It was mid-March 2020 and Covid-19 already hit Italy hard, when we were lucky enough to secure our allotment – that became the place of escape from all.
I just came out of a fortnight of self-isolation as the country entered to lockdown. While listening worryingly about the news day-to-day, I felt I got blessed with the much needed gift of time and a garden full of potential.
Potential of things I could try that fitted my thinking of abundance; experiments; relaxation and joy. Including composting, garden pond, organic growing and more. All things I could fit into some 200m2 or so.
The weather was on our side and we escaped there every day to work on various projects even for the short period of time exercising was allowed. Started with tidying the site and replanting strawberries, made a compost store; hugel beds; strawberry tower; composting toilet and a tyre pond with a small water play on the side. We used the bush trimmings of our neighbours, that would go to landfill due to the recycling centre being closed, in our hugel beds, under the slide and as footpath; used grass cuttings for the compost beds; thrown away wood for the toilet and garden furniture and foraged bricks from the seaside for the firepit.
It gave me the opportunity to try out some of the ideas I learnt of, do some research, design and build practical, hands-on stuff, while getting a 6-year old engaged through bug hunting, watering, planting – all the things a curious child can get involved in. We built an obstacle course that had been modified to a minigolf course – before its building blocks became part of the pizza oven and sandpit. We made a wormery – but found only two tenants due to the dry weather for the time being.
We have learned a lot, too. It was almost impossible to meet with other allotment holders and were a bit lacking of advice. The weather was great in the first 6 weeks or so into the lockdown – apparently, we had the driest spring for decades. So we started to sow various veggies and planted out seedlings that either didn’t want to grow or run into seeds in no time. We just learnt months later that beetroot, cauliflower and broccoli did much better when planting out around May.
I was afraid of slugs munching on our salads, but actually, birds caused more nuisance by picking on our tender peas and cabbages. The vine weevil didn’t spare much of our broccoli and kohlrabies either.
The potatoes were doing well and we kept filling the roots with soil, until we found out that potato blind is a returning problem, so we needed to cut the stems off.
Nevertheless, we enjoyed the fresh air, our home grown, remaining fresh veg and fruits, the latter in the form of strawberries and raspberries, and having family bbq every now and again.
If you are passing by, give us a wave, greetings from The Garden of Peace!