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25th August, 2021

“Vita X on the allotment” Mark’s blog

This year has been a strange one. Torrential rain and storms to blistering heat but my allotment plot is finally starting to produce for me. As you all know from previous blogs, I got a late start this year. My new raised beds look great and were the first to provide results as the soil in these warms up so much faster than the ground. Lettuce has been full on glut with every plant producing an astonishing amount of leaves. Potato first and second crops were both new varieties that haven’t done as well as usual, but I still had a healthy crop which is not what I can say about my tomatoes as blight wiped the whole lot out in just two days.

I was devastated by this, as everyone says how nice they were in the past and I fed half the street last year – but it won’t stop me from trying again. My peas have done well. I have a couple of kilos frozen and have planted a second bed with them for a late crop. My rhubarb crown has been prolific this year and I’ve had five picks and it’s still going strong. I love bringing home rhubarb as my wife makes a lovely crumble.

This month, the weeds have beaten my abilities but my Aunt came to my rescue whilst I was away fishing and did a fantastic job of getting on top of them. The onions have been harvested a few at a time and I need to get a new batch in. The plum tree and grapevines have gone mad and the runner beans are finally taking off. The bed that suffered the blight, I have stripped and that will now be a salad bed and I’ve already got a few varieties of lettuce in. I have a conundrum in my greenhouse: I planted some cucumbers and one plant looks fine but the other looks nothing like a cucumber so I’m waiting with baited breathe to see what it produces.

Once again, I only planted one pumpkin and it is currently overtaking a good portion of the plot. It’s called an ‘Atlantic giant’ so I shouldn’t be surprised really. I was lucky enough to be gifted a pair of wormeries – I’ve never used these before and as well as producing compost, they are supposed to produce a liquid fertiliser as well as a steady supply of worms for my fishing so watch this space as I attempt to get the balance right. I now compost all food waste and nothing goes in my bin as the wormeries can break down meat and bones, as well as green waste. This means I now have two composters and two wormeries so next year I shouldn’t need to buy much compost, if any.

Fortunately, my Vita X came in useful in transporting them over from home using my trailer. I’m totally organic and use no chemicals at all. All feed I produce myself except for winter when I put organic chicken pellets on the soil to break down and feed the beds. I also use horse manure from a local source. My bug houses attract a large number of insects for pollination and the local wildlife like frogs and hedgehogs keep down the slugs and snails.

The tranquillity my allotment provides me has been invaluable during lockdown and I often just sit watching the world go by. It’s also a good place to see and chat with fellow allotment holders and pass on information and swap stories and the fruits of our labour. Whilst sat, I often here the call of the Red Kite above and see the constant visits from Robins and Blackbirds the moment I start to dig or turn over soil and the Blue Tits in and out of the nesting boxes always make me smile. I have a bench under the cherry tree but often I stay sitting on my Vita X as the seat is so comfortable.

The artichokes are now in flower and are laden with pollen and every flower has one or two bees buried deep inside it. The pond has dramatically changed this year. Last year I snapped off a couple of pieces of two different types of alpine plants from my water feature in the garden and planted them around the pond and my word they’ve taken over but look absolutely stunning. I haven’t spotted the newts this year, but the frogs are certainly multiplying so we are doing something right. The solitary bees are everywhere and the cane stems in the bug house are well used by them.

I still haven’t got around to cleaning out the shed and the pile of shells is getting bigger. I must have a few mice in there now but as long as they leave my crops alone, I don’t mind. There is nothing in there they can damage and unlike a lot of people, I find them endearing little creatures. So far, this year has been strange, challenging and yet still productive. I’m finding the work harder than ever but even more satisfying. How long I can keep going I don’t know but the help of family makes it a little easier.

Without my Vita X, I wouldn’t be able to manage and it’s a real lifesaver. Anyone considering a mobility device, don’t put it off any longer. Get out there and explore your options.

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