We talk about Muriel Jones a lot when we post on Instagram or Facebook or write articles on the website. Many people ask us who or what Muriel Jones is?
Well Muriel is the name that's been given to the allotments where we have our plot in Frome, where we grow most of our own seasonal fruit and vegetables, where we go when we want to be inspired and where I go when I want some quiet time!
Frome Town Council bought the 5 acre site in 2012 and passed responsibility for it across to the Frome Allotment Association. It was previously pasture that hadn't been cultivated for many years and runs down a gentle slope towards the river Frome in roughly a south easterly direction.
Rumour has it that the further down the slope your plot is the less decent top soil you have. We're about half way down and initially we had a few inches of top soil before we hit clay, then stone, then even heavier clay.........
We were lucky enough to get our plot a few years after the site opened. Someone had tried their hand at growing their own but gave up after a couple of years. This is what it looked like when we took it on. Look at those weeds and the length of the "grass"...... The only thing that we kept was that blue barrel you can see in the near distance!
It's one of the standard sized plots at the site measuring approximately 15m x 5m. As you can see from the photo it had already started to revert back to a wilderness when we took it on so what we did - we got the plot at the beginning of the summer - was simply lay heavy, dark sheets over those areas that we thought we'd want to use to grow fruit and vegetables.
Then we started planning.........
We knew we'd want a shed or two. We wanted them to not only provide us with some shelter and somewhere to store our tools but also to harvest rainwater. We knew we'd want to be self-sufficient regarding water. Although there was a hand pump that - when it wasn't silted up - could be used to get water from the Frome we knew that we didn't fancy using that and carrying cans of water back up that slope! We also knew that we didn't want to bring water from home.
We also knew that in front of the shed and our shelter we'd want something that at the end of a long day and when the sun was going down - and we might have a drink in our hand - we would enjoy sitting out on.
We knew that we'd want a compost bin or two and that we'd ideally want them as far away as possible from that seating area. We also decided that we wanted fruit so we decided that a 1/3rd of the plot would be dedicated to soft fruit along with a few fruit trees that we'd ensure were on a suitable, dwarfing root stock.
This was our initial, somewhat crude plan.
There are loads of photographs that we've taken over the past 5 years or so since we took Plot 47 on. You can see them on our Instagram and Facebook pages by clicking on the icons at the bottom of this page. This year though will be the year when we do justice to Muriel and Plot 47 and get the entire plot finished - as much as it ever can be - and into full production.
We know we're lucky to have it. At the moment there are over 200 local residents on the waiting list. What we do here though is something that in some way - however large or small - everyone can try in whatever space they have. Whether that's an allotment, a plot at home or even a container or growing bag.
Give it a go. From Plot to Plate.