1 Posting up "before and after" pictures! Appropriately here are two views of the plot from the front, on the first day we got the plot last year, and then three taken the same day a year later.
2 Experiencing light and crisp days during last winter, which got me through a much dreaded time of year for me. I loved being on the plot when very few other people were, getting warm and enjoying the quiet.
3 Proudly cropping our first veg- overwintered and undersized onions, which we thought at the time were well worth the effort! And then enjoying the other firsts- like the Charlotte potatoes, my first successful sweetpeas, and the attractive, but not very productive tomatillo
4 Meeting new allotmenteers- it's been lovely to chat, even if all the chat of late has been about the constant thefts.*
5 ..... And reading great allotment and gardening blogs- and exchanging comments with the authors- very friendly and helpful folk
6 Watching and trying to encourage the wildlife: we've seen frogs and toads; loads of birds (and hear parakeets all the time); mice; lovely butterflies and moths; and the star for us- the grass snake caught in our fruit nets but released to slither off to one of the most polluted waterways in London, our delightful Dagenham Brook.
A strange cocoon found last week amongst the fennel
7 Planning- I love to plan! When we started we had a good framework on the plot, underneath the massive carpet of strangulating bindweed and bramble, and that's really helped. I'm happy with the permanent features (for now) that we have put in like the herb bed, which has thrived.
8 Having friends take an interest and visit- more please! We had a couple of lovely barbeques, and we've also benefited from advice and seeds. I hope people enjoy reading my posts- I know I don't get a huge amount of traffic but I am pleased that some lovely old friends read posts even if they don't comment!
9 Having meals made almost entirely from allotment produce. Not only is the fruit and veg satisfying, fresh tasting and perhaps with more vitamins and minerals than supermarket ones, I am surprised to reflect that the plot has been remarkably cost effective. There hasn't been much outlay as we have all the tools needed, have used cheap and home-made compost, and employed the traditional allotmenteers' mantra of make-do and mend.
Potatoes, French Beans, Sungold and Gardeners' Delight tomatoes, lettuce, rocket, fennel. Eggs and mayonnaise not from the plot.
Potatoes, Chard stems and fennel braised in white sauce with veggie sausage done chorizo style, chard and spinach, Bloody Butcher tomato
Autumn Bliss raspberries- we've had these almost every day from June until now
10 Spending hours bottling cherries, freezing masses of soft fruit, using runner and French beans in every meal, and now preserving pears a-plenty. Some will hopefully find its way to people as presents- as have big bunches of flowers.
11 Enjoying the tiny things- like Borage seeds shaped like little grazing creatures
and the details of flowers and insects
12 Being able to plant clematis and other things we wouldn't like to chance in our rented garden
The delightful Polish Spirit
As I hope you've seen we've really enjoyed our first year and hope it may continue!
* E and H: you may be shocked to hear that whilst we have only suffered from one theft it is the shocking loss of Motorbike Boy- we like to think he is riding in pastures new. Dino has not yet recovered.