Plot 55, Southwells Farm Allotments, Southampton

For a while now I’ve been pining for a smallholding, gorging myself on River Cottage and reading more than enough self-sufficiency blogs. I sat down a few weeks ago and thought ‘I wish I had an allotment’ and then I realised that I was an adult and an allotment was not something totally unrealistic. For once I had an earthy ambition I could achieve.

After several emails back-and-forth with the parks department at Southampton City Council I found myself at their offices on Wednesday morning signing the lease for my new plot. Plot 55, in fact, on Southwells Farm allotments down by the docks in Millbrook. It is both daunting and incredibly exciting and I ache all over from my first day there.

It’s 10 rods in all, 120ft by 20ft with some outbuildings in situ and well-worked clay soil. Christopher and I arrived on our bikes after I’d signed the papers and spent the day making the first steps on the long journey toward harvesting some delicious produce.

Our very friendly neighbour told us the plot had been abandoned last year when the owners moved away to a house they had built themselves. One of the first things I did was clear the polytunnel of dead, dried out tomato plants and onions to make somewhere to shelter from the rain. Christopher started work digging out a potato patch at the very bottom of the plot and did a fine job creating our first bit of workable soil. The shed was in a sorry state but I covered the roof in tarpaulin, cleared out the rubbish and washed out the mud and insects that had covered the floor. 

I trundled up to Shirley on my bicycle to buy teabags, gardening gloves, seed potatoes and various other essentials and then down to Go Outdoors on Millbrook Road to pick up a camping stove, chair and kettle so that by the end of the day I was sat in the shed, cup of tea in hand drawing up a plan. There will be main crop rotation plots (with brassicas, root vegetables and legumes), raised beds with pumpkins and squashes, tomatoes and chillies in the polytunnel and a bee garden up by the shed. 

When I left on Wednesday evening the plot was already looking in much better shape with potatoes chitting in the shed, a good bit of workable soil and the runner bean fence and polytunnel clear of the last year’s dead crop. I think I’ve been quite lucky to take over a plot that was worked until quite recently rather than some of the incredibly overgrown and barren plots I viewed before this one. It even came with quite a few tools, a wheelbarrow, lots of netting and tarpaulin, covered beds (so that weeds have been kept at bay), the shed and polytunnel, pots, trays and plenty of wood for raised beds.

When I was in my shed on Wednesday evening I knew this was what I wanted to be doing with my time, what I should be doing with my time and the cranes moved along on the skyline and a train’s horn sounded out and I felt happy.

Posted on 3 April, 2014, 11:08pm. This post has 15 notes.
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