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tales from the allotment; gardens.

Byline: Terry Walton of Rhondda Allotments and Radio Two fame

WELL here we are in another month of the garden year. July, the month of bountiful harvests, we hope, when all the results of our labours begins to yield tasty, fresh crops to fill our larders and enable us to feast on the fruits of our labours.

I hope it is a more memorable month than June, which we as gardeners would like to forget. The cold nights, heavy rains and very high winds gave us all troubled times and were the main topic of conversation on the allotment.

But despite the moaning of grumpy old men (and maybe women) the crops did not complain and many of them are thriving and making better time of the conditions than we did.

The plot is full, and not a piece of brown earth is visible anywhere.

So it is on with harvesting and as soon as a little piece of ground is emptied it is filled with catch crops of quick growing vegetables such as radish, lettuce, beetroot and spring onions. No point in wasting ground when there are still many months of growing time left. The best ground for these quick crops is where the early potatoes have been lifted because this is of fine tilth and very fertile. I aim to use at least 50% of my ground twice in a season.

Having been present on this allotment for half a century I am still amazed by some things that happen there.

Last week Bob arrived with a large picture frame, and mounted in it was a montage of pictures of him doing various jobs on his plot.

His daughter had taken these as he was working away and had them framed. This proves two things: he does do some work on the plot, and the look on his face shows his true love of gardening. This frame has been hung in pride of place in his "posh" shed and I am sure it will give him many happy memories in the long winter days of the pleasant hours spent on his plot. What a novel idea and a first for this allotment.

He is at it again... Carl, one of our younger members, is walking tall through the allotments offering the first courgettes he has picked to us "old" guys who are not ready to harvest them yet. He loves to be first.

We may look tough-skinned but this is only the weathered effect of many years on the allotment. Deep down we are all "softies" really and he loves to wind us up with his antics. But wait, young man, there is no substitute for experience and we still have a few tricks up our sleeves.

Seriously though, it is great to see so much enthusiasm in a young gardener and he already exhibits the greatest thing about allotment growing, the art of sharing your excesses with your fellow gardeners.

The future of allotment gardening is in safe hands if we can encourage and pass on our knowledge to younger gardeners. We all started this way and for many of us it has given us hours of pleasure and a lifetime of good friends, and, to cap it all, plenty of fresh, healthy produce.
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Jul 5, 2008
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