Is it weird that I’ve always had feelings about particular numbers? Some just seem friendlier than others. Perhaps it’s associations with family birthdays or old house numbers but I always know when a number feels good. I get a very warm and fuzzy feeling about this number. I could tell you it’s because it has a lucky digital route of 7, but then you’d really begin to worry about me. It would make much more sense to tell you that 124 is the plot number of my new allotment. In this case probably any number would have felt good as you know my sad tales of gardening on the bathroom floor.
On Tuesday this week I visited the local council offices to confirm that this is my little patch of earth. Actually the first that’s ever been mine, unless you count the little bed behind an apple tree when I was about six years old. A stylish little area, home to sunflowers and my design triumph of an upturned section of a drain which served as a raised bed, ideal for trailing plants. My Dad was always fond of gardening, though a Sunday afternoon often meant the bold approach of cutting a new 1970s-style curvy rose bed in preference to doing anything very earnest like weeding. I was daddy’s little helper. I still can’t smell tomatoes without picturing a hot summer with a greenhouse filled with such a glut that we let our guinea pigs feast on the ripest fruits.
So what can I tell you about plot 124? As you can see, it hasn’t been cultivated for some time and all the rainy days have produced what’s best described as a jungle of weeds. On my first evening of tenancy I was so excited to visit my plot that I ran up to the site straight from work, so my dress and ‘lady’ shoes weren’t quite the right attire. It was so overgrown that I could only stalk the perimeter of 125m square of chest-high weeds, pondering what might be within. I just stood and looked at it with a silly smile on my face for quite some time.
The next evening I was better prepared. I strode forth purposefully in jeans and wellies and prepared to enter. I had to be quite careful, placing each foot down gingerly to discover what might be under the weeds. After a while I’d stumbled (literally) over a small tool store, a compost container, a bottle of slug pellets and several wild raspberry canes (thankfully thornless). Several other lot holders passed by during my expedition into the unknown, uttering helpful phrases like “you’ve got a bit of a project there”, and “if you find treasure buried in there, it’s mine!”. They’re a great bunch of people. Already I’ve been loaned tools, given heaps of advice and even presented with a bunch of the most beautifully scented sweet peas and honeysuckle.
As a new tenant, I get a helping hand to start me off. The council take an industrial strimmer to the plot. I was lucky enough to get this done last Friday, which meant I could spend all Saturday playing. It took just over four hours to clear two square metres properly – only 123 square metres to go. It’s no coincidence that the first thing I did when I woke up this morning was google ‘rotavator hire’. I had hoped to be heroic and enjoy the process of hand digging the whole plot but I fear the weeds may be back in force before I can achieve anything meaningful.
I don’t really mind how long it takes to sort things out, it’s my little(!) patch of escapist heaven and I shall fall asleep dreaming of sheds and raised beds for many weeks to come.