Saturday, September 23, 2017

Back end -Coming clean

Now its getting what I call backend-ish its time for me to be real and honest . 
This  year has been really hard for me . I have struggled to keep positive , I wake up sometimes wanting not to , I want to start smoking again , I want to go and live alone on Iona , I want a holiday , I never want to cook another meal , or go to Tesco in Filey , or talk to anyone .

I have a strong Christian faith , I have a loving family, I live in a delightful cottage with my partner of 45 years who is my best friend , the father of my children and does everything he can to make me happy . 
This year as ill health has upset the equilibrium of our life together I am thanking God for my small plot of land , my dilapidated sheds , my portable gas burner ring and the freedom I have to leave my home behind when I like and just disappear to my allotment .
Ive been a gardener all my adult life. I've had in the past to share my gardens with husband and family . For the first time in my life Ive had sole control of  my very own plot . I have a dear allotment partner on my adjoining plot 57a which we have shared for 4 years , but plot 56 is all mine , I can grow what I like whatever way I like . 

This time last year I used to sit outside the greenhouse on my shared plot and look over at what Dave was doing next door on plot 56 . His plot was out of Gardeners World crossed with those of Dan Pearson and my guru Bob Flowerdew .
Bernard my allotment partner LHS , Colin my life partner RHS
My small part of plot 57a was beginning to look too small for me last back end . My 3 Asparagus beds took up all the space , and I looked around on other adjacent plots hoping that someone would give up a small plot that I could add to my small empire . I was delighted that I got the chance to take Dave's plot on last September as Dave and Jen  moved away from Filey. I told the allotment committee I would give this large plot a year to see if I could manage it .  Now a year on , I realise that tending this  beautifully organized and Margaret ready plot has been the way I  have managed to get through the year . 

Beloved does not mind at all when I leave him alone for hours , he knows I'm returning home happily tired , emotionally restored to me again , and full of plans for the future , and with plenty of his favourite beans to pod and and the prospect of a tasty dinner with all home grown ingredients . We are virtually vegetarian at present  . This was not a lifestyle choice . My beloved has so many health concerns and takes so much medication that we have to restrict sugar , fat and all purines . I am so proud that I can now make burgers with Broad Beans and vegetable curries , and soups and even pies which never taste the same twice and are always delicious he  says . 

My first pond!
People are always writing about the health benefits of gardening .
  •  In the 21st century , in Filey, gardening is another Lifestyle choice . We do not live from hand to mouth here , we do not have to grow our food to survive, we have plenty of water to sustain the growth of plants , and even those with tiny gardens may grow vegetables and fruit in containers . We do not grow our staple grains in our gardens or allotments , but may grow staple pulses, the second class protein which vegetarians depend on . Brian on the plot next to me grew enough peas to last him a year, and Vince near me grew a years supply of potatoes which he carefully stores. This year I have grown chickpeas just to see if I could . Yes I can ,and no I wont again , they are cheap enough to buy. So just knowing that we can grow our own food on an allotment is a health benefit as we know we will not starve .

  • Gardening for me helps me to learn about wildlife . I have a couple of small ponds, just old washing up bowls of rain water , and every year I get tadpoles from my friend Ann and watch them grow into frogs. My plot now has thriving small frogs which as they grow and grow will start eating the slugs I hope . This year too I have had to buy a book to identify spiders, as I'd never realised how many different species lived in a small plot . The same with Caterpillars . I now am the proud habitat for the Mullein Moth , I keep  nettles and am rewarded this week with hundreds of Red Admiral caterpillars about to start their banquet . I admit here that I'm also adept at the mass slaughter of Large white Caterpillars which I squash. I do grow Nasturtiums to entrap them , and lure them away from my brassicas , but this week even I can't keep up with the voracity of the Pieris brassicae.    Here I digress to tell the tale of a Flower Arrangement I once did at St Oswalds . I was very pleased with it , as I only used leaves , cabbage leaves, broccoli leaves and other garden leaves in all shades of green . When I returned to water to arrangement mid week I was horrified that most of the leaves had been completely destroyed by caterpillars and there were droppings all over the beautiful wooden chest where the huge arrangement sat in less than glory .
  • Gardening alone on my plot gives me time to think and reflect. I sit for long ages just looking at the plot , at the shapes , at the colours , at the progress of time through observance of the growth of the familiar .
  • Exercise is good for my mental health . Here you might think I'm always digging and using lots of energy . I'm not . I don't dig , I mulch. The most exercise I get apart from using the shears to to cut  Comfrey, or the edging tool to the grass ,is the fast walk the mile to my plot from home . I walk it as fast as I can . BUT so tired have I been keeping up with watering the greenhouse everyday in July and August that Ive often had to run the car up to the plot .
  • I've spent a whole year with a notebook and pencil . One year ago my grandsons and I mapped the whole plot and with my template done I update my notes after my visits to the plot . Ive planned the rotation for 2018 . I have mapped every 2 months and noted all the successes and failures , yields and suggestions for improvements. 
So there we have it , my back end admission , that I couldn't have got through this year without my allotment . Its been my sanctuary . Time stands still when I'm there . I return home refreshed and positive . So as summer gives way to autumn I know that that less hectic jobs will satisfy too. I shall be moving the manure around, cutting down and pruning , planting the autumn Onion sets and Broad beans again and thinking of  my winter pursuit which will be re-learning to use a Spinning wheel . I'll have to do this at home , but all the mess the carding of my newly washed wool will be better done in my shed . I'll need to get the  greenhouse heater going now . Ive got the kettle .

Addendum . Well!well! Ive just had an email from someone wanting me to advertise Flogas Greenhouse heaters! Its only because they have a Royal warranty that I thought I'd name them 


  1. A lovely honest and very informative post Margaret. Gardening used to be my escape hatch too, not so much now that energy is not so available.
    There is a very good reason why introducing people with mental health problems learning difficulties and just plain old day-to-day miseries to gardening is on so many agendas. Social services in some places (where they can afford to fund it) are still using communal gardening as a therapy.
    It is not merely learning to look after and care for living things, watching them grow and res;pond to care, but also the huge benefit of being out under the sky surrounded by natural things, the company of birds and small creatures and the ever-present spirit of God.
    I'm sorry you have been having a rotten year, but glad you have your private paradise.
    A million blessings.

  2. Reading of your struggles, gives me my own motivation. We all struggle at times. You are an inspiration.

    1. I'm not unkown, I'm Stephen Eblet lol.

  3. Thank you for your comments Ray and Steve . One does feel more positive too when writing down ones feelings, even when exposing ones vulnerability to the cyberworld.