Back on Twitter and A visit to An Allotment

I missed some people. I really missed them. I missed the real people, the ones who aren’t on there purely to promote their businesses and campaigns, just the ones who like to bake and chat and play with words late at night. They’re fun and they feel like friends. I’d better add that there are some lovely baking business folk out there who I know, but they know who they are!

And here I am having a pretend that I have an allotment of my own, doing a little watering for a Twitter friend and being allowed to pick veggies while she is away. Isn’t that kind of her?

These allotments sit in full sun with a view over the rooftops of Horfield Prison. They are full of the scent of sweet peas, towering sunflowers, bright red bean flowers, purple cardoons, beets popping out of the soil, courgettes greening up everywhere.  There are little sheds, covers, seats, water troughs; bees and hoverflies hum and buzz. If an Englishwoman’s home is her castle, her allotment is where she goes to get it all in perspective.

If I didn’t have a garden to tend I would put my name down for one of these faster than you can say knife.

Thank you my friend Mitch!

To find out more about allotments, it’s so easy these days to google and find out where there are vacant plots near you. Bristol has a map and links to all the sites in the city here and information on how they are run and how to apply for one.

I’m editing this to add some links to related and useful sites: If you want me to add any more please use the contact form to tell me about them.

35 thoughts on “Back on Twitter and A visit to An Allotment

    1. Joanna Post author

      Still not much good at puns… but a little wordplay makes the neurons fire in unexpected ways, all good :)

  1. Amanda

    The glorious display on your banner at the top of the page is making me yearn for the spring riot in my own garden – even though I know how much work it will bring with it. Thanks for the hint of warmer things to come.

    1. Joanna Post author

      The world of the allotment is full of flowers and intensive cultivation of veggies and fruits, small paths and slopes, it’s very peaceful and I understand why people escape to their sheds for some quiet time better having visited this one.

  2. Andrew

    Nice to see you back, Joanna. These days am not sure I even have time to use twitter for promoting the business, let alone any chatty tweeting. Nonetheless, will do my best to entertain from time to time.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I’ve sent you a chatty email Andrew. I don’t know how true baking folk like you find the time for the ephemera of social networking. Take care x

  3. heidi

    Look at the treasure in your basket!
    And the flowers- especially the glads in the border/banner pictures!
    A full sun garden is quite a find. Your friend Mitch has given you a true gift of access to her garden. Thanks for sharing the photos.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Do you have allotments in your part of the world Heidi? It’s an old movement started in the 18th century and originally intended to give the rural poor somewhere to grow food for themselves following the Enclosures Act, Napoleonic Wars, and other complex factors. More recently there is the Landshare movement which has spread to other countries like Australia I believe.

      I am going to make some summery ratatouille now! Treasure indeed from lovely Mitch!

      1. heidi

        We have community gardens in the big cities.
        In suburban areas, there is a designated allotment of gardens outside the neighbourhoods for a garden plot. I don’t think as many people take advantage of the program as could- but then people have gotten so busy working.

        1. Joanna Post author

          They seem eternally popular here, though I saw some that were just flowers today. Not many people about but it was a big site.

  4. Ronnie

    Hello! I discovered your blog through Freshly Pressed and realised you are an English Garden blogger as well as a Twitterer. Then I noticed that Carl left a comment. Hope we can meet up on Twitter, and I look forward to following your blog.
    Mine is Ronnie

    1. Joanna Post author

      HI Ronnie, thanks for visiting – I mostly write about bread baking but I do put pictures up of the garden and places where I walk from time to time. I’m going to pop over and visit you right now. Best Joanna

  5. Celia @ Fig Jam and Lime Cordial

    Such beautiful photos, Joanna! I’ve never quite got my head around the allotment thing – we don’t really have them here much – how do you stop people nicking your produce? Is it just an honesty system, or are the blocks gated in some way?

    I have been reading about the River Cottage Land Share initiative – has that been big in Bristol? Apparently the waiting time for allotments can be 10 years. Looks like it’s definitely worth waiting for though – such an abundance of colour and produce in your pics!

    1. Joanna Post author

      I am sure there is a percentage of theft and vandalism, but the plots I walked past all looked lovely and full of summer produce. There is a fence round the outside of the land and a padlocked gate that allotment holders have keys for. I am going to do a post shortly about some other community growing I have seen this summer.

      There are allotments available in Bristol, I looked the other day, though whether they are where you want them is another question. There are also community gardens, orchards and farms,some old, some new. Our land use pattern is created by history, politics, industrialisation and population. I would have to do a lot more research to answer you properly. I don’t know how many individuals in this city are involved in Landshare projects.

  6. Choclette

    Lovely looking allotments – just as they should be. We gave ours up a few years ago as they were all a bit too narrow minded and only liked rows and weed killer – no flowers! Luckily, we now have a wonderful plot down on a friend’s field. Made me laugh to here you were back on Twitter ;-)

    1. Joanna Post author

      I glimpse various allotments on hillsides here and there around, some adjacent to parks as well. There seem to be loads of them. Choclette I know I have no will power. I wanted to tell someone that the figs were ripening in the garden. That was excuse enough to tweet again. I’ll see how it goes this time…

    1. Joanna Post author

      On Twitter someone suggested we show our faces on Mondays, (you can change your profile picture there and then back again). I think allotments are beautiful with their patchwork patterns of plantings and sheds. I’ve always wanted an old style walled kitchen garden.

  7. C

    Perhaps I’ll have to try and make twitter work for me if you’re back :-)

    I love your pictures of those allotments – quintessential English summer pictures, and beautiful for it. I only realised just how hard people work at keeping allotments well tended when I had an (abortive) attempt at growing in my own back garden. I couldn’t even manage that, and the garden is attached to the house, let alone finding time to go down to an allotment! You are indeed lucky to have such a friend!

    1. Joanna Post author

      I think this theme is becoming very popular, I am seeing quite a few blogs using it at the moment. I think people work hugely hard on their gardens and green spaces, and some are so tidy and clean that you think they must spend every spare moment they have on them. We are a bit wild at home at the moment, and one of the trees is suffering a bit in the heat. Planning some baking by way of a thank you!

  8. teawithhazel

    that’s such a lovely allotment..having a vegetable/edible flower garden of my own i know how precious it is to me and so i imagine your friend would have been delighted that you gave her garden some love..jane

    1. Joanna Post author

      It is simply that she didn’t want to waste any food that was growing. I am looking at my two fruit trees at home and thinking too many apples and pears are going to be ripe all at the same time and wondering who might want some. I do think that swapping is a great idea, or simply gifting it away. I like the simplicity involved. Love to you too x

  9. cityhippyfarmgirl

    What a wonderful garden space your friend has Joanna…and lucky you for getting to look after it for a bit. I really do like the idea of community gardens, the rambling greenery and different things growing everywhere.
    (The word allotment always makes me think of watching Eastenders as a kid :-))

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hee hee Arthur Fowler was always on his allotment wasn’t he? In the garden centre they now sell more vegetable seeds than flower seeds I was told.

  10. frandough

    Hi Joanna an all,

    I will post pics of my allotment I have potatoes onions and shallots ready to harvest at the moment.
    I also grow flowers roses in particular.

    I was very dissapointed when I returned from Bristol all my fruit raspberries and goosberries, black currants, had dissapeared it was very suspicious not just the birds!!

    Ce la vie I adore tending and growing my plot weeds and all.

    Best Wishes


    1. Joanna Post author

      You were here? Sorry to miss you. I love roses but I’m not very good at growing them in my own garden. There is a fabulous rose garden though adjacent to Ashton Court Mansion in Bristol where we go and walk from time to time. Sorry to hear about your fruit going, that’s very sad. I heard a lovely programme on the radio about the gooseberry the other day. Not my favourite fruit but it seems to evoke grand passions in many people :)

  11. Melanie

    What wonderful, beautiful community garden plots! I was amazed when I also saw there were sheds. We have some community gardens here, but I don’t think they are hugely popular because no one has time to garden anymore, or at least they just don’t care to. In the ones we do have, people just grow veggies, no flowers and there are certainly no sheds. How lucky you are to get to tend to your friends garden!! I loved seeing the fruits of my labor when I had a garden and it was fun giving some of it away to neighbors who looked at me like I was crazy for growing my own stuff.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi Mel, I have a garden of my own so I don’t think I could manage an allotment too, we talk about it sometimes and what we would be able to grow if we did. We would grow vegetables that need more space than we have currently. Though we could take out the flower beds and the dog’s grass area and plant it all with vegetables… maybe one day we will do that, but no plans right now. The sheds are great aren’t they ? There is definitely a strong movement towards growing your own food here, and in the current economic climate it seems to be more popular than ever.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I think I have been missing out all these years – they definitely have a spirit of place that’s unique, maybe it’s the exclusion of cars, maybe it’s simply love?

  12. jan trounce

    I love the photos – I gave you a wave Joanna! I particularly like the little shed, very peaceful little spot – what an irony that it all overlooks a prison. I think allotment gardens go way back in English history don’t they. My gathered impression was that they were not only a necessary way of providing for the family but great growers of a sense of community. We have a community garden in Wynnum where I live but the initial one had to be moved for – and I don’t know what the reason was – the local residents objected strenuously and someone ruined the soil by emptying swimming pool salt over it. It’s hard to comprehend such mean, dry and boney spirits – the complete opposite of the ‘communiteers’.

    1. Joanna Post author

      Hi Jan (waving back) ! How did I miss your lovely words? I remember learning about ‘strip’ farming at primary school, I wonder if the allotments are somehow connected to that, conceptually at least. I found an article here that gives some of the early history

      I don’t think everything is roses in the allotment world, see Mitch’s post below, but on my brief visits there this last week, I definitely viewed it through rose tinted glasses ;)

  13. Mitchdafish (@mitchdafish)

    Joanna, I was so pleased that you could visit my allotment while I was away, you are just the person to write about it too, having such a wonderful way with words. It is lovely to see it through other people’s eyes, and I feel all cozy about it.
    Since my return, a sign has gone up saying that there has been theft from plots, fellow allotmenteers suspected!
    Some of the courgettes have schlonged already, will have my work cut out at the allotment over the next few weeks, everything is going everywhere at the same time.

    1. Joanna Post author

      I probably romanticize the whole thing, but it was great to have a peep at it and it prompted long reminiscences from Brian whose parents had a market garden at Cheddar when he was a child, picking the strawberries in the evening and packing them up to catch the early morning train and so on. He is a much better gardener than me. I am glad you like the post. I took the pictures as we walked down to your plot. There was hardly a soul around and everything was growing in such abundance, I am surprised that there is theft there. That is very sad :(

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