Squirrel's Garden

Blogging the highs and lows of my attempts at allotment gardening

Location: Sherwood Forest, United Kingdom

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

The Church of Nature in the World of an Allotment

The Church of Nature in the World of an Allotment

He sat on top of the post, his head turned with his eye to the ground as he watched and waited. He looked like a bird with a mission. I had rested my spade in the soil with the handle standing boldly erect as I wandered to my bench to watch him. He watched as I sat down and seeing that I was well out of reach he took his chance and flew to perch on the handle of my spade before hopping to the ground and grabbing a mouth full of insects. A blackbird dared to try his luck but was swiftly seen off. This was the robin’s territory and he was not going to share it with anything if he had any choice in the matter. Behind me I could hear the familiar ‘chk’ ‘chk’ of a thrush tapping a snail’s shell on a nearby rock.

It was that time of the year again when even the timid gained courage in a desperate bid to secure food for their offspring. Ladybirds were crawling out of their winter hiding places and spreading their black spotted cloaks in some sort of feline stretch.

I could see the cars speeding along the road in the distance where they disappeared behind the trees on the edge of Sherwood Forest. Their polluting noise was wrapped up tightly and taken with them. The voices of children in the local school drifted on the wind carrying the sound of that innocent joy of long ago childhood days.

In my reverie I fleetingly touched the power of something far greater than I, but also an integral part of what I was and why I was here. In a trice, before I could hold it in my grasp, it was gone and I was left with a sense of awe and wonder. I sat beneath this great cathedral sky in my old jeans and sweater. Dirt smudged my face and soil pressed intimately into the spaces between the tips of my fingers and my nails. Boots caked in mud, mingled with what the polite society of today, would prefer to call ‘organic fertiliser’. My choir sat in the trees and hedgerows and my hymns were the songs of the birds. My Eucharist was a communion with the earth and its creator and I felt blessed beyond belief.

Sheila Norton 21 February 2007

Monday, February 12, 2007

Still Allotmenteering and Raring to Go in 2007

Another sowing and planting season is about to be upon us. I have more than doubled the size of my allotment this year as the man next to me gave up. The winter has been spent clearing and re-arranging things. My old allotment part is now to be the otchard and I have constructed a frame over my fruit trees ready to take a bird protective netting.

One load (approc 2 tons of manure has been spread and another load of the same size is being stacked ready for the end of the year. All unrotted compost has gone underneath the manure heap where I hope it will rot down by the time I get to it. I have built a manure bay out of stuff that has been lying in wait from the last owners aquisitions.

All my compost bins have been emptied and the useable material has been scattered over the carboard surrounding my gooseberry bushes, which have been hard pruned to try to give them some light and air as well as get them into some sort of shape. Last year I noticed that most of the fruit was lying on the ground from an accumulation of low branches, and that the bushes suffered mildew as it was hard to tell where one bush ended and another started.

I am in the process of building a bay in which to keep all those 'might come in useful' items we seem to accumulate on allotments.
The frequent muddy quagmire that accumulates around my sheds, due to the slight slope down towards them , has been tackled by laying a paved area around. I love this as it gives me somewhere dry to put my table and chairs when I am lazing around, whoops I mean when I am working hard on my planning of the site.

I still have pear, cherry, damson and plum trees heeled in waiting to be planted but as soon as the site is a little drier I will get that job done. At the moment it is so muddy it is hard to even walk on it without slipping or sliding.

Seeds ordered, awaiting delivery of potatoes and onions and sitting on my hands to stop them from itching to get to work before the time is right

I have found a place that does an alternative to bamboo poles. It is made from recycled plastic and is reportedly rot proof so I might give this a go for my planned tunnel cloches. I have attached the link.