SOCIAL ISOLATION THE ANTIDOTE

THE CHANGES

by John Yeo

    The allotments are a fruitful place to ponder on the ever-changing cycles of the planting year and the changes of the scenery as man made structures appear. People are making the most of this early period to erect greenhouses, polytunnels and coldframes. Perennial flowers are a sure sign of continuous change. At the end of winter the snowdrops are the first flowers to appear, closely followed by daffodils and primulas and hyacinths.

The hardy vegetables that have survived the windy blasts of winter, such as kale, leeks and broccoli are finishing their cycle of life and then the weather dictates the garden year. The soil has to be warm to enable seeds to be set and it is interesting to see the changes of method aligned to the natural cycle of weather.

At the beginning of spring more birds appear as the breeding cycle begins. An unusual sight is a pair of large seagulls that have taken up residence, one is on the waste green part of the allotments every day, just watching and taking in the scenery.

Many subtle changes are slowly taking place that will dictate the eventual results of the growing cycle. Perhaps a new greenhouse on a neighbouring allotment will allow a new barter system to operate as plants are swapped between friends. Small changes that can result in large alterations as life on the allotments goes forward.

The Coronavirus pandemic that is sweeping the world at present is possibly making permanent changes to the way most people view the natural world. The decision to make Allotments a part of the required daily exercise during the self isolation lockdown was a blessing for the many vegetable gardeners in the UK. Gardening is an occupation that brings peace of mind in any circumstance. The feeling of creating a small space tailored with a variety of plants or vegetables is a pathway to health both of the body and the mind. The satisfaction of sowing seeds in your patch, watching the plants slowly mature, then taking care of them is a constant occupation. The ongoing fight against plant predators and diseases is constant. Yet gardening is always a calming pleasure, as the wonder of the natural cycle of life with the company of wild birdlife and small creatures unfolds in and around the allotment.