Friday, 30 January 2009


A close friends partner has given me 15 tubers of the Maris Bard first eary potato. Thanks a lot.
I was going to grow a couple of varieties of lovely new potatos this year so I'll only need to look for one other other when I visit the Suffolk and Essex seed fair in a couple of weeks time.

My wife Steph thinks I'm joking when I told her we are going the potato fair on the 14th February. I'll post some pictures of that romantic date later on next month.

She dosn't really enjoy working in the garden, but prefer's me gardening to gargling beer down the booza and she happily tucked into pretty much all the veg I came home with last year. I'll slowly work on her gardening phobia. Hopefully, she'll evolve into the keen assistant to me, head gardener by the time that I retire in twenty five years or so.

I'm blinking rambling again -

No I never ever ever do a thing about the weather, because the weather never ever does a thing for me.

Being English, I have a mild obsession with the weather. Have to say that I'm at odds as to what we can expect here for the next ten days.

On the weather front. One update, you are looking at two weeks of sunshine and cold but wind free days. (My favourite digging conditions) then on the very next forecast it changed to snow starting on Sunday which will drag and continue into the end of next week.

So you cross check this with the internet sites such as, the BBC and to find that between them it says it might be sunny, or it could rain, or we may have snow, or just overcast with some fog. We have French television in our house so I also watch the Tv1's "Meteo" to gauge the weather in Calais, which is often more accurate than the UK forecasts for some reason.

Saturday seems to be the best shot for some decent digging weather. The rest of the week will be a rainy, sunny, snowy, foggy, dry, damp, windy, calm, bitter, mild one.

So wrap up warm, don’t forget the sun cream for the sunny bits, Chap Stick for the snowy/frosty bits and a torch to find your way home in the fog. Incredible!

Tuesday, 20 January 2009

Garden life - The elevator pitch

Go figure? Last week my wife agreed that I could get a small, inexpensive polycarbonate green house for the garden, I was more excited when it arrived by courier the next day than when we took home a brand new BMW from the showroom a couple of years ago. That’s pretty weird by any accounts isn’t it? So I am asking myself the question why an aluminium frame with cheap plastic windows could do that?

I mean in my teenage years what I wanted changed every five minutes. Gardening was a chore you did to tap your parents up for some cash to go out somewhere. Gardens were for playing football, sneaky cigarettes and putting tents up in.

In my twenties I wanted a career path, to get on the housing ladder and to drive a nice car – the sort I bought would have been beyond my wildest dreams. Gardens were still a chore but you could enjoy social barbeques and the nice old couple would pop their heads over the fence and hand over a paper bag of home grown tomatoes and runner beans - Half went in the bin, not appreciating the care and attention that old Mr "whats-hisname" provided his plants to be able to give them to me.

In my thirties I have slowly woken up to the fact that I will not be a famous sports-star or the next Richard Branson - Infact I am pretty crap at most sports and I'd rather eat a dog shit sandwich than go to the gym.

I don’t know what made me apply for a plot, it just happened, I picked up the phone without really reading "The new Hype" or watching the endless celebrity chef's and household favourite gardeners programs - it just happened. It just so happened to be the best thing I did last year.

A lot of people won’t understand, fair enough, each to their own. In my pursuit of happiness I have found something that I am pretty good at, is dirt cheap (sorry), and allows me to spend quality time with my boys without the distractions of modern technology.

It's much healthier than watching somebody else do it on the idiot box, I'm fitter than I have been in ages without stepping into a gym or pounding a treadmill, and have experienced my first harvests - some good, others not so good. But the experience has been a wholly enjoyable one.

Maybe I'm just getting too much fresh air these days. Note to me: Stop ebaying gardening products.

Or Maybe when Barrack Obama takes over the Western world, it seems fitting that the most famous phrase from the United States Declaration of Independence rings true to me today . "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness ".

- Now thats possibly what its all about, I could have picked up the fishing bug, or Golf, or bowling or hunting with rifles but this hobby clicked first and it makes me happy. Cars to me are things you use to get from A to B in. (And loading up the boot with well rotted Horse muck).

Monday, 19 January 2009

Mid January Plot Progress

My new starter plot is slowly beginning to resemble a pile of dirt, which is exactly what I want it to look like, ready for the mass of spud planting I plan for March/April.

There are so many brambles on this new plot! I am having to alternate my digging styles to slowly clear the plot of this evil perennial weed and its good friends, the equally undesirable bell-bind and couch-grass.

I now remember exactly why I wasn't too fussed that I gave this third back to the Council when they said they had an oversubscribed waiting list. The oddball couple who took it over gave up without so much as clearing a metre but they did leave me several dozen empty cans of lager and wine to dispose of - bless them. So I decided to take it back on when their tenancy was terminated.

The rest of the plot is dug over composted/mucked/limed as and where it was needed, so I am ready of sorts for springs planting bonanza.

The new bit is around ten by ten yards. So far I have filled fifteen or more wheel barrows of the dreaded bramble roots, couch grass and bind weed roots and hidden them along an unused and overgrown border of the site, but that's only a third of my plot done. I have put some back breaking efforts in an attempt to level out this third. The bottom corner was sunken and the top part of it raised, so that by just walking the ten yards width the low point was half a yard lower than the highest point. Its still not flat by any means, but its a lot better. There's only so much topsoil you can move from the top end other wise my plot would level out at the point of the subsoil.

I have dug my fork in deep and turned the the middle thirds topsoil upside-down, removing some of the roots but not concentrating on this too much. I'm hoping that when I start re-digging this third that it will be much easier to separate the topsoil from the roots, so as to avoid removing too much precious soil as they are removed. Its seemed easier on a little bit I tested on Saturday.

Just like when I began last may, it looked like an impossible task. But every time I manage to get my trusty fork out I make a little dent, on Saturday I got the impression that progress was finally being made.

Friday, 9 January 2009

New years reading tragedy

this year my parents bought me this book for Christmas.
I was really enjoying reading it on the way to and from work. Then on Wednesday evening as I was getting off the train at Leigh, it slipped out of my hands and fell down the gap and landed (opened) on the track. I watched in horror as the train began to move slowly. It thudded every couple of seconds as the wheels and several hundred tonnes of steel and passenger ran it over, then again, and again twenty or so more times until finally the train cleared the platform.

I jumped down and retrieved my gift. It was split in half and the pages on the second half of the book looked as though it had been passed through a shredder so I had to chuck it in the bin.

I was gutted. Will have to pop down to Waterstones and pick up another.