When I say that gardening changed my life, I don’t mean it lightly. Gardening has welcomed so much in my life that I didn’t know I needed. I see things so differently now. When I sow a seed, it’s not always because I like the plant; there are now other factors that come into my planting. Is it edible?


What wildlife does it help support? Does growing it bring me joy?

I started to feel the real appreciation from my allotment when I succeeded in growing my own vegetables and fruit at the allotment. I suffer from many forms of chronic pain in my body due to trauma, surgery, extreme weight loss, fibromyalgia, trigeminal neuropathy, temporomandibular

disorder and a condition called ehlers danlos syndrome. My mental health hasn’t been the greatest at all, let alone since I became disabled however, I’m really stubborn. Becoming disabled in my late 20’s, with a newborn and having been just married, made me feel worthless and unable to contribute. I needed a focus and I had no idea just how much of a

wonderful and healing release gardening would be for me. I would work for hours on my own in the evenings to clear the ground, even though at the time I was confused and in agonising pain. The solitude was surprisingly welcoming, especially when a small Robin would follow me for worms when I was working. I think this is where it really began.

Then I started to chuck things in the ground to see if they’d grow. To my luck, they did. I’ve no idea how. I brought food home to my family and it was gloriously good. A small amount but I did it. That’s what then forced my mind to learn and to care about what I was planting and when. I grew my own tomatoes that first year and became so obsessed with how homegrown tomatoes tasted and smelled, that I never buy shop tomatoes anymore! I’d much rather wait all year for my own as I’ve never tasted anything like it. I had some major surgeries to my face which means I can no longer smell or taste as well as I used to (and had lost it completely for a whole year) but I still love the smell of a tomato vine and freshly picked juicy sun ripened tomatoes as it reminds me of my mum.

I am ever so grateful and mindful about what I experience at my allotment and I really recognise how lucky I am to have it and especially during these lockdowns. It’s hard and constant work all year round which keeps me physically active and able, which in turn is excellent for my

mental and physical health. Watching the seeds you’ve sown grow into life and then to receive produce from your hard work is like winning a medal, from your garden of course. I’m a mum, wife, key worker and I’m disabled. Life doesn’t slow down when you become less able to do things – the world doesn’t change around you. I have adapted my allotment around me and it was life changing.


Watching nature visit me at the allotment because of my work, receiving produce from my little patch, teaching my son where his food comes from, having outdoor space to spend time with my friends and family, finding peace and tranquility in my surroundings and my tasks – all amazing

reasons why I found solitude and healing within that environment. An environment I’ve built with my own hands and self-taught.


There’s no greater joy.


Follow Kelly-Jane:


Twitter: @hemelallotment

Facebook: @thedirtygardenhoe