Archive for January, 2009

for those of you who don’t know the folk wisdom, it goes that you put your earlies on Good Friday.  Now being a first year allotmonaut, I didn’t know this and bounced into the local Gardening Club, a gathering of sages who preside over a Shed Full of Things.  Could I get some seed potatoes?

I was looked at more in pity than anger.  No.  Said seed potatoes were sitting under that there pile of plastic turf.  He pointed to an electric green hillock in the corner.  They were somethinging (a local verb I didn’t get) under there.  I was to go away, possess my impetuous soul in patience and come back in a fortnight’s time.  Not a week.  A fortnight. Now bugger off and do more winter digging.  There is more frost due this weekend, and the prudent young allotment gardener will finish off scuttin’ his plot and let the frost get to the rough-dug earth and kill off the weeds.

That’s me told.

And these guys are NOT organic.  The walls of the gardening club are just wallpapered with shelves of chemicals for killing all kinds of everything.   Many, I suspect, only now legal in poor and ill-governed for Soviet states.  Got home and had a shower.


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Seed potatoes

are in at the local hardware shop.  They will be sprouting in a dark cupboard here before the week is out.  New potatoes, boiled with butter, a sprinking of salt and a few chopped chives are what separates us from the beasts.

If you buy new potatoes from the grocers, don’t believe the marketing hype about Jersey Royals.  Pembrokeshire earlies kick their butts.  The soil at no 16 seems to be good for spuds: last year’s chuck-in-and-see spuds did really well.

Lack of posting has been because of lack of work: a few days rain and the ground is sodden and unworkable, I tried it and ended up with 10kg of clay soil on each rigger boot.  We’ll go and have a look again tomorrow.

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Garden Organic has the jobs list just in case you’re not feeling guilty enough already….

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Oh the shame of it….

mankyThat’s all we have to show for two packets of onion seed.  Five manky little objects of little use or ornament.  Either:

1. The long-neglected soil is no good for onions
2. I am an idiot
3. Both of the above.

I asked Reg the tight lipped allotment sage how he managed to grow such good onions, he said (as he does to any enquiry) that he didn’t know and that he was disappointed with his onions.  Reg came 4th in the produce section of a local village show.  The onion he entered was?  4lb 7oz.

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Killer compost…

the convent that supplies my peelings (which I dig into the soil and pour into compost bins with an obsession that verges on the manic) has had a health and safety consultant in the kitchen.  Five hours at £100 an hour to you, sisters.

The peelings were put into plastic boxes with snap-on lids and stored in a room next to the kitchen, away from food preparation.  Not good enough, the elf and safety wonk said, even though no death, injuries or insanity had been caused by this practise.  They have to buy a galavanized bin with a lid, line it with plastic bags and keep it outside.

Grrrrrrrrrrrrr.  Gnash.  Rend.

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Compost trenching….

The death-march towards soil quality carries on….below, turves scutted off, piled in barrow ready to be added to the great scut pyramid (Manchester United vs. Southampton, FA cup 3rd round on the no 16 radio)…


That done, I dig a foot down, intending to toss a mixture of veg peelings, leaves and manure in the bottom and here, dear readers is what comes out.  Clay.  Look at it.  I am told a couple of years of cultivation and all will be well.clay

In the meantime my spine is requesting a free transfer to a new owner, who will be kinder.

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one of my in-the-future hopes is to have a hive on the allotment.  I have long wanted bees because they are fascinating creatures, great pollinators and (like Pooh Bear) I like hunny.  And they’re in crisis.  This post from a local(ish) councillor highlights the problem:

In my shop I now have only one local supplier of honey, from Staindrop. I can sell every jar I get from him. I used to have five local suppliers. The other four have given up the struggle. Customers love local honey. It has a flavour unique to the area in which it is produced. It is unadulterated and as pure as can be. Unlike some of the massive industries in countries like China and Mexico, British honey is not pasteurised, heat-treated or fortified with extra sugar. British honey incurs minimal environmental cost and is a classic “local food”.

But the decline of the honeybee affects much more than just the production of honey. About one third of all home grown food relies of the honeybee for pollination, in particular apples, pears, blackberries, raspberries, broccoli, carrots and onions. More than 50% of wild plants on which birds and mammals depend is pollinated by the honeybee.
I have canvassed the idea of bees @ no 16 with a couple of the surrounding allotmonauts and have been met with raised eyebrows, shaken heads and muttering “wey I dean’t nah…”.  Some bee PR is needed.

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