Allotment Restoration

A potted history of Winter 2017/18

600 locally-sourced, untreated larch stakes arrived to Glencullen Allotments in November last year and thus began the restoration effort of existing and abandoned allotments located in Glencullen, south county Dublin. The land needed to be cleared of disused waste and old fencing materials, the earth levelled and rotovated, plots staked with perimeters trenches for fencing to be buried and boundaries erected.  It didn’t take long for the weather to become a feature of this stop-start project!

Allotment Stake Pile

As is always the way with landscaping and gardening, it took a lot of preparation work in advance of re-fencing the existing allotments and building out a new block of allotment plots. All of the old allotment fencing was stripped out and new trenches dug around all the plots. The derelict allotments had been neglected a number of years and had returned to nature. The overgrowth needed to be scythed and strimmed back to ground level, the earth cleared of stones, heavy roots and left over pots, containers and mesh sheeting from bygone days. Once tamed, the entire area could be rotovated once, twice, three times to break up the sod and yield a medium to course tilth. This, for the most-part, we managed before New Year arrived.

Then the beast from the east hit

In between deep freezes we broke hard ground with fresh fence posts marking out the redesigned allotment plots, a range of 50 square metre, 80 square metre and 130 square metre areas. All work was done by hand, manually driving the stakes with a post rammer, digging the 1 foot trench around the boundaries of the allotment blocks, tacking and tautening the metre-high chicken wire fencing to the stakes before back filling the base of the fence and fitting hand-made garden gates to each plot.

It was excruciating work at times, frost-bitten fingers fumbling at metal staples and chapped hands bleeding as they held the chicken wire fast. Back-breaking and slow too, as the trenching shovel met with firm resistance from rock-hard soil and the weighted post-rammer grew heavier with every lift. But it was worth it. The allotments have transformed beyond recognition in less than a year since we took over. There’s now over 20 prime plots and I’m proud to say, we’re fully occupied, every one is in cultivation. The place is looking great, and that’s thanks to our plot-holders. We only laid the foundations for the allotmenteers to build on, and from a solid platform, the plots have grown individual identities representative of the gardeners who keep them. Time to sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labour blossom with the onset of Summer. Wishful thinking,

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