by Nicki Slater, The Imagination Workshop


It’s been an amazing month and I am astounded by how things have changed after a sunny spell. Everything looks so much happier for some warm sun, rain and my organic liquid feeding: all leaves are now a healthy green and everything is flowering. We have started harvesting in earnest and are eating courgettes, beetroots (both roots and leaves), potatoes, broad beans, lettuce, rocket, spinach, sorrel, lots of herbs and best of all CARROTS!  I had a brilliant feeling of satisfaction when I realised I didn’t have to buy something in the weekly shop because I had it ready to eat in the garden – a lovely sense of achievement knowing I could feed myself and my family. Plus everything tastes so fresh and juicy!

I have also got two proper compost bins on the go now and have started using all the raw waste rubbish from home to add to it. I’m surprised about how much we generate in the way of onion skins, potato peelings etc. I also purchased compost activator which promises to speed things up.

My main trouble this month has been the birds. Crows, wood pigeons and the slightly sinister magpies are all ganging together with a pack mentality to demolish my gardening efforts. They are by far the most destructive creatures on the allotment so far. I bought Bird Scarer Tape with the promise that no bird could tolerate the whirring, buzzing noise it emitted even in the slightest breeze. It had been up for approx 10 mins when an outsized wood pigeon landed it’s enormous bulk nearby, glanced contemptuously at it before completely ignoring it and tucked into a couple of juicy looking lettuce leaves right underneath it.  I have found that sturdy netting is the only way to protect the crops against bird damage. I did laugh when I saw a couple of them mating on top of the Allotment Community Notice Board containing advice about how to net your crops against pigeons.

I have to confess now that I have developed a sad addiction to Allotment Porn.  Magazines and books abound where everything is beautifully photographed with vibrant green leaves, shiny non-nibbled berries, glossy multi-coloured borlotti beans and onions so round and plump they are positively indecent. It all gives me a delicious thrill and I dream about exotic fruits and vegetables, glossy peppers, chillies, sweet corn, olives all things that I KNOW will not grow outside in cold, windy Edinburgh, but they are whispering enticingly to me … ‘Come on – try and grow me, you know you want to – it MIGHT work’.