The Plot

DSC_0592My allotment is in Greenwich, South East London, up on a hill overlooking Canary Wharf. In the distance (in the winter, at least, when the trees are bare) I can see the O2 and the curly wurly thing at the Olympic park. I used to be able to see ships coming up the Thames, but recent development has thrown blocks of flats in the way.

I’m on a very steep slope that is also uneven. My dream would have been to terrace the lot, but the incline is so punishing I’d have ended up with a retaining wall Hadrian would have been proud of.

Poor Paul tries to build a bed around an existing crop

Last year, with the unstinting help of my pal Paul (thank you, Paul!) I created raised beds across the plot. They are entirely made from wood snaffled out of skips within a three-street area (much of it coming out of one house – thank you Mick!)

DSC_0594They are all different sizes and shapes; I don’t care for uniformity on an allotment, besides I wanted to get the most from each batch of wood, mainly rafters from where people were having loft conversions.

Even the nails were re-used. The only thing I bought was wood preservative, which makes all the wood look the same and like I paid a fortune for it.

They tend to be one- or less rafter thick at the top, and up to four deep at the bottom thanks to the incline.

I filled them with whatever I could. I couldn’t afford topsoil or bagged compost, so I used a combination of my own compost and free manure from a nearby stables, balanced out with spent soil from containers. It’s not ideal, but will have to do until I can splash out on specialist stuff. I’m making some leaf mould to help stabilise it too.

Crown Prince pumpkins, plus sundry other crops. Note the never-diminishing wood pile, despite being used on a regular basis, and the cake. Never garden without cake.