Thursday, January 04, 2007

Ok, must get down the details about the allotment. Firstly I live in a working class area of Nantes, a big town in western France and we just bought a flat there 6 months ago. So obviously no garden. My flat is surrounded by enticing cement planters in which you could grow a ton of stuff, but you can't get to the bloody things because of window railings! Grrr... Anyway I have been on my town's waiting list for an allotment for 3 years and lo and behold they ring me over Christmas to tell me I can have one! Yippee!
I rocked on over there to check it out where I was met by "Jeannot" the old fella who looks after the association of allotment holders. He showed me the plot - it's 100 square metres, I guess thet is 300 square feet and it has a little shed, a water butt and soon will have a compost bin. It has been gardened a little so only a few weeds and just some grass growing, along with a few pathetic leeks. There are also a comunal shed where there is a fridge, coffeemaker etc (lots of empty beer bottles in the bin, that's a good sign) toilets, bins, a BBQ and a patch where the wrinklies play French bowls in the warmer weather. The allotments are in the park behind our building so in summer I can just stroll over - at the moment that path is flooded so it'll be on me bike.
Now it's true I don't have a lot of time at the moment but I have waited so long, I could not refuse. So I filled in my form (69 euros a year, seems reasonable) and am now officially an allotment holder. So now what the flock do I do?
OK, have no tools so rushed out and bought a pitchfork, spade and rake. Must be a good start.
On Saturday I'll go down and try and drag up as many weeds as possible, then try and get one of the old lads to accept the bribery of a case of beer to run his rotovator over the plot for me. I must have confidence in the solidarity of my fellow gardeners 'cos I don't have much in myself to be frank.
Next will have to decide what to plant. Tomatoes, ok that's a bit of a way off yet, but for the spring, I thought I might try some spinach, radishes, lettuce, start off not too ambitious or I'll be quickly in the shit. Peas yes, yum, snow peas (mangetout) and big sweet podding peas up big sticks. Sounds good. A few herbs. A lavender bush for bees. Actually I hate bees, terrified of them, but I know they are my friend and I must appear to be holding out the gardener's hand of friendship. Later on beans, spuds (something nice to eat, not big floury storing ones), beetroot, strawberries. Ideas of pastoral paradise.
Ah bollocks, I know full well that my lettuce will probably bolt, and my basil will go black and some bastard robin will probably eat all the strawberries once my back is turned but the IDEA is so tempting...growing your own food, that's a magic idea! It's man's biggest achievement when you think about it, bugger the internal combustion engine or heart transplants, when you can feed yourself at will, you're a step up on the evolutionary ladder. I feel somehow...evolved.

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