I’m Katrina (29) and I’ve had plot B152 at the historic site of St. Ann’s Allotments, Nottingham since September 2014. I’m very lucky to have an allotment at this Grade II listed heritage site as it belongs to the largest and oldest allotments in Europe.
I’m still very much a beginner when it comes to gardening and growing! I’ll be sharing my tips, notes and observations from the plot throughout the year as I take on new projects and grow different varieties of fruit, vegetables, flowers and shrubs.
Growing up I remember my parents re-designing our small back garden and my dad made this own raised beds at the side of the garden with railway sleepers. I use to be scared of the wasps that swarmed around the beans in summer and dad complaining about his clay soil, but he still grew the most delicious potatoes! I’ve always loved being outside and especially in the garden. After I finished university and moved into a flat I realised just how much I needed and outside space of my own. I think being close to nature and engaging all your senses with the outdoors plays an immense part in mental wellbeing. After hitting a low part in my life, I decided to put my name on the waiting list to get an allotment and it’s one of the best life-changing things I’ve ever done!
I’ve had my allotment at St Ann’s Allotments, Nottingham for four years now and if I have a day off I’ll 100% be there in my own little world. My little plot is 300sqm and has an apple tree, a plum tree and lots of natural hedgerows. It’s actually on a Grade II listed heritage site that thought to be the oldest and largest allotment site in Europe, with over 650 plots! The site has miles and miles of hedgerows, Victorian brick houses, areas for wildlife, original glass houses and community gardens that are open to the public. My plot actually neighbours Oliver’s Heritage Display Garden that shows the changes in british garderning throughout the centuries.
Why do I grow My own Food?
I grow my own good because I love to cook! If you eat seasonally you’re enjoying some of the freshest foods and the flavour of homegrown cannot even come close to bland-tasting supermarket food. Homegrown food makes meals so much more satisfying to eat. One of the things I love most about growing my own food is the types of varieties that are available to grow from seed that you otherwise wouldn’t even know existed! I’m talking about the yellow tomatoes, black tomatoes, purple carrots and heirloom varieties that are hundreds of years old! Growing my own food challenges my cooking. I have to think of new and exciting ways to use the unlimited supply of courgettes through summer. Or I make chutneys and jams to preserve my homegrown foods throughout the year. You can bring back the taste of summer in one bite of strawberry jam on toast, when the temperature outside is icy cold!
I Grow Organically
I use preventative measures against pests and have never used pesticides, slug pellets or herbicides on my allotment as I try to grow as organically as possible. Instead, I rotate my crops each year to prevent a build up of disease and grow the plants and provide habitats for the predatory creatures such as hedgehogs, frogs and birds to eat the offending pests.
In the Community
If I grow too much food or if it grows too big, I donate food to my local church who use the produce to make nutritious meals for some of the most vulnerable members of our community. I find the online community for gardeners (Youtube, Instagram and forums) such a valuable place to connect, share ideas and give advice! I’m very active on Instagram where I’ve been involved in seed and plant swaps which are great fun. Being a young gardener I don’t get to meet any likeminded people in person, so I find that my Twitter and Instagram are great ways to find and meet similar gardeners online.
A Piece of Advice to Novice Gardeners
I’ve cleared my entire 25mx15m plot by myself over three years and it is hard work! Don’t let anyone else tell you otherwise. If you going to take on a piece of land, try not to get overwhelmed by the size of the task. Carefully clear it bit-by-by and this way, you can discover any crops you already have growing. Oh and most importantly, track your progress! This is one of the reasons I started my blog but just taking photos is particularly important, no matter how messy it looks! This gives you a progress post to look back on. When digging up all the bind weed (my pet hate!) gets too much and you think you cannot go on, take a look at your photos to realise how far you have already come. It’ll make you feel much better!