Allotment Visit to Cody Smith, Milnthorpe, Cumbria

On Wednesday we went up to Milnthorpe in Cumbria to judge an allotment for Britain’s Best Allotment Competition. To be honest I wasn’t really looking forward to the drive, it’s 160 miles each way, but it turned out to be well worth it.

Cody Smith

Cody Smith on his Allotment

Allotment Plot

An Allotment Plot with a lot of Dahlias

Cody Smith and Parents

Cody Smith and Parents on the Plot

The allotment is operated by a remarkable young man, Cody Smith, who at the tender age of 14 already has a thriving flower business and handfuls of top show prizes for his dahlias. Jealous? Moi?

His plots (he has 2) are on a small site of 14 plots but there’s a much larger associated site nearby in Milnthorpe where he met well known dahlia grower Jack Gott who took to mentoring Cody.

Most allotments grow vegetables and perhaps a few flowers for decoration and cutting but Cody’s plots are the reverse. His primary ‘crop’ is dahlias and he has 800 plants growing but the other beds are a riot of colour with various cutting flowers.

I wouldn’t be surprised to find him on Gardener’s World in 10 years time – he’s obviously going places.

The site itself was tucked away between houses down a little track that you could easily miss. Sadly some of the plots were neglected and very weedy which makes a problem for the keen gardeners on the rest of the site. An all too common allotment problem.

I know on some sites they start people with a half plot and only after they’ve shown they can handle it allow them to take on a full plot, which seems a reasonable idea when plots are short on a site.

A full allotment takes time to look after and so many people have too little time. I say too little time but perhaps it would be more accurate to say too many demands on their time. 150 channels on TV plus downloads plus web sites to visit (like mine!) for starters.

When we stayed with our friend in France who doesn’t have a computer and the TV is a dusty box in the corner, we seemed to have far more time for living. No checking the twitter or facebook, just pick up some tools and head for the plot.

Another reason to blame TV is that in the compressed world of TV growing your own is a simple matter of popping some seeds into the soil. [Fade to Black – Restore] Harvesting crops.

No wonder so many new gardeners get a shock when they come back after two weeks away to find fat slugs hiding in the tall weeds that have filled the space where their seedlings were. It wasn’t like that on the telly.

Posted in Allotment Garden Diary

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