Digging in the dark

Tim Young - 27 May 2011

No, not a metaphor for my life (or if it is then that’s a story for another time), but unfortunately a fair description of my recent ‘leisure’ time. With daylight now extending past nine, I’ve spent several evenings in the last week ‘popping’ up to the allotment after the kids are in bed to try and catch up and get some more beds ready for the seedlings that should already be planted.

We’re actually making some progress – with the help Lucas and his shears on Saturday, and Bob, the allotment site rep and his petrol driven strimmer on Wednesday night we’ve cleared up the elephant grass at the back, and we also managed to get some climbing beans in at the weekend. My battle against the invasive perennial weeds continues though.

The thing is there’s something both compelling and infuriating about digging out bind weed and couch grass roots (thankfully the dandelions seem to be licking their wounds, for now). No matter how many times you dig each plot, there is always another fragment of root to be found, and there is always ‘one more’ metre of earth to turn before packing up for the night. And then another. And then another.

It’s quite an introspective business digging I find, and as the daylight fades, the white roots become almost luminescent against the darkening earth. I’m finding it very hard not to take the weeds' efforts to grow personally, especially the bind weed, and on three occasions this week it’s effectively been ten o’clock and pitch black by the time I’ve packed up. What was it the man said about raging against the dying of the light? Perhaps the last week has been a metaphor for life after all.

Tim is editor of the Soil Association's Living Earth magazine, and has written on food, health and consumer issues for the last ten years. When not at work Tim is normally being run ragged by his two young sons. In 2009 Tim started trying to grow vegetables, and last year he took on an allotment. Two years later he is still trying to grow vegetables, and is very hopeful that one day soon he will have some success.


Tim Young
21 June 2011 12:10

Golly. Erm, thanks for the comment annoyed of bristol, though I'm not sure quite what to make of it. You seem to be annoyed because I've been visiting the allotment (which I waited two years for) in my evenings (once my kids are in bed), in order to pull out weeds (again and again), mow grass, dig beds and plant vegetables until it gets dark, because someone on a waiting list would be able to do something more useful with the plot? Have I got that right? I'm just a little confused as to what that person would do with it. Still, apologies if I've upset you.

annoyed of bristol
05 June 2011 22:33

Dear Tim, Some tips: Grass - mow it weeds - pull out or hoe. when they come back, do it again. kids - leave at home with wife for two hours, do stuff. You look after them next time while she works. Raging against light? - stop it or let someone on the waitin list have your allotment so they can do something useful with it. Yours sincerely, Someone on a waiting list

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