Friday, 25 April 2008

SpudStep Arrives at the Honkjazz Allotment

Ah tis true, the weather has been playing cruel tricks on the fortunes of the allotment of late. But progress has been steady and lead in the right direction by Brazil (herb - doffs cap).
On a more positive note the kestrel variety of potato has gone into the ground as our 2nd earlie crop. The technical aspect which has been mentioned was applied via the spacing of 10cm between each one. I would like to say this was done by space age measuring techniques but alas it was the power of sight and instinct that won through. This is in no small part down to the fact that the majority of friendly advice that has been given seems to sway toward "put it in the ground and see what happens" but you must remember "regular visits" "close attention" and "if you're not growing whats the point" has enabled me to reach a balance, hence the fact that the seeds were not just thrown on the ground.

So - Kestrel Potatoes are in the ground and beginning the long and winding road towards the dinner plate (we hope)
SpudStep has arrived........

And then there are the onions. Sturon is the variety and they have been lovingly placed with just the tops showing........ I've been reliably informed that this type of onion is a good all rounder and hardy to boot which is great considering this is the first attempt at growing onions or for that matter anything.
Progress is therefore apace despite the efforts of the british weather, although it may not be visible there are things a growing in that there ground...... We'll keep you posted as the seeds meet the ground.

To change topic it is heartwarming to see the local wildlife taking an interest in goings on and i welcome Fat Rob to the proceedings. We can only hope that he and his bird friends are avid allotmenteers and will get into the spirit by lending a wing here and there to the effort.

Back on the veg and the maincrop has been decided upon (drum roll please) it's....... Kind Edward!!
They will go in the ground in the next few weeks.
But thats enough for now.

Also if you fancy some music check out the links to the left and right. I particularly recommend the homecooked tunes (top left)
Otherwise there's shed (couldn't resist) loads of other musically Allotmenty stuff for you and yours........

Thursday, 24 April 2008

Honkjazz Suffers A Lack Of News (unless you're really into musical theatre)

Now I know how they feel on Sky News when there really is frack-all going on. The weather has been so poor down here that practically nothing has been done on the plot for weeks now. It seems as though the elements have something of a rude-boy sense of humor. The weekdays have been glorious. Looking out of the office window at clear blue skies, blasting sunshine and people wandering around without a care in the world.
And the weekends?

We did get up the allotment a couple of weeks ago, during a rare moment of NOT COLD RAIN and managed to plant some potatoes and some onions. I'll let Herb explain exactly what varieties of vegetable we planted because I can't remember. Deal with it.
So Herbert planted them vegetables.
In the ground. It was a proud, proud moment.
The team is sound. We work well.
See? Like Cagney & Lacey, Statler & Waldorf, Touche & Dum Dum.
I would post the pictures of H popping the FIRST THINGS EVER into the ground that aren't the raspberry canes or the gooseberry cuttings but I'm not allowed for legal reasons. And no, that isn't a poor attempt to hide my pitiful photographic skills. I'd never hide my pitiful photographic skills. I know how much y'all love them!


The boy done good. And now the science part is his. I'm just the schlepper. Herbert is the real brains. And remember, go and listen to/download/dance to his mad mixes.

So last weekend was in my sights. Oh yeah. We'd already filled up three of the finished plots and still had a whole bag of Something Or Other potatoes left to plant so I needed to get my skates on. And Saturday it rained all day long so that was another one lost.
When I woke up on Sunday it was good. I decided to beat the weather and start early. At 1pm (hee) I started to dig the SuperStrong weeds that had appeared in the perfectly weeded plots. Yeah, thanks for that Mother Nature.
Anyway, I had to get stuck into the last bit of plot 4 because Herb has got the seeds ready and time won't hang around but I wasn't feeling too good to be honest. The day before had been so rainy and dreary that I actually got out of bed at 10am, put on my dressing gown and didn't take it off FOR THE ENTIRE DAY AND NIGHT. And it was totally awesome. Seriously, I spent about 16 hours in a dressing gown and felt great about it.
I planted my fork into the ground and felt a wave of lethargy flood over me. I turned the earth over (just about) and was ready to give in if I'm being honest with you. I just had no energy or passion for the whole thing.
As I looked at the newly broken clump of earth I contemplated going back to bed. Bed. Warm bed. Duvet. Bed. Warm. Rest. Bed.
And then.............

He'd popped along to see if he could have some fresh worms. To my utter amazement he sat on my boot. It was a really beautiful moment. A Red Robin sat on my shoe. He (might be a she) looked up at me and I gave him the nod so he helped himself to a few worms and bugs. When I took this photograph on my phone Rob (as I call him/her/it) was about 2 ft away from me. He hopped around plot number 4 for a bit, completely oblivious to me before fluttering off to feed his/her kids/birdies/whatever. All of a sudden I felt the energy. I mean it folks, I felt the buzz. Suddenly I was ready for action, full of beans, nothing could stop this digging machine! My mission was clear! I had to plow on! Had to meld with the earth, with nature, with the elements. Complete my task. I had to work.
So a cup of tea and a sandwich later I was ready to go.
(like you didn't see that one coming huh?)
I started digging bed 4 again.
And, oh, hello.......

Fat Rob's back.
And again, he just hops around the plot,
flitting in between my feet, looking up at me, sadly not mistaking couch grass roots for worms (they do look very similar) and generally making me feel brilliant.
So I dug.
And dug.
And dug.

Slowly. For some reason I couldn't get a proper head of steam up but it was cool and I felt great. There were dark gray clouds on the horizon anyway so I figured I didn't have long left.

Rob came back to visit about five times in all. Each time he reappeared I'd grab my phone/camera and plant my left boot down on the freshly turned soil hoping that he'd decide to hop on again. It really was the best thing ever and I desperately wanted him to do it again. But it wasn't to be repeated.
So the 4th time Rob flew down to fetch food for the kids (like it's some avian farmer's market - plot 34 for worms, plot 11 for berries, etc) I pleaded with him. He turned his little beaky snout-beak-thing up to me and started to whistle a cheery melody.
I joined in, harmonizing beautifully and exchanging knowing and totally innocent glances at key points in the song. Looking down I saw a little, wild rabbit at my feet, he joined in on the chorus. Then a beautiful fawn bounced along and added falsetto.
Together we picked out the weeds, turned over the soil and emptied the wheelbarrow as we sang. A little dance here and there. Sh*t got done. And all to a merry, hummable and sprightly tune!
It was a great Disney moment and if Audrey Hepburn had popped up and started singing along I wouldn't have been surprised in the slightest bit. I also wouldn't have told Herbert because he'd have broken my neck in a jealous fury. I can't believe that my camera malfunctioned at that exact moment or I'd surely have recorded the event just for you.
This is the last shot I took.

Talking of Herb, he called whilst I was taking this shot. Amazingly the awful and very loud operatic ring-tone didn't bother Fat Rob at all. So Herbert asked me how long I'd be on the plot for. I looked at the slowly approaching rain-clouds in the distance. My eyes narrowed slightly as I looked at the sky around me. I took in a good lungful of air, tasting the earth and the wind, knowing what was coming and what had been. I assumed my best John-Locke-out-of-Lost-about-to-say-something-mystical-or-predict-the-weather-to-within-30-seconds look and said, "There is one hour before the rain."
The call finished. I planted my fork into the earth.
And straight away it started to rain. John Locke my ass.
Again. Like you didn't see that one coming.
So the rain sent me home. And that's that. Hopefully I'll be there this weekend, trying to work off a terrible cold. But I'll probably be in bed suffering too much. Bound to bed and sofa, looking out of the window.
While outside the sun shines........

Monday, 7 April 2008

honkjazz - The Allotment! - Part 10

Saturday 5th April, 2008
(this bit has the alternative title of...)

Two Slabs Short Of A Shed
(Is how my nan probably refers to my dad)

As you can see here we're finally (nearly) ready to take delivery of a garden shed. When we find one. Damnit man, we had one so close as well. Gazumped again. Still, the effort spent schlepping these paving slabs (plus a few extra that went to my bosses garden) from the far end of Harry & Sue's orchard, all the way up the hill to the gate, was well worth it. Although I did think that my time had finally come. Like, really, I thought my arms were going tear off before I keeled over and karked it right there in the middle of the field. Anyway, thanks Harry & Sue, you are stars.

So that was Saturday morning done. After getting to the plot and laying the slabs, as above, I did some very gentle and relaxing weeding (it's not like I couldn't actually move my arms enough to even lift a cup of tea or anything. Sorry for going on about this but really, have you ever lifted a paving slab before? I refuse to believe that in the world of modern scientific miracle that we live in, where army generals can pop a missile down someone's chimney pipe from 8000 miles away, where only last week human/animal embryos were produced or something, where the crazy Japanese can make little rugby ball-shaped robots spin around and change shape in time to Justin Timberlake songs - no, I did not dream it - that they cannot make a paving slab that DOES NOT WEIGH MORE THAN I DO!). Actually, this was a bit more mellow than the weeding I did last weekend. Then I was grappling with dock roots of enormous magnitude. One of the buggers was so terrifying and evil that upon wrestling it out of the ground it grabbed the shears, chopped my hand off and said, "Brazil I am your father." - and that totally happened.

(note: If any Sci-Fi geeks are thinking of writing a spluttery e-mail to us correcting my Empire Strikes Back misquote don't bother. I KNOW that Darth Vader doesn't actually say that. I KNOW that the actual line is "No, I am your father, Luke".
Shut up Sci-Fi geeks.
You'll never kiss a girl ever!)

Executive decision made: No More Horse Sh*t. And that's not me getting all cowboy on you. The amount of weeds (all of them) that were sprouting out of the top of the horse manure on plot 1 was stupid. I started off diligently pulling each shoot out by gently crumbling the soil/manure around it and teasing the offending sprout out but soon exhaustion wore
my patience thin and I just smashed up the top layer of earth therefore hiding all of the weeds! Job well done I thought (they were too small to get out anyway, we'll wait until they're a bit bigger).

It's a frog.
Banging a drum.
Totally makes sense.
It doesn't have a name yet so if you can think of anything better than Devillion or Frog then please let us know. I spotted him on my bosses rubbish heap and thought he'd look great on the plot. He just looks smug. All like, "I could have told you not to use horse manure - far, far too many weeds in horse manure. Everyone knows that. You want cow manure, that's what you want, not horse manure."
Shut up frog.

After all of that I set about finishing bed number 3. It's on an awful slope so I thought I'd utilize some of the old shelving that had ended up on our timber pile to kill a few birds with. I wasn't actually killing birds with big bits of wood. But then you knew that right?
By sinking the shelves into the ground it means that the pesky weeds can't can't grow into the plot and also that the gradient of the slope is greatly reduced. I guess it's like an accidental raised bed. Whatever. That's a dumb argument that I can't be bothered to get invol
ved with. I got enough on my plate trying to swat those stupid birds.
After that I chucked a load of pig manure in to spicy up the dance and the finished bed looks like this.

Which is nice.

Umm, that was about it for Saturday. Had a bit of a tidy up (enforcing the honkjazz ethos of "always leave the site looking better than when you first arrived") and scowled at the frog. I think I took some more pictures of stuff but it they were generally awful. Whatever.

Sunday 6th April, 2008
Managed to get to the site for a few hours before the kerazy weather decided to mess wit bizness. Started work on bed number 4. I really have to get a move on with these beds as Herb has got the seeds ready and reckons that they can all be sown straight into the ground starting ................................................................................................. ....................................................................................................................................................................
So it's all exciting and that but we've only got three beds finished out of eight. Gulp. We'll be fine. Here are some photographs of stuff growing and sh*t.


The International Shrub Of Mystery

The best of the raspberry canes.

The flowering chives.

And there's the gag, see? It's a photo of some bags of sh*t! You thought that when I said "Here are some photographs of stuff growing and sh*t." that I was just cussing the swearwords because that's how people talk now, like I was using the parlance of our time. But it is actually a photograph of some sh*t! Because that's how we roll!
(and isn't the home-made compost bin ace!)

So Herb wandered along for a gander and brought the seeds and onion set down for us to ooh and aah over. There we were stood out in the sunshine. Occasionally a cloud would cross the sky but it was a pretty nice day. There were a few clouds looming in the distance but I figured I had a good hour and a bits worth of digging before they hit us. The weather forecasts had predicted the arrival of the winter that never was the first time around for this weekend but Saturday had been glorious as well so what the hell do they.............

.........know. This photo was taken within 30 seconds of the sky turning dark grey and a mini-blizzard swirling around us. It doesn't really do it justice (and my residing-in-Canada sister will be struggling to stifle guffaws at the pathetic nature of the snow) but it was amazing how quickly the temperature dropped by like 10 degrees. A matter of seconds. Click on the picture to get a better looksee.
We stood around like the British do in bad weather but after about a minute or so it was just too frickin' cold so the day drew to a close.
But still, good work was done. And the country has something to talk about around the water coolers today because like, the elections in Zimbabwe or the anti-Chinese protests messing with the Olympic flame's route through London, etc aren't interesting at all. Actually, whilst we're on the subject, the Olympic flame had to be put on a bus at one point (St. Pauls Cathedral, I think) to protect it from the protesters. Was it a bendy-bus? A double decker? I thought they were all no-smoking now? You can't smoke a cigarette but you're allowed an Ever-Burning Symbol Of Olympic Spirit, a flaming bloody torch? What?