Friday, 15 October 2010

The Norfolk Kitchen Empire Expands.

This time last year I was mainly concerned with how to maximise the vegetable harvest from my tiny back yard while quietly fuming about the lack of progress with the planned new allotment site.

Now I find myself in possession of not one but two allotments.

Yep, you read it right, I've taken on a second plot. Not on our current site at Bressingham but on the Diss allotment site which is just behind my house. It's always been a very popular site with long waiting lists and I had assumed it would take years to get a plot there so, although it's the closest to my house, I'd mentally written it off.

But back at Bressingham, as regular readers will probably know, we've had yet another kerfuffle. After the initial kerfuffle between the allotment holders, a house neighbouring the site has taken against the concept of allotments per se and has commenced a further kerfuffle - this one involving fly tipping, vandalism and raising formal complaints about children on the allotments. To be honest, this, taken with the well established perennial weeds, lack of water supply, muddy driveway which is unusable after rain, the 5 mile round trip every visit and the wonky decision making of the Parish Council has tipped me over the edge.

I called the Diss allotment site and asked to go on their waiting list which turned out to be all of 24hrs in length. Last night I got a call offering us the plot. I expressed surprise at the speed of the offer and was told it's all thanks to Bressingham, apparently we've absorbed the waiting lists from Diss and Roydon so there are vacant plots on those sites for the first time in years.

Today, I went to sign up. Even walking at a 3 year old's pace it only took 4 minutes to get there. Upon arrival, the clouds parted, a shaft of sunlight lit our way and the air was riven with angels singing. The driveway is hardcored, there is mains water on tap, the plot is clear with no weeds, the soil is fine crumbed and not the heavy clay we have at Bressingham. It's like sliding into a warm bath of allotmenteering. Ahhhhh .......

So now the question is, what do we do with Bressingham? We have a contract til March, so don't have to decide just yet but our two options seem to be:

Keep it. Plant it with low maintenance stuff like fruit trees/bushes so we don't have to go very often and keep Diss for the veg which will need lots of watering/care.

Hand it back. But what would we do with our shed, fence and newly planted fruit trees - none of which are allowed at Diss and none of which we have room for at home.

I'm leaning towards the former, but will having 2 plots on different sites be a pain in the rear?

What do you think? I'd love to hear your views.


  1. Hi Tracey

    I like the proposal that you do the veg over the fence as it were nearest the house. But keeping the other one up and running for fruit would be an absolute bonus to you and free you up to concentrate on the veg on the new site. i.e. have one time hungry plot and one where you can visit but not necessarily every day.

    I had an allotment at one stage but my partner was not supportive so ended up giving it up. Did not have a shed and was having to cart tools everytime we went and because it was quite a way it was too far for me to walk fully loaded with tools. It has to work practically for you, your family and your time commitments otherwise it will not work. But having fresh fruit in season would be a boon to you for family meals and for the preserving as well; but it sounds as if you will have to invest into deep freezers if you haven't already done so. Any growing land is valuable space and it gives you more independence in feeding your own cheaply without having to totally rely on supermarkets and not only that the food is a lot better for you as it has no nasties. And if one site will not let you have trees or a shed then at least you have your options open. But if the soil is better on the new site concentrate on that one for the veggies as it will be easier growing.

    Take care



  2. I say keep both sites (5 miles is not that far!;especially round trip!) and use one for the orchard (the farther one away) and one for the vegetable garden (the closer one). I don't pretend to know what it is really like since all my gardens have been on my own property in the US but that is what I would do if I had to.

  3. Thanks both.

    I'm leaning towards keeping it too. Spoke to a friend last night who knows someone at Diss allotments who does almost the same thing. He rents land further away which he has planted with fruit trees, and keeps sheep and bees on, and has a full time job too, so it must be doable!

  4. I should also point out that both plots are half plots going on the traditional allotment scale. Diss used to offer 90' plots but they're now being chopped in half so we've got a 40' plot. We don't have all the land in the photo, probably about 3/4

  5. I gave the question some similar thought with my plot. I presently have a half plot, though thinking of the prospect of being able to upgrade to a larger plot next year, I do not think I could now. All the time and labour I have put into this plot, getting beds established etc, I think I will stick with it.

    The fact you said you can't have a shed on the other plot is a major put off to begin with. Seems very restrictive.

    As the saying goes, don't take on more than you can chew. People have spread themselves thinly on our site before and got non-cultivation/eviction notices for their lack of progress.

    But if you think you can handle it, go for it!

  6. Thanks for the comment. I do take your point re spreading myself too thin, that's my main concern.

    On the new site they have do have a communal shed block built by the Allotment Association. They're rented out to the plot holders but because the plots are being divided there are half the number of sheds needed.

    I'm hoping they build some more and we'll get one eventually. Plus the site is so close to home we can easily put a box full of stuff on a garden trolley and take it with us. On the old plot quite a few people have chosen not to bother with a shed anyway.

    On balance the other conveniences such as running water, hard core to drive on, (I once had to get towed off the old site after getting stuck in the mud) and being close to home make up for not having a shed.

    I'm hoping we can muddle through next year then September 2011 my youngest daughter starts school so I'll have oodles of time on my hands - I hope!

  7. I say go with both Tracey...I started off with a half plot as I was worried about time and stuff but then went up to a full plot this year which has given me much more room to grow fruit trees and such. You already have some of those establishing and a shed on your original plot and if you keep to stuff like this that is low maintenance and grows continually then it can be a once a wekk visit during harvest time purely for picking and you will know exactly what you are going could use quater of the plot just for strawberries which are easy to maintain and come yearly...add to that stuff like rhubarb and fruit bushes and your plot will soon be full with minimal could even put yourself a little patio bit in so visiting could be a bit of a picninc outing with the kids.

    Then your new plot can be for everything for the table as it will be as close as mine and can quite easily pop round just to dig up what you need for dinner...and water with ease...the beauty of the fruit on the non-water site is except for initial planting you will never need to may seem like a lot of work initially but just think how much quicker your foraging will be in a few years when the kids aren't getting so keen on joining you!!....and because you can give that whole half plot of to fruits you will be able to grow so much more of it!!

  8. Thanks Tanya, I was hoping you'd show up! That's exactly the model I was thinking of. Plus the old plot has a small horsetail/marestail/devil's finger infestation so we can smother that with some serious weedkiller and leave it for a year to work. Then we can turn that corner into the patio area for the kids. Genius.

  9. I agree with Tanya. Keep both.

  10. Hi, Interesting blog. How about loads of autumn raspberries on the old plot...easy to maintain, they travel but that won't matter. A glut will freeze easily and they are easy and rewarding for the kids to pick.