Sunday, September 18, 2011


The first thing I ever grew was a sunflower.  I was ten, and it started life alongside 35 other milk-cartons on a school windowsill.  I took it home for the summer holidays and it grew to be taller than me in the front porch.  I was hooked.

In the years after, I slowly expanded into marigolds and dabbled in poppies and snapdragons.  When I was 15, we moved house, and the very first year an unspoken rivalry began with my new neighbour to grow the tallest sunflower.  He always won, until I discovered his secret weapon (tomato food).  I grew some peas one year, herbs another, and slowly my interest grew.

In 2006, I bought a house with my sister and suddenly control of the garden was mine!  We dug up most of the back garden, I planted raspberry canes, lettuce and carrots and even grew courgettes in the front garden.  Growing our own food was a revelation – how good a radish tasted, fresh beetroot, crisp salad leaves. But it was a small garden…..

In September 2009 I was dreaming of having more garden, more space, more potential to expand.  I came across a site about private allotments in Donabate.  I rang the owner that afternoon, went to visit an hour later, and signed my lease the next day.  I now had LAND.

And it looked like this:

Going from grassy field to what the plot is today was a very gradual process.  I did some things right, a lot of things wrong, and learned so much.  This is how my plot looked last month:

This is after two  years of hard work, and with a lot of help from my family.  This assistance has ranged from helping me assemble my shed on a freezing day in February 2010, to turning up with lunch at just the right moment, to digging a pond and helping to eat mountains of courgettes.  Having an allotment is a communal enterprise.

This blog will hopefully give anyone who is thinking of renting an allotment an insight into what’s involved – the hard work, the benefits, the highs and lows.


  1. Best wishes with your new blog! Plot looks brilliant, looks like you've been tending it for years. The effort put in over the two seasons is very evident.

  2. Thanks Conn! It's been a good summer. But there's always more to do, as I'm sure you know!