Tending an allotment is seriously fashionable these days but setting your heart on obtaining one wont necessarily mean you instantly get what you wish for. It all depends where you live and how many allotments there are in your area. The Forest of Dean, where I am, doesn’t have any council owned plots at all, as they were all dispensed with after the second world war and what allotments now exist come under the jurisdiction of various local parish councils.
My friend Deborah, who lives in London, was on the waiting list for an allotment for 18 years. After coming across the original letter from the council confirming her application she decided to chase things up and eighteen months ago was at last offered a plot on a site that runs along the edge of Hampstead Heath. Deborah isn’t a person satisfied to simply dig over the earth and plant a few seeds. In the short time since taking the allotment on, a rough unkempt plot has been transformed and landscaped with raised beds, paths and arches using reclaimed and recycled materials. Whatever she does is art.
In London for a couple of days, I had Sunday morning free to pop down to the allotment to see how things were progressing whilst Deborah gathered homegrown ingredients for lunch. During the previous week, an impressive new cold frame has been built, seeds have been sown and vegetable seedlings started off in pots have been planted out.
Last year Mick, from the plot next door, gave Deborah a rhubarb crown, substantial enough that it is already producing some stems that can be harvested. You should normally allow a few years for newly planted rhubarb to become established before picking. An upturned dustbin placed over part of it to starve the stems of light, revealed an armful of lovely sweet stems, beautifully pink with lime green leaves, when lifted away. Just enough to feed everyone for lunch. That was pudding sorted.