Monday, 24 November 2008

New plot = Aches and Pains

I ache today, under my arms - which feel like lead weights. The back of my thighs are tight and niggles every time I get up and my necks a bit stiff.

I’m not complaining; it's the feeling you get when you have done honest days toil and it serves to remind me that this allotment lark can really keep you worked out, you just need to keep working at it and then It doesn’t hurt so much when you put in a mammoth session.

I was given the oldest rustiest petrol lawnmower by another plot holder who was buying a new one. It shakes rattles and rolls but the engine - A 4 stroke brigs and Stratton is a real battler as I found out putting it through its paces. I tackled the new plot which had weeds, brambles and all sorts waist high in places. This old machine was set to its highest level and I yanked it back and forth over the growth, then raked up and lowered the settings and did it again and again until the plot turned from hippy length to us marine crew-cut.

Max and I got a controlled fire going and we threw all the debris we had collected on top. It never really got a flame but it smoked and you could have baked some nice spuds in the centre.

The stripped plot is rutted and is maybe a foot (possibly more) higher on its left hand side than on the right. It has mounds and ruts which look to me like some kind of machinery piled up earth on one side when the plots were stripped in March this year using heavy duty plant tools.

I'm not going to use chemical warfare, roundup or machinery to prepare this land. I'll dig every last inch by hand and remove all the stones and roots. It’s going to hurt a lot more but on reflection, one of my favourite bits is the preparation.

I also dug over two existing beds (leaving the Sprouting Broccoli and leeks in peace) . They got a good mucking.

Max pulled the rest of the turnips. Is it normal for a six year old to be addicted to turnips?

I dug out every last strawberry plant and runner, gave it all a good turning over, mucked it and added compost. We put membrane over the top and replanted thirty of the biggest plants into holes we made in the membrane and gave the rest away to various plot holders.

Trevor gave me half a dozen cabbages to plant. But they will have to go in next week. By the time we finished we had been there since nine in the morning and it was getting dark.

Friday, 21 November 2008

My Empire Expands.

I have been politely but persistently badgering the local council for several months in the hope of adding to my plot. Well after shed loads of calls, emails and finally a choice argument with the man who runs the show I have finally got another third/starter plot which completes a 10 rod strip.

10 rods is a pretty large area. I'd say it was the about the size of a public swimming pool. That’s about 2700 square foot or approximately 250 square metres.

The previous tenants were scumbag’s. I'm over the moon that they have been given their termination as I didn't like my kids having to see them. They would only occasionally turn up and waste no time in opening a bottle of lambrusco and several cans of lager. Shout at each other, roll around the ground a bit pulling out couch grass strand by strand, shout at their kids, open another bottle of lambrusco and several more tinnies and finally pack up the kids in their car pissed, and drive home, most likely via the off license to spend their benefits on cheap wine and craggy over strength lager. You would have had to have met them to fully appreciate the quality of scumbag I am talking about.

I felt sorry for the kids, they were both under ten and you could just see they were innocent enough but their dirty mouthed alcoholic parents were rubbing off on them - as I said poor kids.

As you can imagine the new third of my plot hasn't been cultivated and will present quite a challenge. If only I had it during the summer months I could have had a chance of doing something about it. Better late than never, now I will have a good go at it tomorrow as long as it doesn’t snow. I will be up at the crack of dawn wrapped up warm with a pot of coffee armed with an old lawn mower to cut it all down to size.

I'm going to use most if this new area for spuds next year. Borough Market in London sells heritage potatoes. Does anybody know if you can use market bought potatoes for seed? I'm aware that it’s not recommended but some of the varieties they sell are not readily available through seed suppliers and would like to give some of them a go. When should I buy them to begin the chitting process?

Better late than never.

Seems that the allotment blogger’s are going into blog slumber!

It’s been a while for me since I last updated. Darkening evenings sadly mean its night time before I even think about leaving work these days.

Throw in the rain that’s guaranteed to start on Saturday morning and end on Sunday evening and a couple of weekends where I have had to work or couldn't get over the plot because of other commitments means I haven’t really been there very much at all.

I have managed few very quick vegetable raids. We made Cous cous which required turnips and celery so Max and I picked a bunch of them. All the celery has now been eaten; I love the stuff dripping with peanut butter.

I still have some calabrese which is sprouting here and there but it’s definitely on its last legs. The Brussels sprouts are ready now, as are the leeks and there’s still a load of Swede sitting happily. The sprouting broccoli is starting to spear and the some of the leeks are big enough now although I'm a bit disappointed with the size so will look at moving them and feeding them something to fatten them up for next year.

I popped over last night in the dark to get some winter salads - I’ve been growing radicchio and some green salad variety which looks like a gem as it hearts up nicely. I forget the name but they were great when we used them as a substitute for pancakes with crispy duck, the last of my cucumbers and hoi sin sauce. I'll be having a nice prawn cocktail with more of this on Sunday. I also picked the last of my headed cabbage. It was small and my wife laughed at it because it’s not going to feed the whole family so I'm thinking coleslaw and defrost some of our sweet corns with breaded chicken, in other words home made KFC.

Weather forecasts’ suggests near zero degrees tonight. Crikey!