A new allotment column from freelance mixed media artist and gardener Carol Parker

Carol Parker.

Carol Parker.

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I have a feeling this won’t be your usual gardening column!

I’ve only had my allotment since June last year and although I’ve always loved growing things I’m certainly no expert. But I’m keen, determined and love digging (but not the double kind). So I’ll be sharing stories; a bit like a cross between The Good Life and The Archers, with a bit of art thrown in for good measure... because that’s what I do when I’m not digging.

Allotments are full of lovely people who share their knowledge, surplus plants and water with you when your butt has fallen over in the wind. They’re folk that like gardening with no fences because they like to chat. But if you see an allotment holder with his/her rear in the air and head in the soil madly chucking stuff in a bucket... leave them alone; they need time to get whatever it is out of their system!

Allotments are brilliant because they save you money on gym membership: all that fresh air and manual labour beats the hell out of a cross trainer. They provide you with the freshest food you’ve ever tasted and the satisfaction that you grew it yourself. They give you space and time to think, to laze in a deckchair and drink tea from a thermos; they give you an excuse to eat chocolate and the space to fail, without being judged.

My veg plots are small with grass paths between, like raised beds but without the neatness of the ‘raised’ bit. I grow whatever my neighbours kindly leave at my shed door or have over once they’ve done their planting. I love beans, they’re easy, and ruby chard because of the beautiful colour. They all get thrown in together, to take their chance.

I like to share my plot. During the summer I offered the space to a group of young people from the National Citizens Service to work on a community project and this month I’m holding a small (well, has to be really!) exhibition of stitching in my shed. Art and growing, tea and chocolate... and with any luck some sun soon too!

Blog: http://theshed1.wordpress.com