The 2020 Goodlife – Our Allotment – By C. Harris & P. Harris

Rediscovering old Traditions in a modern world

My husband and I have been keen to promote environmental good practice where possible during our adult lives.

I had a passion for animals and wildlife when younger, and my husband joined the National Trust Careership scheme, thus beginning an environmental career in 2002.

As our lives have intertwined over the last 15 year’s we have developed a passion for sustainability, waste management and the environment, which has led us both back into study, focusing on food and the environment.

The Allotment

As a family of five we have endeavoured to live more sustainably but in a fast paced, convenience led society it has been a challenge.

This year is our third year working on our allotment at the back of the garden with real vigour to get it up and running, so that we can produce enough of our own seasonal fruit and vegetables of a good quality for 2/3 months.

The second year we planted our first potatoes, tomatoes, onions, cauliflower, broccoli, swede, pumpkins, corn, some herbs and lettuces. As a trial and error year we had some successes and mostly epic fails.

The cauliflowers never flowered, the broccoli ended up more tender stemmed, the squirrels got the corn and due to the wet weather, we got tomato rot and some plant never took.

Our successes were…the potatoes and broad beans…so not a lot of success!  

This year we started planning early, buying seeds from the Real Seed Company, alongside the seeds saved from previous years. Learning from our failures in the previous year we planned planting and garden design around work and university to maximise our time, then the world changed, lockdown began.

Having ordered topsoil, compost, woodchip and gravel for improvements, with unexpected time on our hands and three children at home we are involving them in the allotment as a way to educate and home school our children using our own back garden as the class room (if it stays dry).

Timeline for 2020

  • Drainage and landscaping completed
  • First seeds planted 14th March  
  • First germination of rocket on the 20th March.

Improvement works began as soon as the gravel and woodchip arrived, kids got involved digging, wheeling gravel and laying the wood chip.

In addition to growing fruit and veg we are very much interested in a holistic approach to the garden, incorporating pollinating plant, bee and bug homes, pond, wildflower patches and if possible, pollarding and coppicing.

What’s next?

Over the coming months we will continue introduce our plants outside, try and find more inventive ways to include the children in the process of what we are trying to achieve and keep ourselves busy in a very different environment during the COVID 19 pandemic.

Although rented, we are lucky to have a large garden that allows us to do this and over the coming weeks we hope to post ideas for people that have smaller gardens, yards or even balconies on what can be grown, built and utilised.

We will also need to figure out over the coming months how to can, jar, pickle and eat the 76 different varieties of fruit and vegetables we hope to grow so none of it goes to waste!

Read here for more top tips whilst on lockdown –