It’s a shame Time Team is being abolished. I could have asked the lovely Tony Robinson and his crew to come and have a look for my allotment. It’s disappeared under a Sleeping Beauty-esque landscape of weeds and brambles, but I’m sure a professional excavation team could find it again. I left it there somewhere just a few weeks ago.
Anyway, in the absence of Tony and his team, I’ve had to resort to my own diggity-digging. Two hours of hard labour has found the first traces of where the beds might have been. Two long-forgotten slug planks were unearthed, relics from earlier in the summer. I’m not going to tell you what happened next, but let’s just say the slugs didn’t get rehomed in the lane this time…
The strawberry bed is a rampant river of green that has burst its banks and spilled over into all neighbouring land. The maincrop potatoes are still in the ground under layers of willowherb, grass and dandelions. Leeks are being strangled by more of the same. The swedes and beetroots are nestling in another weedstrewn patch, but are at least looking nice and fat. And yes, I’m still factory-farming slugs. Industrial quantities of the blighters, and I haven’t spotted my toady friends for a while.
Anyone who is not familiar with the phrase “nature abhors a vacuum” should come and take a look. It’s amazing how quickly nature will take back land it spots as vacant, like some sort of cosmic squatter.
It’s hard to claim I’ve enjoyed the allotment over the past couple of months. One single night of frost has killed the courgettes and butternut squashes. The green beans, decimated by slugs early in the season, finally got going, only to be afflicted by some sort of brown spotty disease. Even the rhubarb appears to have been stripped almost bare by other allotmenteers who were granted picking rights.
It’s been a lot of work for not much return, hardly surprising given the year’s historically appalling weather. But even if there’s not much to harvest, it’s always a great place to be still, to think, to dig and to be grateful. And for bountiful crops, there’s always next year.