Allotment: Hilton’s vegetable plot is Suffolk’s answer to the Eden Project

WELL, I thought, as I reclined in a deckchair under the receding early evening heat, this really is more like it, writes Georgina Wroe.

Previously I’d been on the verge of throwing the towel in.

Launching my career as vegetable gardener in the wettest month since the ark was on a par with graduating from Kabul University with a degree in women’s studies at the start of the Taliban regime.

In the last six weeks I’d been visited by hailstones the size of Jersey Royals, rained on and faced an Arctic north wind that would have stopped Ranulph Fiennes in his tracks.

I’d seen all my baby seedlings wither and die, and the allotment looked more like a municipal dump than a verdant growing space.


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No longer.

“I hear you’ve opened up a bar,” said one of the not-so-old boys from next door. (Nothing you do on an allotment ever goes unnoticed.)

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With my impromptu water butt brimming with grog, I couldn’t deny it.

Because, while I lack a great deal of gardening prowess, when it comes to the serving and enjoyment of alcohol I am second to none.

I am aware that the first crop of the year, whether it’s spuds, courgettes or carrots, is celebrated with glee.

No less the joy when we discovered enough just-alive mint to make a couple of jugs of mojitos.

Mojito is the national drink of Cuba and comprises of five ingredients: rum, mint, lime, sugar and soda.

The key to a good mojito is to really muddle the sugar and the mint to bring out the flavour.

For want of a cocktail spoon, I used the spiky prong (for getting things out of horses’ feet) on my penknife.

After one glass I was happy to resume hoeing, after two I started to think I could actually prune the apple tree.

Just in case you’re wondering if I will ever share any actual gardening advice, the following comes courtesy of Hilton, whose allotment backs onto ours.

Hilton knows everything there is to know about vegetable gardening.

His allotment is more Eden Project than vegetable plot.

Look hard enough and you’ll find a ticket office and French camera crew.

I am in awe of Hilton.

Hilton says: “Don’t waste your money buying lettuce seedlings; buy a tray of cut-and-come-again leaves from the supermarket. They grow up lovely.”

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