Friday, 10 October 2008

Elizabeth (Plots 327 & 328)

This is Elizabeth. She is Italian. She wouldn't let me photograph her, so I had to content myself with photographing her one and a half plots (the top half of her second plot was taken by an English man, who clearly was doing nothing with it, but she said she doesn't want it). She said that plot 327 was taken on by her father-in-law in the late fifties (I think), and when he died (30 years ago?), his wife kept it on, then passed it on to their son (her husband). He wanted to keep it because it reminded him of happy times with his father, but now Elizabeth is the one that does most of the work. She says, if he wants to be reminded of his father, he should come down here and do some work!

When I saw her, she was clearing the potato patch to plant onions and garlic. She pointed out that there were lots of weed seeds from annual weeds like speedwell. She said, if you let them flourish, they'll kill even big plants like cos lettuce and chicory, because they contain salt. Also, if you rotovate instead of digging, this leaves the seeds on the surface and they come back very quickly, whereas if you rough-dig a plot, the seeds are buried so deep they can't come back for a long time.

She was pleased when I told her that the plots either side of hers might soon be let out. They have been cleared recently by the tractor, but before that, they were very overgrown (I know because I was considering having one of them). She said the weeds from those plots had been a problem, as had the pigeons from the trees in the hedge. She wished one of the trees could be pruned, as it cast a shadow half way down her allotment at times. She also corroborated what the [looney] man said about these plots being wet - she told me a story about some English men on a nearby allotment who had dug trenches for their potatoes which were filling with water as they dug. "It's not Africa," she said. "We're not growing rice!"

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