the allotment plots up.

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After much consideration, I decided that the top half of the garden would be my new vegetable patch and the grassed area near my greenhouse would remain, for my dog to run around.

My main aim is to grow as many fruit and vegetables in the garden as possible, but this will be a challenge as it’s a very small area with shade in some parts.

I began by cutting shrubs back and digging out their roots….and I must say it took far more trips to our ‘green waste’ tip than I thought it would.  I cut back the large shrubs we had (the choisya, lavatera, elaeagnus and the rosa rugosas) and then started to dig out the roots, but no matter how I tried I just was not strong enough to dig out the three remaining roots of photinia, the elaeagnus and a self seeded root of a pussy willow (which incidentally I didn’t even know was there).

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After cutting everything back this is what it looked like:

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  I was actually amazed how much bigger the area was than I realised.

I found lots of rubble and large stones which I piled up around the left hand edge of the garden.  The garden slopes down to the left so these stones will help to hold the soil in:

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I also found two slabs buried under the soil too:

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Unfortunately everytime my dog ran around the new vegetable patch she would end up absolutely filthy, covered in mud.  I decided to use some of the chicken wire from my allotment to make a fence to keep her out and I also made a little gate for easy access.

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After I cleared all the shrubs from the garden I then hit another problem….the fence at the end of our garden that was previously covered in the shrubs, was completely rotten and part of it was holding onto the support post with a piece of wire.  At first I thought we could just use screening to cover it, but if I wanted to use the fence as a support for plants then it just wouldn’t be possible.  So after much discussion we decided to go ahead and replace the fence….it was an expense that we hadn’t bargained for, but it looked much better afterwards and they dug out the three remaining roots for me too:

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Over the last couple of weeks I started to bring home things from my allotment that I wanted to make use of and some of my remaining crops.  I have been busy freezing leeks, carrots, brussells and some parsnips (I still have my celeriac and remaining parsnips yet to freeze).

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Unfortunately as the rent for the plots was due I had to leave some of the crops still growing e.g. curly kale, spring broccolli, spring cauliflowers, etc., but hopefully someone will have a nice crop from them.

I also brought home some autumn raspberries,  the currant bushes and the gooseberry bush that I only bought and planted in early October at the allotment and some chives and a few strawberry plants.  I also brought home a couple of globe artichoke and some of the wall flowers that I grew from seed too, and a hand full of jeruselum artichokes, a comfrey plant and a few overwintering onions.

I ‘heeled’ the bushes into the ground and planted the wall flowers at the front of my new wire fence and planted the globe artichokes, but I’m not really not sure if any of these plants will grow, as it really is the wrong time of year to move them….but I will keep my fingers crossed.

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One last thing I bought home was a few snowdrops from my lovely woodland area, as these remind me of my friend who passed away two years ago this month.

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Though time was short I managed to bring home my tools, nets, some woodchip (that I still  had bagged up ready to use), some large pots and some willow canes (to edge my new path).  I also managed to bring home my two bug boxes, some glass and some of the weed suppressant paths that I stitched up last year on my sowing machine, so I could use them again.  And finally I bought home the raised bed that I made for sowing my carrots into each year, the bird bath that I brought on ebay for £5 last year and the chair my dad used to sit on when he came to my allotment:

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I have an area in front of my greenhouse at home where nothing really grew due to the roots of the bushes that line our fence.  I already had weed suppressant in this area to screen off my neighbours garden from ours (unfortuanely they also had a new dog a month ago so our behaviourist advised us to do this while we are having problems with Judy), so I put the raised bed on the weed suppressant and filled it up with all my remaining homemade compost from home and topped it up with some of my allotment compost too.  I then planted the strawberries that I brought home from my allotment plot (again I’ve got to keep my fingers crossed that they will survive, due to transplanting at the wrong time of year).  Again I fenced this area off with chicken wire so my dog doesn’t jump all over it and made a little gate:

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So that is how things are looking this week in my new kitchen garden.  I have come a long way in a just a few short weeks but there is still alot to do before I am ready for planting.

I know I will miss my allotment plots, but I can’t change the circumstances that brought me to the decision to give them up.  By growing vegetables at home I will have more time for my family and our anxious dog.

My old allotment plots

My old allotment plots

I hope you enjoyed reading my blog today.

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48 thoughts on “Time For Change – Giving Up My Allotment Plots

  1. Awww! I know how hard this decision must have been for you as you have clearly put in so much work to bring your allotments to the standard they are at.

    I am pleased you have brought back some bits – including your Dad’s chair, which will continue to give you fond memories.

    Look forward to hearing all about your kitchen garden, and as a keen cook myself, I look forward to seeing your recipes!

    Simone

  2. its such a shame to have to give up your plots after working so hard for many years. Good luck with everything and I look forward to your next blog

  3. So sad for you to leave your beautiful allotments but a new veg garden to plan at home and a sweet dog to join your lovely family. Good luck with your future gardening and I look forward to reading your future blogs. Lesley x

  4. I’m sure you will be amazed at how much you can grow in a smaller space 🙂 A major change in life can often be cathartic. Good luck

  5. Look forward not back – that’s going to be a cracking vegetable garden and so handy to the kitchen and how exciting to be starting a new project like this – Good luck with it all xxx

  6. What a surprise …and such a wrench too. It all looked like such a lot of hardwork- 4 allotments was a lot to do.You grew so much & all that preparation of the veg for freezing ,bottling or jam making certainly kept you occupied. It will be so easy to pop out and tend the new ‘Kitchen Garden’ when ever you have a few mins. I like having all mine in one place (my mini herb & veg garden is by my back door) We will have even more in common now. Take care ,Carrie xx

  7. I’m so sorry that you have had to leave your allotments but a new chapter is starting with your edible back garden. Easy to hand and with the added bonus of the company of Judy. Good luck with your new venture. I shall look forward to future installments.
    xx

  8. Sorry to hear you are giving up the allotments. I love your blogs and was inspired to try to move last year to an ex-local authority house with a large garden but due to some tricky estate agents this didn’t work out so still have my paved garden. Did grow lots of tomatoes in pots last year though. Alas though my back is really bad so probably for the best here. I did wonder how you had the stamina to do all that gardening!!. Good luck with your garden!

    • I love the gardening at the allotments and I think the love of it kept me going…I am so going to miss it, but I can’t be in two places at once and I need to put my family first. Maybe things will get better in the future at home and I can go back to another allotment (or two) then?…but for now at least I do have my back garden.

  9. What a kind, generous lady you are. Lucky dog and lucky family. It will all work out for the best, I’m sure. You still have a lovely garden and will grow plenty there. take care (love your blog – full of sense) x

    • Thank you for saying that Marian. I know I am doing the right thing but it was such a difficult decision to make. My family are my world and I need to put them first, however growing vegetables in my back garden means I can be there for them when they need me (and I am certainly on-call alot of the time at the moment)

  10. A good decision I am sure, even if it has been hard to let go. Your new plot at home looks very promising, and it will be lovely to have everything outside your back door. I’m wishing you all the very best. CJ xx

  11. Your bAck yard looks amazing! Removing the bushes made so much space! And it’s a good thing you discovered the damage to the fence before your dog, or a neighbours dog did, isn’t it! We had the same thing happen to us, fence wise, and it was rather a shock as the children played around there all the time!
    Are you going to have plants growing in pots on the veranda too, or inside on the kitchen window? Hey! Your newer kitchen is going to compliment this new garden so well!
    It’s a shame that after so long you have to leave the allotments, but gosh this is so exciting!!

    • Yes, that’s the way I am trying to see it…an exciting project. Yes I will have pots on the slabs and in every place I can possibly think of. I am actually quite looking forward to the challenge of growing as much as possible in such a small place lol

      • I am looking forward to reading about your experiences in pots specifically, as I have been trying on and off with pots for years with middling success….not enough for me to be happy…and you are so clever with this type of thing!

      • Not so sure about ‘clever’ lol. I won’t have too many pots though as these need watering when we go on our summer holiday and my watering system can only water so many at a time.

  12. It is hard to let things go that you love but i am really looking forward to your “kitchen garden” posts, you have been my inspiration for our on going acre, at the moment 100ft x50ft will be fenced in, over the last two years we have covered the ground and are hopeful to get good crops from it all. Its amazing how much space was at the bottom of your garden, i have grown here at our garden and its amazing how many crops you can grow in a small space, my husband is going to put a raised bed in at the bottom of our garden for me to grow more tender crops, i am looking forward to this growing year.
    Sue

  13. It feels so sad to read. It must have been a tough decision. Your allotments were such an inspiration, and especially because you seemed so happy caring for them.

    Life is all about adapting to what gets thrown at us. I’m sure things will work out for the best. I can’t believe all the work you have already done in your garden. What a transformation 🙂

    It seems to take the council ages to get new people for the plots, so I wouldn’t worry if you have left things behind in the rush, I am sure you could still go back for them.

    • Hi Judy and thanks. There are loads of free plots available where I had my allotments so it will probably be ages before they are taken on, which is a shame as the soil is in great condition there. I think I have enough of what I needed-though I do wish I had brought my leaf mould home to dig into my garden soil as it’s not too good lol

  14. hi , just to say I look forward to your weekly email . although I have a large garden and a raised bed for veg ive not been able to get into it since October . Like you we had a sudden death , resulting in me having to look after mum who has dementia so I am almost house bound living 10 miles from any shops or people .. Your weekly email is something I really look forward to as it reminds me there is life outside this house , and its good to see the snowdrops appearing . I think your strawberry’s will survive as nursery’s buy them in a frozen form from Holland . To save space I grow them in grow bags outside then lift them into the polytunnel in early spring for early strawberries . Jeanette Wilson Date: Fri, 6 Feb 2015 16:03:51 +0000 To: jeanettewilson284@hotmail.com

    • Oh Jeanette, I do feel for you and I am so glad my blog gives you something to look forward to. Dementia is so hard to cope with and there must be so many times you feel on your own. It is very hard watching someone deteriate, especially when it’s your mum….but you are wonderful person to look after your mum this way and I know you will be doing this well. I really appreciate how hard this must be for you, so any little thing that helps to see you through (reading, TV etc) is worth doing. I’ll be thinking of you.

  15. hello,
    Sorry to hear you are giving up the alloments. but i am sure your new kitchen garden behind the house is a dream for the whole family. I wish you luck with your new garden!
    I need your e-mail address——please contact me……your e-mail address will not be shown.
    have a nice weekend,
    love and hugs regina

  16. So sorry that you’ve had to give up the allotments. It show’s what a wonderful, selfless lady you must be, as all of us on your blog know how much it meant to you. I’m so pleased that you are able to have a new kitchen garden just yards from your back door and am really looking forward to your future blogs, because I know they are going to be great!!
    Take care and hope you have a good week, Marise : )

  17. This is sad reading Lisa. I do hope you get a lot of pleasure growing good from your garden, albeit on a much smaller scale.
    Perhaps one day you will be able to take up at least one allotment again.
    My very best wishes,
    Angela (Devon)

  18. You have such a wonderful gardeners spirit. I can’t imagine you failing in your new venture. I live on .19 of an acre with a 3,000 Sq ft Victorian house taking up a lot of space. I have countered lack of space by going vertical with Rebar arches for climbers and many large plastic pots to discourage the 6 cats belonging to neighbors who can and have climbed over and under fences to get to my remaining raised beds.
    good luck with your garden and your pup.
    from Vermont, Julianne

    • Yes you are right, verticle structures are definately the way to go….also thanks to ‘Judy’ our dog, we don’t have many cats daft enough to venture into the garden (though I do think squirrels will be a problem)

  19. Hi,

    Really enjoy reading what you get up to with your plants. I have 2 allotments which take up a lot of my time when I am not working, and sometimes I feel guilty that I am there when I could be on the beach 5 mins away. I will still enjoy reading your blog, as you enter your new chapter.

    • Hi Tina and thanks for still reading and how lovely to have a beach 5 mins away. I do miss my allotments and I know I wouldn’t feel guilty being there…fresh air, fresh food and living ‘in the moment’….what more could any one want….you enjoy your time there!…and keep me upto date with what you are doing as I would love to hear all about it

  20. I came across your blog while looking for information on paths and I am sure you will get back in allotments when the time is better for you and your family. What I felt the need to tell you was I was told about these https://www.thundershirt.co.uk/ don’t laugh but do some research!
    I met a very ‘doggy’ person in the park a few months ago and one of her dogs was wearing one and it was transforming the dog he was able to go out for a walk on a leach and was completely calm.
    This person is one of those very skilled dog rescuers, totally at one with her dogs and if she says it works it works.

    • Thank you for reading my blog, it’s lovely to hear from you. It’s funny I was only talking about thunderjackets yesterday as I have read some mixed reviews about them. By the way, what allotment paths are you going to be having at your allotments?

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