One sunny bank holiday weekend, my lovely friend Ruby invited us to join her at her allotment, which we have Nicknamed Rosie. We chose the name Rosie as there are some lovely white roses growing on her patch and who doesn’t love a nickname. Ruby picked us up in her car in the morning, then just a short car ride away we arrived at our destination, ready to get our hands dirty. Walking through through the old rusty gate and into the area filled with people’s home grown goodies, we felt transported from the hustle and bustle of London life, to a peaceful sanctuary for urban growers.
In London there is more demand for allotment space than there are actual plots meaning most people have to be put on a waiting list, so Ruby is really lucky to have got such a good little plot, and we were super happy to lend her a hand. After being away for a couple of weeks there was a good number of jobs to be done. Of course it helped that the sun was shining making for perfect de-weeding weather, three pairs of hands making light and enjoyable work.
I will be volunteering to join project Rosie more often as there is something very calming about being surrounded by greenery. You could tell by looking around at the neighbouring plots everyone shared a love for the process of successfully growing gorgeous fruits and vegetables.
Horticulture societies like this one aim to encourage more people to grow their own food, either in an allotment or at home. If you do have a garden space where you are capable of growing your own produce, I would really recommend it, as it could supply you with an abundant amount of super fresh and tasty home grown produce. Eco-friendly gardening is one thing you can do that has a significant positive impact on lowering your carbon footprint too, bonus.
Admiring the plots surrounding Rosie it is easy to see why people fall in love with gardening. You can tell the other allotment owners are experienced growers, they had very developed crops and were growing large numbers of apples, pumpkins, sunflowers, fennel, beetroots, squash, marrows, tomatoes, you name it. They were inspirational to see, helping visualise the amount of potential there is for growing in a small area.
There are multiple benefits other than the promise of your own food supply. Adopting an eco-friendly way of life can lessen the effects of global warming via sustainable living, and help promote a healthy lifestyle both physically and mentally. If you have a successful crop you may even produce more food than you need, so you can share your bounty with friends or neighbours, spreading the joy, and making you very popular.
While tending to Rosie we ate perfectly ripe raspberries straight from the bush, pulled up twenty odd potatoes, orange carrots and purple carrots in all shapes and sizes, some juicy looking onions, snap peas and rhubarb. Josh made a lovely risotto later that day with the onions and carrots we brought home. I have never experienced cooking with produce I’ve picked and cleaned myself before, it felt really satisfying.
After clearing the area of all the weeds we put the unwanted bits into the large composting bins provided. Ruby gave her plot a good water, not forgetting to give the neighbouring plots a good drink too. She said the other grower all helped each other out with watering and such when they could. Proving that there is still a strong sense of community to be felt in London when you seek it out.
I really enjoyed getting my hands stuck in, and having the soil under my fingernails. This feeling took me back to simpler times, and the smell of the water seeping into the freshly turn soil was the best thing I have smelt in a while. I had forgotten how good the simple smell of the earth can be.
When you think about it allotments are really much more than just hobbies enabling you to grow your own fruit and veg. They can also offer a sense of being a part of the community. For many people it can also offer a response to the problems with the current food system.
In our busy day to day lives something as simple as an allotment or even looking after home grown herbs and plants can help provide a healthy life balance, they can help you collect your thoughts and just generally get away from it all. While you are there the most important thing is the task at hand. Tending the soil, planting, producing, transforming the land. What a simple but worthwhile thing to do. On top of that it helps increase your personal knowledge for eating food seasonally, what it takes to actually grow food from scratch, and how to cook with what you have available.
Growing your own food above anything is a skill, it takes time and careful planning to reap the rewards and it is something I would encourage anyone who can to give it a go. Starting small and utilising your space is a good tip, a little bit of research goes a long way.
You don’t need to have a large area to plant fruit or vegetables, as these can be successfully grown in a small area even on apartment balconies. So long as the plants receive plenty of sunlight and an adequate amount of water, they should grow well.
At the moment Josh and I only have a small balcony so we have been growing Mint, Sage and Rosemary. Herbs are a good plant for beginners like us, as they don’t need too much looking after, as long as you water them most days and give them plenty of room to grow. They can go a bit wild. Sage and Rosemary are great to have around for cooking, and Mint is lovely in a cup of hot water.
Another good tip for you zero waste advocates out there, you can reduce your amount of waste by reusing some of your old plastic containers, and everyday packaging by converting them into plant pots, reuse plastic bottles by cutting off the base and using them as seedling covers, acting as mini greenhouses.
Start growing something today and let your confidence grow with your plants, before you know it I am sure you will be a natural green fingered gardener.
Thanks again Ruby, can’t wait to visit Rosie again soon.
Also thank you as always to @joshjoshphotos