No.27 is more than just an allotment to me, it is my second home, my retreat, my hideaway and most importantly the only place where my mind goes blank, my stress levels calm and my anxiety disappears.
6 years ago I suffered terribly from anxiety, so much so that I couldn’t leave the front door on my own. Even if I was with family or friends just going outside would turn me into a shaking crying wreck until I could find a way to just breathe and calm down.
I remember at my worst having to go for an interview in London, this job was a massive opportunity for me that I couldn’t risk not trying for. The difficulty was I live an hour and a half train and tube ride from London; so what did I do? I took my two ‘safety’ objects (having these was the only way I would go outside) in my bag, got on the train and cried and shook the whole way there with people staring. But I got there and even got offered the job. Without doing that journey, I don’t think I would of eventually overcome my anxiety how I did or be where I am today.
Back to my point, at this stage in my life I lived in a flat with no allotment or garden, it was either stay in my flat or go outside in a world at that point I found incredibly scary. Luckily I am a ridiculously determined person which meant that I would push myself outside even that meant crying, shaking, carrying water or constantly being on the phone to family everywhere I went alone.
I would say it took about 2 years to feel completely comfortable outside on my own without my two ‘safety objects’, but every now and then it still shows its ugly face and I have to give myself a strict talking to, phone somebody to distract my mind, or the best remedy; go the allotment.
I wish back then I had an allotment or at least a garden that was an outside barrier or let’s say a next step between indoors at home and outside. I know it is a hot topic for the RHS currently but I do think gardening and having my own outdoor space would of helped me tremendously and could help so many millions of people suffering from anxiety and mental health illnesses today.
A community garden or allotment should be prescribed by the NHS; It makes you believe you can achieve something more than you ever thought, gives you a focus, confidence, pushes you outside your comfort zone, gives you space just to be you, clear your mind of the worry and just breathe.
Now tell me any drug or remedy can that do all of that? There isn’t one.
This weekend, after a very busy week at work and in between a full day at University yesterday doing exam practice ahead of the 19th, I managed to visit the allotment. Roughly got 3 hours in yesterday and the same today. I leave shattered but clear-headed, even if it lasts for just a few minutes afterwards.
No.27 is now looking back in order and all the dug beds are now full. Alongside lots of watering, weeding and feeding, I sowed a row of Rhubarb Chard and a row of Spinach, planted out my Brussels sprouts, 7 Delphiniums and 2 Hellebore seedlings.
Before I left I then took some time just to take everything in, see how all my plants were growing, and what delicious delights they were producing. My mini-cucumbers have started forming in the greenhouse, the tomatoes are hitting the roof, the pumpkins and squashes are filling out, my new mint plants are smelling divine and the runner beans are flowering. The first carrots are nearly ready, so is more beetroot, the activity is non-stop.
I love it!
Roll on the 19th when my exam is out of the way and I can spend the whole summer up there! More beds to dig, but my main aim is to clear the shed and give it a good dose of No.27 personality, the bunting needs to go up and so do all the lovely pictures I have collected.
10 days and counting!
PS. Thank you to each and everyone of my followers and readers; you inspire me daily and motivate me to continue to share my journey, enthusiasm and passion for growing your own.