Antonia Swinson - Allotment Tales

Antonia Swinson - Allotment Tales

Allotment Tales - Grassroots democracy

I am shoving the week's kitchen waste into the compost bins as the wind, which has been a violent vandal all night, does its best to rob me of both contact lenses, and flatten what is left of the curly kale.

Growing awareness

Allotment Tales

More top stories

Robin's lesson in survival

Allotment Tales

After the bloom, the bust

WITH each month that passes, I am becoming more aware of how lucky I am, and just what a resource my plot is.

Old plots, new schemes

Whenever I arrive in a new town, I look at it like a jigsaw, spending my stay fitting the pieces together.

The age of the greengage

There are surely few more exciting pleasures for an allotmenteer than enjoying a first crop of something you have never grown before.

Taking rootstock

I ARRIVE at the allotment after a week's holiday down south to find the beginnings of potato blight, yet the consolation too of a fantastic harvest of black and redcurrants.

Flowers of Scotland

FOR some weeks persistent rain has made visits to the allotment both fleeting and unsatisfactory. The weeds are winning. On the plus side, my potatoes think they are in Ireland and are shooting up, and if one can see amid the stair rods lashing down, everything is green and ripening fast. I pick a big juicy strawberry, poking out from sopping wet straw, before bolting for shelter.

Sunrise and surprises

For the fifth morning running I have been woken up by Austin Powers, on the razzle and outside my window.

We all need space to grow

IT IS usually only past the halfway mark of a decade that you find out what its defining characteristics really are. Which is as true for gardening as anything else. Just as the 1990s were the years of decking and water features, so the Noughties seem set to be the decade of kitchen gardening.

Rats! I'm getting out of here

Wanted - pied piper. NOT YOUR normal Scotsman sit vac ad perhaps, but arriving at the allotments, I find a muddy quagmire and rats, lots of them, eating into sheds and munching seed packets, and chitting potatoes. Rentokil is on the case but we are told to watch out. Gingerly, I open my shed door . . . all seems OK. I plant a few early onions, shove newspapers into the compost and beat a retreat. What's worse - live rats or their poisoned corpses, I wonder?

Common or garden magic

DO you believe in fairies? MY favourite moment in the film of The Railway Children is not that "oh-my-daddy" scene on the station platform, but the Christmas production of Peter Pan, when Wendy asks the audience if they believe in fairies and out booms Papa to general applause: "Yes, I most certainly do!" If we don't believe, as JM Barrie tells us, somewhere a fairy dies.

If in doubt, ask online

IN THE RICHARD GERE/J-LO movie Shall We Dance? there's a funny line when a character announces that her husband has left her for a woman he met through a gardeners' chat room. I always laugh because it is spot on. Forget ballroom dancing, it's gardening blogs that are really exciting.

Costly but priceless

The bill from the council for my allotment arrived this week - £42.

Observing the cycle of life

SATURDAY morning and after a night of storms, daughter Ella and I arrive at the allotment. Hot news! A mini tornado has ripped through the site uprooting two sheds and a large tree.

The joy of a garden office

AS A CHILD, a regular family jaunt was to George Bernard Shaw's house in Ayot St Lawrence in Hertfordshire. I particularly loved his extraordinary shed, which, built on casters, could be turned to face the sun. Later, I discovered sheds were almost a prerequisite for literary success - from Arthur Miller, who built a shed in which to write Death of a Salesman, to literary titans Virginia Woolf, Agatha Christie and Dylan Thomas, and more recently Roald Dahl and Philip Pullman.

Dampen my expectations

WHY DOES IT ALWAYS start raining on Saturday mornings the minute I pull up at the allotments? Each week the timing has a malevolent perfection, as if vengeful gods chart my course and the second I arrive, whoosh! Down comes that rain in bucketloads, curtailing the time I can spend on site and my enjoyment.

A chill wind blows

WALKING up the path between the plots on this cold Saturday morning, I take my time to check what stage each has reached.

A plot to lift the spirits

A FEW months ago I received a wonderful letter from my old professor who described how he had taken on an allotment to relax from the rigours of university politics, only to find that allotments were a mixed blessing, providing far too much opportunity for worrying.

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

I AM sitting in my shed sheltering from the haar which has descended to suffocate a glorious Indian summer.

Page 1 of 3

Back to the top of the page