Arthur took on his first Whitehawk Hill allotment seven years ago and was chuffed to get a shed as his Christmas present that year! Four years on, he was fortunate enough to be able to expand on to the neighbouring plot after it became vacant, so he now has two small, but very productive plots.
Arthur is very much a veg. man, but has gradually allowed other plants to grace his plot:
“I tend to concentrate on standard vegetables although recently I have tried to brighten things up with more bulbs and flowers. I realised after visiting other plots that mine looked a bit boring so have planted some shrubs, but they will take some time to mature. I also have strawberries, blackcurrants and raspberries, with some blueberries in separate containers.”
And what grows well in Arthur’s kingdom?
“I find beans grow well, especially broad beans, also leeks, onions and shallots. I tend to plant broad beans in Autumn to give them a good start, but this year the cold weather caught me out and they got frost burn, though fortunately now seem to be recovering.”
Root vegetables in contrast can be more troublesome, especially carrots, which Arthur puts down to the stony soil. Despite this, he still managed to get a good crop of parsnips this year. His other frustrations are the sporadic attacks of pigeons on his plants and the constant battle against weeds, both something he philosophically views as ‘part of allotment life’.
Being high up on the hill has taught him to be prepared for the strong winds that occasionally batter the site, making sure to firmly anchor everything down and mulching to prevent the soil drying out too quickly. His latest project is to make a walk-in fruit cage to protect his soft fruit from marauding birds. With the frame now up, he just has to get the netting firmly enough attached to stop it blowing away!
And what does Arthur most like about having his allotment?
“ I really enjoy the fresh air and the views. During the recent lockdown, the allotment has been my lifeline – giving me a focus and a sanctuary.”
To anyone taking on a new plot, Arthur advises that the first task should be to mark out the areas of the plot as you’d like them, and then work on one bit at a time; trying to do everything all at once can quickly become overwhelming and demotivating as you don’t seem to make much progress, so focus is key.
Thanks to Arthur for answering our questions and sharing information about his plot.
If you’re a plotholder on Craven Vale or Whitehawk Hill Allotments and would be happy to share your experience of gardening, then get in touch!