Sunday, 25 May 2008

We are at the half way stage! Woo Hoo! Yeah!

These two beds are about 25 feet wide and nearly 40 feet long. I have room for two more beds within my allotment that have yet to be cleared and dug. The next plots will be just a little shorter. I'll dig these during June. First I have to find something to extinguish my shoulders as, at the time of writing, they feel as if they are on fire!

The herb patch has taken shape. I moved a "Hippo Bag" full of rubbish out from this corner. I built another compost heap. Then I dug out all of the grass and weeds and moved in the perennial herbs. I'll sow the remaining seeds on Monday and plant the herbs that are currently in pots.

Enough! Bed!

Sisyphus digging

I feel like that poor fella that had to push a giant boulder up a mountain everyday. Still, it could have been worse, I could have been chained to that same boulder and had birds peck out my liver everyday. Some times you have to have a positive mental attitude. Prometheus would have given his right arm for the boulder pushing gig. Even though that would have made it very difficult indeed.

Instructions for digging like a machine all day:
  • Prepare yourself mentally.
  • Set up an ipod playlist with songs that make you happy.
  • Find your spade.
  • Find your sun cream.
  • Find your Dad. (He's helping)
  • Make sure you have plenty of fluids to drink.
  • Dig for a while. Stop. Drink. Repeat.

Digging with me today were:
  • The Libertines - Up the bracket
  • Elvis Costello - Armed Forces
  • Jackson Browne - Live Acoustic Vol1
  • Rolling Stones - Exile on Main Street
Whilst digging and singing along. I'll admit to the occasional "spade guitar" riff ( Oh come on, you would too.) I made mental plans for the herb patch, the greenhouse and a lasting peace in the Middle East. I'm joking. That greenhouse has still got me scratching my head.

I also invented snail baseball (home run derby version) and slug skating. Hey, I was bound to go a little bit nuts!

Pictures on next blog.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

What's the difference between a good farmer and a bad farmer? About a week.

I'm looking around at other allotments already lush and green and rebounding from the ghastly weather that kept many from their plots in the early weeks of Spring 2008. I feel like the new kid at school. I think I'll never catch up or be like the other kids who know how everything works.

To torture an innocent metaphor further... The problem is I've started too late in the term. I have nothing prepared other than what my Mum and Dad have kindly donated to fill the vast gaps in my soil (and knowledge). I've done plenty of reading during the holidays but I've done no prep and my course work is not started.

Example:I have to plant my winter veg now. I thought winter veg grew in the winter. Kind of make sense. Right?

Nope. Winter veg do all their real growing in summer in order to survive the winter. Genius! That's nothing like the name suggests.

I was also disappointed to discover that mincemeat contains no meat and is not even minced! Please let's not get me started on Welsh rarebit.

Obviously this one has been skinned and boned. You can get your butcher to do it for you if you're a bit squeamish!

The big dig continues...

Monday, 19 May 2008

Plant something, or spend your life hoeing dirt.

It's alive! Alive! Aaaaaaa Hahahahahahah!
Three blogs in and finally I have something planted. I decided that if I just dug over the site and did not at least plant something as I go, then I would spend all my time hoeing dirt. Where's the fun in that?

  • Four lines of rocket leaves
  • 45 Swiss chard seedlings (colourful cabbage-like leaves that crop nearly year round)
  • 18 Tomato plants (different types) Planted with flowers to attract Hover flies. Hover flies feed on the bugs that are attracted to the tomatoes. Genius!
  • One of the compost heaps is being used for butternut squash and courgettes/zuccini.
Cry God for Harry England and St George!

One half of my allotment guru team. My Dad Harry. He knows when to dig, and when to go home.

People point and laugh at my greenhouse. I sometimes join in.

After me. Raise your hand in the direction of the green house. Extend your index finger. Chuckle. Go on, get it off your chest.

I don't know Dad, it could be a triffid. What does Allen Titchmarsh have to say?

Allen says it's a Poppy. Oh well.

Saturday morning spider club

  • I spent this morning pottering around. After spending time digging after work during the week I thought I'd concentrate on a job that requires less brute strength. So I cleaned out the shed.

    I was alarmed to see the vast array of spiders running in terror from my trusty broom. I won't lie, there were casualties. This one caused just a medium level freak out, so I let him live. This bad boy is about an inch across and then it has legs attached. Gghrrhrr Nasty!

Throughly cleaned and largely spider free, for now, I installed the key items that make a shed usable.

  • Gas Burner (not shown)
  • Kettle
  • Tea
  • Milk
  • Sugar

All sealed in spider proof tubs. I'm good to go!

It is suposed that the British Army are able to survive longer and travel further than any other army in the world because of their inate ability to make hot water for tea anywhere in the world. It's a British thing. It's very comforting.

Progress picture:The big dig continues....

Friday, 16 May 2008

In the beginning there was nothing...

and then God said Let there be WEEDS!

I've finally inherited a plot of land. I assume that the land is under all these weeds.

I'm not kidding, and this isn't funny. This fine plot has been sitting untouched since November 2007 last year, and the very minute the grass and weeds reached three feet high the Allotment Association asked me if I wanted it.

There are some up sides. My Allotment is huge. It has an ample shed and a green house and three compost heaps. So far this is what I have discovered.

The shed is appears to be some type of spider farm and I have sieves at home that are more watertight.

A bug bomb or two and a the liberal application of roofing felt is needed before I can even call this a shelter. We're a long way from shed.

I have at least one fox that visits under the floors of the shed which has seriously (and in this case literally) undermined the floor structure of the south facing side of the shed. This could be problematic. Foxes are timid, flighty creatures but I imagine that destroying their home will make them a bit less timid and a bit more bitey. I'll keep you updated on my progress with this challenge.

The green house has no door and no glass at all. The previous owner decided against flooring the greenhouse so now the grass that covers the floor is nearly three feet high. Compared to the Shed the greenhouse is a simple problem:

  • A bit of time.
  • A bit of money.
  • Quite a bit of glass.
  • A bit of building a new aluminium sliding door.

What could possibly go wrong?

Compost heap you say? That's not a compost heap. That's a rubbish heap that looks like it might once have had dreams of being compost heap. If I dig that lot back into my soil the environmental health people will be all over me like a bad rash. Which, indecently, is exactly what I'll get if I keep touching the wretched compost heap. I suspect that this problem can only truly be solved with a dark night and some matches!

So for now I keep digging. I'll break it up in to manageable chunks the way all human beings faced with a daunting task are want to do. I'll keep my back to the vast expanse of low-level rainforest. Hopefully I won't become lunch for the unknown horrors lurking in the weeds and by the end of this weekend I'll have the first third done. Then I'll break it up again....