Thursday, 11 November 2010

A New Beginning - and befriending the snails!

I've just paid my allotment fees for the coming year. I see this day as a new beginning. Another chance to make the allotment work, to keep it maintained, and to create beauty and abundance - and order - there.

But I like a bit of wild disorder too!

I love being surprised by the sudden emergence of marigolds, nasturtiums or buttercups - or the chard, sprouting from the bottom of the compost heap.

It's true that once you commit to something it can really take off. I know that when I have committed to regular time and energy down the allotment, it has looked really good.

 I remember thinking, "Hey, this is easier than I thought! I just need to come here more often…".

My plot, or Allotment Garden as I like to call it, is only half the size of a regular plot. Yet still, I used to find it hard to maintain. But it's got progressively easier over the years, and I feel really excited about all the potential for the year ahead.

When I got back from the plot yesterday evening I felt really pleased with myself. I'd spent all afternoon clearing out my shed. It's the annual rubbish collection this week and this is the first year I've made the collection deadline.

The shed looks absolutely great. Everything is now in order and neat and tidy. This is going to be my best year yet!

I was totally alone at the plot - I love that. Even though it was warm and sunny, there was no-one around. Mind you, I was so busy clearing out the shed, I probably wouldn't have noticed anyone else!

As soon as I started to work I felt boiling hot and had to peel off my coat and cardigan. I worked for hours, non-stop, and I have to say (yet again) that I feel really pleased with what I achieved. I'm so glad I made the effort.

As a journal assignment, Rachel, my coach, asked me to consider the difference between 'feeling good' and 'fulfilment'. Well, doing the shed feels like fulfilment. It's something achieved and 'a job well done'.

It would have been great if I'd also raked up all the leaves and pulled up my dead runner beans and marigolds, but, I decided "You've done great Claire, that's enough for one day".

In clearing the shed, I rescued quite a few snails from going into the rubbish. They were attached to a lot of the stuff I was throwing away. I wasn't sure if any were alive, but picked them off anyway. I put some on a low wall and others on some concrete slabs.

The low wall was sheltered with foliage but the slab wasn't, so I gently placed some leaves over the snails as a camouflage. I must be a little crazy. I don't know any other gardeners who rescue snails. I don't know what it is, I just kind of like them.

As I looked back to the low wall, I saw one with its little neck and head out of its shell, eye stalks waving, slowly crawling away. At least one was alive then I thought, and I felt really pleased by that.

I came across quite a few spiders too amongst the plant pots and old carrier bags. One dived into a pile of dead ivy on the wooden shelf I'd just cleared. I was going to clear the shelf of the dead leaves but decided to leave them a little longer, as I didn't want to disturb him.

The ivy is growing inside the shed as well as out. I'm fairly easy with it as I think it's one of the things that is holding the shed together! I cut away ivy from the floor and the shelves but left the rest. I was about to cut one piece and suddenly changed my mind, thinking "No, you're not doing any harm there, you can stay".

I swear my garden plants communicate with me "Please, stop! Spare us!" I often get these feelings. If I don't take note of them, the next moment I either get stung by nettles, pierced by thorns, or have tiny flies dive bombing my eyes and trying to get into my ears. My garden does fight back if I'm not respectful.

I think my allotment garden is happy that I am not an ultra tidy gardener. I like a bit of greenery around the edges. For example, the shed has no window-glass and no door, and the ivy gives both openings a soft and beautiful green edge or 'frill'.

From the outside, the shed looks like a big green bush. Blackberry-bramble and hawthorn grow over it. My shed is Small Bird Heaven. They nest in the ivy and there is an abundant supply of insects and spiders and, later, blackberries.

When I trim the hawthorn I use the prickly twigs to protect my pea and bean seedlings. It works. I don't know whether it deters pigeons, mice, rats, slugs, or snails. But whatever ate them before, doesn't eat them once the hawthorn is in place.

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