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Anne’s Patch: Hard work on the allotment, but there’s nowhere I’d rather be!

Everything’s sleeping on the allotment – even the vegetables which are over-wintering look as if they are yawning, writes Anne Akers.

Thank goodness the weeds have got the message too, they have given up the ghost although I know they are plotting more wicked work unless I do something about it.

What with the damp start to the year and the hot summer, weeding has been hit and miss and the dreaded couch grass has invaded the root system of the raspberry canes.

Winter calverley allotment
Sleepy: Our allotments in Calverley. At least the weeds are sleeping too! Photo: Anne Akers

These roots are tough and wiry, sometimes they are so dense, it looks like someone has dropped a vat of spaghetti. Of course the whole lot has to come up, even bits of root will push up a full-grown plant and we’ll be back to square one.

I don’t use weedkiller, I can’t call myself a true organic gardener as I scatter slug pellets around like there’s no tomorrow, but I do draw the line at chemicals. They claim they are safe and who am I to question the research scientists? Yet for me, it doesn’t feel right, so I create more work and am glad of it.

The couch grass roots can’t go on the compost heap, not mine anyway, it doesn’t generate enough heat to kill them off.

Roots of couch grass and other pernicious weeds can be made into an inedible soup, just stick them in a bucket with water until they dissolve and then spread it around. Obviously you can’t eat it, the smell is enough to warn you off, but it’s one way of getting rid.

If you’re flush with money, which I’m not, the HotBin composts anything, including kitchen waste, reaching a flag-cracking 60C. I really would like one, but they are about £200, plus all the extra bits and pieces you need to get. Maybe Santa will chuck one down the chimney, who knows!

While the earth remains unfrozen, there’s still digging to be done. That poo we carried all the way down the lot from Noel’s car (we weren’t using mine!) won’t dig itself in!

Plus, I want to add a few more raised beds, hopefully without paying a fortune. I discovered the rather wonderful Leeds Wood Recycling, a Community Interest Company which collects and re-used wood that would otherwise have ended up in landfill.

They have plenty of raised bed material, plus other handy bits and pieces, and they deliver. Definitely worth supporting.

I’m looking forward to going down to the allotment on Christmas Day to pick the sprouts for our dinner, it’s said they taste best after the first frosts. Let’s see!

It’s hard work down on the allotment, but sometimes there’s nowhere I’d rather be, with my radio, my flask of tea and beautiful nature all around.

The other day, as I stopped to rest and lean on my spade, I looked up and there was the most magnificent rainbow. There’s something money can’t buy. Merry Christmas everyone!


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