Saturday, 1 March 2008

honkjazz - The Allotment! Part 8

Saturday 22nd February, 2008
This weekend I was joined by two guests, the ever industrious Kazoo and a little pup dog called Ruby. I wasn't really expecting too much work to be done as she has a very limited attention span and is quite mischievous, constantly chewing things, investigating everything, scrounging for food and generally making trouble.
And Ruby can be quite a handful as well.
(hold pose, wait for laugh)
Anyway, I left Haycorn to sleep and took Ruby to the plot where she proceeded to bark at people, dogs, planes, cars, trees, clouds, birds, the wind, rocks, grass, bugs, the sky and everything else, like ever. Here she is having fun as pups will do.

Whilst little dog played I set about finishing off the weeding on the first bed. Every single turn of the fork revealed more and more couch grass. But I have finally accepted that the battle against weeds is a constant one and should not get you down. We'll never hoik them all out so we just have to do what we can now and keep at them in the future. And this need to eradicate every single pest is surely a bit silly. Crops will grow whether there's a few weeds lurking about or not. We've certainly given the vegetables a good start. The dumpy bag full of roots is testament to that. Constant weeding will win out in the end.
I think.

Sniplet joined us in the afternoon and brought sandwiches and drinks before getting stuck in to some graft. Here she is working really hard (on rolling that cigarette).

The weather is treating us well. Apart from a brief spell of showers (which sends several other gardeners scuttling off home, much to my disgruntlement) it's nice and breezy with the odd patch of sunshine. Perfect to blow away the cobwebs. The soil isn't as heavy as I'd first thought and breaks up easily under the fork making the weeding quite easy really. The first bed is soon finished so we move onto the second one that Gavbot started a couple of weeks ago and we've soon filled many a wheelbarrow with evil roots.

It feels great to be getting stuck in like this, slowly shaping the plot, taking our time and planning ahead. I seem to have overcome the initial frenzy of excitement and become a lot more relaxed about things. Take the shed malarky for example. As soon as I saw a couple of them pop up on Freecycle I was desperate to get hold of them and mortified when we failed. Now though, I'm quite happy to bide some time, get the base completely sorted and be patient. We'll get our shed eventually. We'll get our shed when the allotment wants us to. We just have to wait for the right sign. And yes, I have been watching too much 'Lost' recently. I guess I mean that it'll happen when it's good and ready. And that's what gardening is all about isn't it? Relaxing, enjoying the pace of life and taking satisfaction from working the land. And Herbert has a very peaceful yet practical attitude towards these things. He's a really good anchor in this project, constantly seeing things in a clearer light than I, bringing me down to earth and speaking sense. Like Jeff and Larry, Morecambe and Wise, Terry and June, Angie and Den and any other number of duos that comprise of a straight man and a frantic, bumbling idiot (who is more handsome and gets all the best lines), we compliment each other. I predict great things for this partnership. Or a violent struggle ending in a supermarket fire, a fake funeral and a new life under the witness protection act. Whatever. Oh and by the way, that Angie and Den montage blew my mind on so many levels when I first watched it. Just wow!
So this new found calmness is only heightening the experience for me. I can't be doing with racing around, getting stressed about stuff. I'll try to retain a little bit of frantic, bumbling idiocy though. I mean, who wants to see a world with Jeff and Jeff, Wise and Wise, June and June, etc. And the relaxed attitude can be applied to growing things as well. As Herb said the other day, if we even manage to grow one spud this year we can be happy. For two chaps with no prior experience we should be really chuffed with the progress we've made. And I imagine we are.

The day finished with an unsuccessful fire and we headed into the countryside for a good stomp before visiting a few pubs to congratulate ourselves on the work done.

And what a merry time was had by all.

Sunday, 23rd February, 2008
I left Grubling to sleep off the previous nights ale (anyone spotting a theme here?) and headed off with Ruby The Naughty Pup. Our plot neighbor John gave us two lovely radishes, a Black Spanish and a Rat's Tail. The Black Spanish was a bit bigger than a cricket ball! I'm not sure if I like radishes but it certainly had a peppery kick and a really strong aftertaste. There it is in my kitchen. You can gauge the size by comparing it to the lemon in the dish behind it.

Whilst we're on the subject of enormous vegetable based gifts (a sentence you don't get to say often enough), my father's newly discovered cousin Geoff had given dad a present in the form of a parsnip that he'd grown in his garden. I'd be quite keen to ask our Geoff exactly what type of manure he's using to produce things like this!

And no, it's not a tiny, little hammer.

So whilst I toiled away Grublet transformed this monstrous root into a wonderful spicy parsnip soup. Which turned out to be a delicious and hearty meal. It also got me all excited about cooking food using produce that hasn't come from a supermarket shelf. Which is nice.
I finished off the first bed by staking in a timber border and spreading a mulch of well rotted horse muck. This made me so happy - finally we have a space that can be used to grow food. Such a small step but a really important one in terms of confidence. And I think it looks quite sweet. As Herbert will later state, it doesn't look like it's been built by an expert. Funny that. But really, it's just the kind of approach we both love. In his own words, "it reflects the people who've built it - a bit knackered and scruffy but full of charm and good intent" (and sh*t. Zing! You can keep that one, H). It will eventually be home to some wonderful potatoes.

Once she'd finished cooking Dink wandered up to the plot and set about a great bunch of tasks. The soil in the second Belfast sink was weeded and revealed three more raspberry canes which she planted alongside the other six. The chives/spring onions/we're-not-really-quite-sure-what-the-hell-they-are from dad's plot were then put into that sink. Three gooseberry cuttings were planted at the back of bed number 1 and everything got a good watering, garlic and all.
And that was the weekend done. I'm really pleased with the progress. I'll take some pictures of the completed bed and post them next time so you can see why.
And we'll finish with a view from our little island. And this makes me happy as well.