Once the legalities of the contracts and payments were completed, every spare evening and weekend was spent at the allotment. The first task was to clear the plot of all the debris of old carpets and rubbish. Taking advantage of an Indian summer; pausing only occasionally to surreptitiously sample a few luscious raspberries plucked from the canes leaning temptingly over the fence from the neighbouring plot, the surface rubbish was gathered up and disposed of via many wheelbarrow trips to the skip.
The removal of old carpet was more labour intensive than at first realised. Put down many years ago for the purpose of suppressing weeds, the carpets had been overpowered by both air-born annual weeds on top and thugs of weeds growing with vicious propensity through the carpet from underneath, thus welding it in a vice-like grip to the soil. An unwelcome discovery was made once the carpet had been prised from its captors.
An alien-like organism (bearing a vague resemblance to asparagus) was exposed growing prolifically throughout the plot. This turned out to be none other than Horsetail. Unchecked on the allotment for years, this weed - with roots that can grow over seven feet below ground and that will reproduce not just by spores, but with only a fragment of the parent plant breaking is virtually impossible to eradicate.
Undaunted (perhaps rather naively) by the virulent horsetail, some serious back breaking digging was required before railway sleepers and scaffolding planks were installed to make beds terraced down the sloping plot.
A picket fence was erected to replace the broken one.
A young Bramley Apple tree was the first to be planted in the freshly dug soil.
Then, as the digging continued and more beds were established down the plot, rhubarb, raspberry canes (soon there would be no need to sample the forbidden fruit from next doors plot!) and a Coxs pippin Apple tree were also added.
The allotment was taking starting to take shape!