Friday, 26 June 2009

The finest work songs...interupted

With an i pod full of happy work songs (Finest work songs fro the REM fans) I've been tripping down the the plot full of drive and enthusiasm.

Welcome to the best part of the year. Everything is growing and as I only see the plot a couple of times a week there is a massive difference to every plant every time I visit. Work done in June pays off for the whole season.

Of course ther is a lot of weeding to do. It's my least favourite thing to do. I feel like Sisyphus pushing his boulder. Everyone will tell you if in doubt... weed. Everytime you visit the plot you should do some weeding. I do and frankly it's a bit boring.

I plug in my ipod and try and get in the frame of mind to clear an area or weeds and then every five minutes some one interupts me (probably in an attempt to sherk their own weeding routine) and I end up having to stop.

I've started the slow recognition routine and it seems to work.

First, ignore the first words anyone says when you have your ipod in. That will deter the casual time theif.

Second, once they have your attention a little mock surprise always sells the first ignored sentence.

Third, fumble with the ipod and make a fuss of taking out ear phones. An overly loud "Oh Hang on" also helps especialy if delivered in a tone which says "whatever you are bothering me with had better be good".

Finally a quick "sorry about that, I was in the middle of something" should shame the current interloper into making it quick or revising the "hot enough for you" opener that you have already done so well to ignore.

I'm not a bad person (that's not strictly true) and most of the time I enjoy the gentle banter of the allotmet society members and we are very fortuante that everyone I've met at the plot is plesant and genial. Hoever look what I get done when I get some time to myself!

Not a weed in site.

Look at my lovely tomatoes I've tied them up for the second time and weeded them thoroughly.

I've also manured a part of the bed that seems not to have been covered during the winter. It all looks rather lovely. It's the poster bed for the allotment society.

I can't tell you all the scraping around on my hands and knees I did to make that look so smashing. Hand weeding! Errgh!

Monday, 8 June 2009

A very green house

It's very difficult to put into words the level of knowledge, skill and determination required to transform something that is a beaten up, abandoned wreck into something that is designed to function better than any shop bought version of itself could ever do.

Our greenhouse is a triumph of will. One Greenhouse that was on it's last legs and in danger of falling to bits in the next decent gale was renovated and then joined together with another green house (donated to us by my sadly departed Uncle Paul) the measurements of which were slightly different by a matter of only a few inches. A few very crutial few inches as it turned out. A few inches taller and wider means that every single section has to be cut down to size and fitted individually. Then it has to be glazed.

I can't begin to tell you the effort that went in to going from this

to this.

Needless to say Harry is single-handedly responsible for this transformation. I true monument to his ingenuity.

Lets see if I can do it some justice.

from a very unpromising start

The footings were dug and poured

I swear that our plot neighbours thought we were building a koi pond!Then the old greenhouse was dug up and out and kicked around and tried on for size. Nice Job!
The other green house was cut up and fitted and two courses of bricks layed to fit the two structures together to level the roof lines.
Then both structers were tied to a wooden batton bolted to the bricks.
A spot of carzy paving for the path. Hey, no one said it couldn't be groovy!

Weed membrane down.

We couldn't easily mix all the concrete to float a full concrete floor so we improvised with some slabs.

Cheers Dad

Up and running now...

Red peppers
Rather grotesque cucumbers
'Erbs man.

Like solidiers on parade

Just in case it never occurred to you, the reason we plant veggies in rows is because weeds hardly every grow in straight lines.

On allotment plots across the country transformations at this time of year, whilst common place, are still no less remarkable. I'm already measuring where we are now against this time last year.

Take a look at this....

A beautiful sunny Saturday morning in early June 2009

the following day

Here's what we started with in lateMay 2008.

I've actually had very little to do with most of the planting on the top plot this year. Due to my holiday absence I missed a lot of the planting on the top plot and much of the planting that remained was done as required not when I could get to the plot.

So I'm as interested to see these pictures as you hopefully are.

The Sweetcorn forest has been reinstated. Coryn's not as hopeful about this lot as she was about last years crop but I can tell you that all the effort put into the soil should yield magnificent results.
The tomato jungle also makes a welcome return. I'll do a tomato based post in a couple of weeks.
Money Maker, Gardener's Delight and Roma are the tree plants this year and we've got a whole load of cherry tomatoes in buckets at the side of the green house. MM & GD are standard fare in the tomato world but Roma are a little different, they are reasonably heavy cropping and as good as they are for eating they make much better sauces.

Cherry tomatoes are in buckets buy the side of the Green house. We're good for toms and if you have never had my home grown toms then you are in for a treat this summer.

Cabbages are in. Cauliflowers, broccoli, sprouts and PSB (summer version) are all in attendance this year. Great to have you back fellas.

Harry hard at planting cauliflowers that ironically he really not a fan of.
....and last but not least the mighty salad buckets are up and running. Coryn's got a leek nursery on the far bucket. Baby leeks Baby!

More to follow. I'll be back to four or five posts a month now I recon.

I've just sorted out the ghastly Java settings on my PC so with a bit of luck I'll get some pics up with out having to wrestle each one for hours on end.

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

What's eating Gilbert Grapevine? or the Grapes of Wrath

Right. Let's talk about grapes.

More accurately you can read while I moan about grapes. Well vines in particular as if you don't have a vine it's highly unlikely that you'll be able to grow grapes. Which is kind of the problem.

So here's my last vine joke. I promise.

What's brown and sticky?

A stick.

Sadly this is my stick and and it is supposed to be a grape vine.

It's June and it showing as much life now as it did in December last year. I suspect that it has died but I'm in denial. I'm in denial because I have another one on the main plot in exactly the same shape.


OK this one has the tiniest leaf shooting from somewhere so far south of the main growing stem I suspect that Harry might have stuck it there to give me hope. I'm a Spurs fan. I hate hope!

You know that could be a caterpillar. Lets take another look.

I'll take another picture on my next visit. Leaf watch. Will the excitement ever start? I smell very expensive compost in your near future young twig of mine.

Well there it is. The evidence is mounting. I'm a vine killer. A serial vine killer. One dead vine is unfortunate. Two looks like carelessness.

So the vines have me worried. These are vines that grow table grapes of course.

Who needs wine grapes these days? I can't make wine cheaper than Tescos grow it, ferment it, bottle it and ship from half a world away. That's just economy of scale you understand not exploitation.

You know what? I don't want locally grown or sourced wines.

We can't grow decent enough grapes long enough or consistently well in England. It has nothing to do with the producers who strike me as a wholly committed, industrious and slightly eccentric bunch. It's the weather.

Give me Rioja, Claret, Pino Grigio and Sancere. I want to feel sun kissed grapes flood deliciously over on my tongue, I'd rather not wince politely as I suck back something that tastes as if it has been made from unprocessed Gooseberries and nine volt batteries.

Some things are best left to the pros.