I is for …

August 11, 2011 at 11:00 pm 10 comments

… inspired by old people.When I first got my allotment I spent more time researching how to grow vegetables than actually doing it.  Fortunately it soon dawned on me that the best way to learn was to get outside, sow some seeds and see what happened.  Allotment folk, many of whom still fit the retired male stereotype, are very generous with their time, knowledge and spare plants:  all invaluable to a new grower lacking in confidence and know-how.  Tips are shared off the cuff with no thanks expected if you bring in a bountiful harvest as a result or offense taken if advice goes in one ear and out the other.
One of my greatest sources of inspiration at the allotment is 86 year old Henri. Whenever I stop to chat a familiar pattern emerges.
Henri:  ‘Have you got letttuce/redcurrants/beans/greengages? (etc)
Me:  ‘growing or to eat?’
Henri :  ‘to eat.’ (I shake my head). ‘Come, follow me, I give you some’.
This inevitably leads to a little tour of the beds on the way to the lettuces/redcurrants etc with much gesturing from Henri and nodding from me.  I love the way he points to something, asks ‘You know why I do that?‘ and smiles broadly whether I guess correctly or have to say ‘no idea, you tell me.’  

There are so many things I’ve learned from Henri over the years but for today’s post here are some snaps from his plot this afternoon.  I like to think they capture an Italian way of companion planting but I think Henri would simply say
‘if I see soil, I plant something.’
Courgettes and tomatoes growing between runner bean poles (the shade keeps moisture in the ground for thirsty plants).
Lettuce, purple sprouting and dwarf beans between rows of strawberry plants (they’ll be gone by the time the runners spread and it keeps the weeds away).
Beets between beans.

And my absolute favourite (even if it doesn’t look pretty!). Purple sprouting between cut down broad bean plants (it keeps the birds off.  No need to net them as the birds won’t land on the ground if they can’t safely see around them for predators/annoyed allotment holders).

© The first image is from ‘We are what we do’ – a brilliant website from the creators of ‘Change the world for a fiver’.  There’s so much I could say about this fantastic initiative but the website says it so much better.

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Entry filed under: A-Z challenge, home life.

H is for … J is for …

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Janet/Plantaliscious  |  August 12, 2011 at 5:52 am

    Love it. The best thing about allotments, to me as a newbie, is the camerarderie and generousity of other plotholders.

    Reply
  • 2. Nic's Husband  |  August 12, 2011 at 8:32 am

    i is for In-Laws, without which, this year, our plot would have been a right old mess!

    Reply
  • 3. Joanna  |  August 12, 2011 at 1:26 pm

    I need tips like these! I feel quite inspired by you too and agree wholeheartedly about drawing on the collective wisdom of our friends and neighbours, What could be nicer than sharing knowledge and fruit ? I can’t think of anything myself.

    Reply
  • 4. emilysincerely  |  August 12, 2011 at 4:02 pm

    I stopped by to check out your alphabet in august entries. These letters are really making my think in a different way lately. What a great I! I am always inspired by older people. I glean as much as I can from my older neighbors in the garden, life, investments, car repair, etc. I think it is always good to listen, whether you go an apply what they tell you or not. I can always take the information and use it to make my own decisions. Love the allotment photos and the companion planting. That is great fun.

    Reply
  • 5. greg becker  |  August 12, 2011 at 7:22 pm

    great post, Henri sounds like a real natural, someone in love with the process of growing things.

    Reply
  • 6. Shaheen  |  August 12, 2011 at 7:32 pm

    I’ am thoroughly enjoying reading through your alphabet posts. They are very uplifting and certainly brightening my mood. I miss the wise dudes at my previous allotment plots; as well as my elderly neighbour Nessie who passed away last year 😦 but I know I will find some more kind souls in the future.

    Reply
  • 7. Mal  |  August 12, 2011 at 7:44 pm

    So, I is for Information?

    Reply
  • 8. Nip it in the bud  |  August 13, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Janet – as much as I’d love to be growing vegetables outside my back door I’d miss the community aspect of allotment gardening. I’d probably also find I was rubbish at it left entirely to my own devices!

    G – nice one :o)

    Joanna – I was going to leave it at ‘inspired’ but knew the post would just go on and on and on once I started talking about fellow bloggers, wonderful friends etc!

    Emily – thanks for popping over – it’s certainly been a thought provoking challenge. Kivuli is a gorgeous cat :o)

    Greg – he is. He grows Italian grapes on his plot from seed he hid in the handkerchief in his top pocket over 60 years ago.

    Shaheen – lovely to hear from you and glad you’ve been finding the posts cheering. It must be hard being in a transition phase at the moment but once you’re in Wales I’m sure you’ll have all sorts of tales about the wonderful allotment folk down there.

    Mal – indeed!

    Reply
  • 9. fiona mayhem  |  August 30, 2011 at 10:31 am

    How lovely. It really is great to have great people to learn from. Despite what I said about my neighbours thinking I’m mad, they are all really friendly and kind, and also an inspiration.

    You have also been inspiring, Nic. I was inspired by your encouraging and kind words about my blogging, and so have decided to take a chance. Most of my posts are recipe ones at the moment, but I will write about growing and seasonal produce as I get the rhythm going. I am still fiddling with the look of the thing, but soon I will be brave enough to link to it when I comment. Thank you very much.

    Reply
    • 10. Nip it in the bud  |  September 3, 2011 at 6:56 am

      People are a constant source of inspiration/amusement/help.
      Are you blogging regularly now? I look forward to following your seasons and recipe making

      Reply

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