Fruits of Labour

20 June 2021

I moved to Oxford (UK) in 2016 and we applied for a plot in local allotment in April 2017. After waiting for nearly 9 months, we were assigned a plot in Jan. 2018. I knew very little about planting seeds and growing vegetables when I started and every year I have been learning something new. For example, I recently learned that it is best to plant seeds in small tray inside our house, let it grow into a small plant for few days and then plant it outside. Last years, I directly planted seeds in the plant and the unforgiving weather of Oxford meant that most of them never became a plant. I also recently learned that it is best to sow pumpkin seeds flat instead of vertical position to avoid sowing them upside down. Furthermore, clearing weeds and unwanted growth every week is simpler and quicker than doing it after every few weeks. My confidence in growing fruits and vegetables are growing and I have started to dream of doing this in large scale at some point in my life.

We have harvested reasonable amount of fruits and vegetables from this small plot in the last 3 years. During the lockdown of COVID-19 pandemic, we greatly benefitted from the health benefits of working on a plot. One would never believe that the taste of freshly picked fruits and vegetables have a heavenly taste which is often missing in the fruits and vegetables found in supermarkets. This difference in taste is most likely because fruits of one's own labour are tastier than fruits of someone else's labour.

We let insects, slugs, birds, etc. have their share of our fruits and vegetables by not using things (e.g. nets, salt, etc.) that deter them. I have noticed that they only eat their share and leave the rest for us. For example, when we harvested our strawberries yesterday, we noticed that around 30% of the strawberries were half eaten or damanged by slugs and insects. The remaining were left intact for us. So, we picked them up and savoured the heavenly taste of fresly picked strawberry. We would not mind if the insects, slugs and birds ate more (or almost all) of our vegetables -- at least someone is enjoying our fruits of labour while we enjoy the health benefits of labour. (Update 26-June-2021) I have also noticed that if a branch contains 4-5 ripe strawberries, only 1 or 2 of those are eaten by slugs and insects and the remaining are left intact for us. The insects and slugs in our plot are content with what they can eat and therefore wise.

Here are some photographs showing our fruits of labour.

(March 2018) After a plot was allocated to us, we quickly prepared it for plantation.
(May 2018) Excited by first harvest of radish, they had a heavenly taste.
(Sep 2020) I bought two pumpkin plants from a garden center which had just opened after the months long COVID-19 pandemic which had started in March 2020. I planted them in June 2020 and harvested these three Pumpkins in Sep. 2020.
(May 2021) My confidence has grown now and therefore I bought a packet of pumpkin seeds and planted them in tray and placed them in a corner of my office. In just a span of 6 days, the seeds burst into bright green plants. I had planted at least 3 seeds upside down and after 3-4 days, I corrected my mistake and the seeds happily started to grow into a plant.
(May 2021) I transferred pumpkin plants from the tray to my plot. This photograph only shows 6 plants but I had 3 additional plants in another corner of our plot.
(June 2021) Pumpkin plants are growing well and enjoying regular downpour in Oxford.
(June 2021) Strawberry plants have started to bear fruits. We received two strawberry plants from friendly owner of a neighbouring plot in 2018. These two strawberry plants quickly spread all over the plot and we had to control their spread in 2021.
(June 2021) Pumpkin plants are growing well.
(June 2021) I planted this flower just last week and it is already blooming.
(June 2021) Handful of ripened strawberries.
(June 2021) Some have ripened while some wait for their turn.
(June 2021) We harvested 2.6 Kg of strawberries on 27-June-2021.
(July 2021) We harvested two courgettes and some pumpkin plant leaves.
(August 2021) A bumper harvest of pumpkins and huge courgettes.