I’m back in the UK and have been helping my dad out on his allotment, Robinson’s Ranch. He’s not been able to do as much up there this year, and as a result it is a weed haven. It reminds me very much of Farrar’s Field in recent years.
Despite the waist-high weeds and red ant population, Robinson’s Ranch is a glorious spot in the Warwickshire countryside. Behind a very cute garden gate and sandwiched between a country lane and an empty field, his plot is one of just two at this particular site, so it is peaceful to say the least. I’ve really enjoyed going up there.
My brothers have worked hard to clear one area and in it they have planted onions, spinach, potatoes, chard, dwarf beans, runner beans, kale, courgette, beetroot and leeks. As it is just one small area it’s been a delight to weed and hoe, as it’s so manageable and the view is so pleasant.
We also cleared up and weeded the soft fruit area. Dad has some great raspberries, blackberries, gooseberries, redcurrants (so close to ripening!) and what he thinks are boysenberries on the go. They seem to be doing well after their weeding and I’ve since covered them in a bit of a haphazard, semi-fruit cage.
To get the full allotment experience in the two weeks I have been here, I’ve also made jam with some raspberries (and a few blackberries) I found in the freezer. Clearly last year’s bounty, but the jam is still quite tasty.
I also felt privileged to be around to enjoy the first pickings of the strawberries. Dad doesn’t usually net his strawberries apparently but because they’ve been thoroughly cleared out this year they seem very exposed. So I have netted them to stop the pesky birds.
There may have been only 10 in the first pick, but they were delicious. So sweet and lovely. You really can’t beat a home grown British strawberry. And ready just in time for Wimbledon to start. (A benefit to being back in the UK this week is that I can enjoy BBC’s coverage of a great British sporting tradition.)
We took on the task of clearing out the little shed. Found what can only be referred to as Shelob the spider – and her mate – as well as a decomposed rat that got itself trapped in some net. Delightful.
So what’s next? We hope to clear all the hideous weeds by strimming them short and then digging the plot over. Then I think that we’ll put weed matting down to keep everything at bay. It’s unlikely that dad will be able to do much with the rest of the plot this year but if we can keep the worst of the weeds down for the rest of the summer, then next year it might all be a lot easier.
Allotmenting at Robinson’s Ranch is a totally different experience to allotmenting on Farrar’s Field. I, of course, have a soft spot for Farrar’s Field but it doesn’t hold the beauty of the Ranch’s surroundings. Neither is the Field a sun trap like the Ranch. It gives the eco-gym workout you get from gardening an extra dimension – there’s an added sauna experience. But Farrar’s Field was ours and that makes it special. (Although by all accounts, the Field’s new tenants are very happily enjoying a productive season up in Yorkshire.)
I didn’t realise how much I had missed spending time gardening, or at an allotment, until returning to the UK. I certainly intend to grow plants and vegetables in the US, once we move to our permanent home, even if it’s just in containers or as houseplants. Still, these past few weeks on Robinson’s Ranch have been enjoyable. And it’s been made all the better by this view at the top of the lane, where, when feeling a little lazy I have parked the car (rather than doing the seven minute walk up to the plot).