I have always had a passion for growing fruit and vegetables. If I am honest, I have more of a passion for growing them than I actually do eating them, though things are slowly changing on that front!
My love of gardening stemmed from childhood. I was lucky enough to live in a house with a large garden and even luckier to share that home with my Grandad, my true gardening hero! From a very young age, Grandad taught me everything he knew about growing, in particular growing vegetables. I spent many, many long, happy hours sowing seeds with Grandad, absorbing both the summer sun and his knowledge. Even now, all I need to do is close my eyes and I can picture him sitting on the garden bench, overlooking our little vegetable plot, smoking a rolled up cigarette!
When Grandad passed away in 2005 it left a massive hole in my life. He had lived with me since I was 5 years old and because of that, we had been extremely close. One of the main things that he left with me though was a love of growing. The need to tend the land and produce fine fruit and veg was as firmly rooted in me as the weeds are in my allotment now!
I have to be honest and say that between 2005 and 2014 I didn’t really garden at all. I had a small backyard plot at my home but I only grew on it one year and after that I left it and it got overgrown, somehow at that point in my life my heart wasn’t in it.
All that changed in 2015. I had gone through some major life changes. My husband and I got divorced and I moved away from my hometown to Hastings on the South coast. I loved being in Hastings, but felt something was missing. It was then that my mind turned back to gardening. I remember browsing the internet one night for details of local allotments and by the time morning came, I had emailed the local council asking to be put on the waiting list for one. My online research had warned me to be prepared for a long wait for a plot, but I must have got lucky. A lovely Lady from the council got in touch the next day and said she had a plot available there and then!
I wasted no time at all in rushing down to examine the plot. When I first saw it, I was a little taken aback. I had been expecting it to be a little run down, perhaps slightly overgrown and in need of a little taming but more or less good to go. What a surprise I got when this greeted me….
My best friend was with me when I viewed the plot and tried to convince me not to go ahead with it. We were both shocked by just how overgrown the plot was and he told me it would be too much work. His opinion was echoed by one of the other plot holders who happened to be working on her plot when we went to view it. She told us that the plot I was looking at hadn’t been worked on in 3 years and would be absolutely full of weeds and incredibly hard work to tame.
However, my heart was set on it! To me, this overgrown, weed infested piece of land represented my idea of heaven! It was untamed and with a lot of hard work, I knew I could turn it into something spectacular. Against everyone’s better judgement, I rushed home and signed the paper work there and then. I even hand delivered it back to the council offices to avoid the one or two day delay that posting the forms would have caused!
Within a week, I had the keys in my hand and was all set for my very first day at the allotment. I knew that I had a whole lot of hard work ahead of me but I also felt that exact same sense of happiness that I had had as a child, working beside Grandad. I knew that I was going to make this work and I also knew that doing so would completely enrich my life. Bring on the tools!