Sunday, 22 September 2013

Allotments around Loughborough

Allotments

Regrettably, I am having to deviate from my blog publishing schedule, so this week will not be doing the “So who was …?” feature you were expecting. A longer work week, a day trip to Southampton, a day feeling under-the-weather, a day trip to Birmingham and a trip to the cinema* have meant that my research time has been limited, thus my article is not ready for publication. Instead, I offer you the following post on the subject of allotments.

Allotments have always been popular, and recently there has been a resurgence of interest in keeping a plot. I think there may be several reasons for this: 

  • The high cost of fruit and veg at the supermarket – growing your own can often be cheaper and tastier
  • The high cost to the environment of shipping fruit and veg across the globe – grow your own and it’s likely your produce travels no more than a mile or two
  • What’s really on your fruit and veg – if you grow your own and you can control what pesticides you use
  • The perceived disintegration of community spirit in the local area – people who have allotments in the same area often form their own little community, which can be quite supportive (as well as being a bit competitive!)
  • Satisfaction and pride – there’s a great deal of both that come with growing your own produce, especially if you go on to make secondary goods (like jam, chutney etc.) and give these as gifts to friends and family, and when you share your surplus with work colleagues



I’ve taken some pictures, but these really show the main growing season as it is coming to its end: Plots in winter look completely different, as do those in spring.


Flowers on the allotment




There are certain restrictions on what can be grown on your allotment, but most fruit and veg are acceptable, and it’s even ok to grow flowers! 








A shed
A tunnel

Some people like to put sheds or greenhouses, on their plot, whilst other people manage with only tunnels, or even without any such structures. 






Raspberries

Our allotment has always been good for fruit: We have an abundance of redcurrants around May time, plentiful blackcurrants and tayberries a little later on, while the gooseberries, being fairly new plants have taken a while to settle in so are only producing a few delicious fruits, and the raspberries and Japanese wineberries go absolutely wild from about June to October! 


Rampant rhubarb!
The rhubarb is much happier in its new position and seems to go on forever!








Squashes

Onions and potatoes are our other staples: Our onion crop keeps up going for nearly a whole year, and the potatoes for about six months. Over the years we’ve tried, and had varying success with string beans, sweetcorn, tomatoes, French beans, broad beans, carrots, broccoli, lettuce, radishes, squashes, and various other crops. 




The investment in the allotment sees us spending quite a lot of time digging over once the crops are harvested, although thankfully, in reality my role is more picking, weeding, hoeing and planting!

Just recently there have been a number of initiatives pertaining to allotments:


  • A worldwide fast food chain is looking to minimise its waste and donate its used coffee grains to local allotments







  • A local charity for the homeless collects surplus produce to use to help feed its visitors


  • A group of people in the Beacon Road area of town are getting together in “grow zones” to help people who want to grow food on their allotment or in their garden, by providing them with practical help and advice. This is the local interpretation of a national initiative   



 




In Loughborough there are quite a few plots of allotments: These are run by the Charnwood Borough Council and a list of all the plots can be found on their website. There’s also a link to the application form and some further information on their site, so if you’re interested in taking on an allotment, follow these links.  

* The film I went to see was Jadoo! I'd highly recommend this as it's set in Leicester and there are shots of places that you will immediately recognise. Oh, and it's a good plot too!!!

PS I have also updated the previous "So who was ...?" blogpost on Dr Eddowes



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If you have found this post interesting or have any questions about any of the information in it do please leave a comment below. I might not be able to answer immediately, but I will reply as soon as possible. Thanks for reading the blog.