Saturday, 31 May 2008

Help There's a Pasty Tramp Stealing Our Potatoes!

(HW)There isn't actually a tramp stealing our spuds, it's just Mr Banks carrying on the never ending Battle To The Death And Beyond between weed and man. (I would like to say at this point that the honkjazz massive has no opinion on tramps so there).

The kestrel's (2nd Earlies) are well on there way and looking healthy. I have to say that the weather extremes that the south west is experiencing now are playing right into our muddy hands as it seems to be pushing the growth of everything on site along at a major pace, but more of that later...

Yeah. (BB)

Just kidding. Like H says, the weather is a bit of a double edged sword at the moment. On the one hand the massive rain attack we've had over the last couple of weeks has given the vegetables enough Water - The Juice Of Life, Creation & Tasty Beverage Also (Tm) to give them a lovely kick in the ass but it means that we can't get up there to finish the 2nd carrot/spring onion bed and the runner bean bed/trench/swamp/whatever. I don't care. Deal with it.

(honkstival billing idea: "If the honkjazz djs could play funkyass house, electro, lovegroove, broken bat-deepstep then they'd probably do it between 12am and 2am.")

(HW) Ok so back to the veg in hand or in the ground depending on where you're sat. The beautiful green shoots of life you can see are the wonderful Sturon onions. These little blighters have been exceeding all expectations by actually growing out of the ground!!

But there is one fear in my mind that keeps nagging and that is what we do if the onions get sick....

I jest but it's a real fear...... (I know it's a picture of a pumpkin but i like the image!)

Anyway the potatoes are going great guns and the onions are almost ready for eye watering (??!!) world domination.
And on a final note i must say that the Mixatron 8000 proved to be as Brazil said "Awesome" more to come on that subject....

Thursday, 15 May 2008

honkjazz The Allotment - Part 11

Saturday 10th May, 2008

So this weekend it was Clash Of The Titans!!

Us on the left, weeds on the right.

(and yes, I do think it is the funniest thing ever to pitch Mother Nature as Thunderlips:The Sexiest Man In The Universe out of Rocky III.)

As mentioned before, we'd enlisted the help of The Dreadnoughts in the mission to strim the living sh*t out of our overgrown plot.

Here is our overgrown plot as it stood on Saturday morning. It's a nightmare right? Although, as Harry The Pig-Sh*t Wizard said "If the weeds are growing then your ground is good." and he's either right or addled by zider. One is certain.
I arrived at the plot at 10:30am and started clearing all of our kit onto the shed base (useless patio) so The Dreadnoughts could get where they needed to get to. Upon moving our pile of tools I jumped out of my skin as a deadly poisonous viper hissed at me from the undergrowth. Really, I did squeal like a little girl. "Ahhh, snake!" I cried. "Slow-worm." said Old John's wife across the fence. Ron wandered over (Rondered?) from the next-door plot and picked up the writhing mess of venom (I would have done it but I was too busy cowering behind a 5ft dock weed) and sure enough it was a pair of mating slow-worms. I apologised for the interruption and they were gently placed in the next door plot so they wouldn't get strimmed to death because I can't think of a worse passion killer than being attacked by a giant strimmer mid-tryst. Really, you'd have to be some kind of a low down snake in the grass to try and get some action after such a traumatic event. One of the slow-worms had the most wonderful blue markings along it's flanks and I'm gutted that I'd left my camera at home because they really were beauiful. Found another one under the water-butt lid as well.
On his way out Ron found more evidence of the local inhabitants.

It's a little mouses love nest. What the hell are we running here, some kind of sleazy wildlife hook-up motel?
So after all of the neighbors had oohd/aahd/eekd
at the slow-worms and I'd oohd/aahd/eekd at the
mouses nest I finished moving everything out of the way. Herbert turned up at about mid-day and we told The Dreadnoughts that we were off to a popular-nationwide-DIY-chain-store and that they could start whenever they wanted or wait until we returned. Upon our return we could see them huddled over a wildly spluttering machine. I feared that they wouldn't be able to fix the strimmer but it turned out that they'd already finished the job! And all for the price of some cans of Nelson (Mandela - Stella).

It was a super-hot day, easily the best weekend of scorching sunshine this year and perfect weather for gardening. We raked up the loose cuttings and dumped them on the compost heap before marking out the final four beds which we then dug over in the roughest of fashions, just to establish the spaces and let the weeds know that they were On Our Turf! (fish in a barrel!). Herb also went around the borders of the plots and the pathway with the RoundUp like some Harbinger Of Doom!!!!! Wonderful housekeeping H.

Unbelievable right? H and I kept wandering around muttering about how awesome it was before Herb had to disappear at about 4pm.
I cracked open a cold beer turning the plot into some strange gymnasium/pub hybrid.
Music was needed and the little red radio proved it's worth with some cracking Radio 3 jazz. And WHAT A SHOW it was. Yeah, maybe I was getting a little toasted. Certainly a little sunburned. But whatever, man. The music was excellent and helped the whole operation tick along nicely. My dad would have been in heaven.

Here's a little shot of the table.

Herbert reappeared at about 6:30pm and we retired to the social area for some light refreshments. Things got pretty merry and by 8:30pm we found ourselves giggling away about something or other like stupid idiots. Which was a completely inappropriate moment to meet our allotment neighbor-to-the-left for the first time. God knows what we were laughing about when she arrived but we must have looked a sorry state, two grown men listening to 50s crooner music, surrounded by empty beer cans, tears of laughter falling from our eyes. Things only got worse when we wondered what would her blog entry would be like ("Visited the plot at 8:30pm to see my neighbors rolling around like two stupid fools. Thank Christ I didn't bring my kids up to the plot tonight......"). This just made us both fall apart even more and she didn't look too impressed. Heh. Whatever.

I struggle to convey just how wonderful this day was. Loads of amazing work was done and the weather was so perfect. The laughter was constant. The Radio 3 jazz show was just immense and I'm sure that the distant cheers from the cricket pitch were perfectly timed with the end of every jazz drum solo or horn crescendo. Perhaps it was the beers and the sunshine after all. Still, it was the best afternoon and we really should have more like it. Which leads us to..............

Sunday 11th May, 2008
Wow! How do you top a day like that. A day that was more creative and productive and foolish and totally awesome than the honkjazz allotment has ever seen before? Well you do it all again, that's how. So on Sunday I drove into Exeter to pick up some Freecycle good stuff (useless cr*p) and then went to Herb's to chop up some doors and timber. I left H to eat his lunch and headed back to the plot to dig. The afternoon sun was so blasting that I had to strip to the waist as I worked (heee and indeed urgh). Hear that H? That's the sound of a few mice clicking AWAY from this page!

It was only a matter of time before my naked torso attracted the attention of the local birds.
(fish in a barrel my friend, fish in a barrel)

This little creature danced around bed number 5 plucking a few worms and bugs and stuff. Nice to meet you whatever the hell type of bird you are. H turned up and we got stuck into the 5th bed but the weather was just too nice and the vibes were just too good to really push ourselves as we had the day before.

We did manage to finish of the compost bin with the newly chopped bits of door that we'd snagged from the building site next to H's place.
We used one half as a front and one half as a lid. We love it.

Anyways, H chipped off at about 6pm leaving me with a case of beers and a gorgeous evening to work through. And that's what I did. The only excitement came when I was walking up the hill with a full watering can only for my boot laces to catch on each other's lace loops sending me flying into the dirt face first. And it totally had nothing to do with the beers that I'd taken. No really, it didn't. I tried to move my right leg but nothing was giving. It was probably broken. Lightning bolts of pain shot through me as I struggled to get to my feet only to collapse under the weight of agony. Splintered cartilage spiked from my kneecap, grinding against open flesh. Blood coursed down my right shin as I flailed across the site, crashing into bushes and fences, legs giving in to blinding pain, consciousness fading fast. As the blood leaked from my body I started to see white flashes in front of my eyes. Feeling the crows of death flutter nearby I managed to crawl back to the plot, a trail of shattered bone and blood left in my wake.

These things always look a lot worse before you've cleaned them up right?
Other highlights of the weekend included listening to my beloved Everton FC qualify for UEFA Cup football next season by beating the hapless Newcastle to clinch 5th spot in the Premiership and Bob/John (still not sure which is which) donating 13 icy gemberg lettuce things. What? I don't know! Anyway, I planted those up and they looked pretty cool.
So the weekend was basically:
a) Totally cool
b) Totally hot
c) Football magic
d) Drenched in blood

Later on I'd think that the sign of the crucifix had appeared in my knee cut like it sometimes does in Mexico or wherever. You know? The face of Jesus is found inside a mango or something? Turned out to be an imprint from the sofa that I was kneeling on. I'd briefly entertained the notion of selling Holy Vegetables Grown From The Sacred Soil blah blah. Oh well.

So after the disappointment of that I had to look back on the weekend in awe. The plot was transformed from a complete battlezone which was really starting to get us down into a mapped out allotment, ready for action, propelled into the next stages of development. New foods were planted. Music was listened to. Stunts were executed. Wildlife was discovered. Good vibes were felt. Neighbors were laughed at. Football was ace. And progress was felt. That's it. Progress.

So we win.

(I don't mind which one you pick Herb. I'm cool in yellow or red. I mean Rock has the smallest shorts, I don't know if that effects your choice......)

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

Bring. It. On.

So I've just returned from one of the most confusing allotment experiences I've ever had. The weekend that Herb and I first walked on-site was a confusing allotment moment. We wandered around in amazement trying to figure out exactly what we'd taken on. The mixture for me was about 36% sheer dread, 33% complete excitement and 45% hay-fever. And that extra 14% is a bitch when you haven't got any tissues. Whatever.
Today was a bit like that for me.

I got back from work and headed straight up to the plot with a 4-pack of beers under my arm, bumping into The Dreadnoughts on the way who said "You've got the right idea, son!". I smiled.
So Herbert joined me and the confusion of emotions started.

Good Times: The sun was shining and it was a beautiful evening. At 6pm in May, when the sky is bright and the air is warm, England is as magical a place to be as anywhere else. It was truly wonderful - the bird-song, green spaces, flowers blooming, vegetables creaking into life, insects buzzing. Simply perfect. We drank a couple of beers and smoked a little into the evening sun. And yes I KNOW I'm supposed to be on a health kick but really, who could begrudge a man a beer and a smoke in such lovely situations as these? No-one? Good.

Bad Times: The recent weather has had strong effects on the honkjazz allotment. The potatoes, onions, raspberry canes, etc are doing very well thank you very much.
And so are the weeds. Really, the place has gone ballistic in the last two weeks. We've had brief spells of rain followed by brief spells of sunshine followed by rain, then sun, then rain, etc, etc. Which means that everywhere apart from the dug out beds (numbering four) have become completely overgrown with weeds, docks, creeping thistles and triffids. It's a terrible place to find ourselves because now we have to decide what to do with the other half of the plot.
Ideally we'd like all eight plots dug out in the next six weeks so we can fill them with swede, cauliflower, runner beans, carrots and whatever else we fancy. But the overgrowth is so extreme that there's no way we can dig. So the plan is.........

Have another beer and sit down to smoke wistfully for a bit..................

We have a two part plan. First we use the strimmer on the plot borders, around the relaxation area and all over the bottom half of the plot. We'll then use Round-Up all over the place - around the bed borders, in between the Belfast sinks, along the pathways, etc. That will take care of that invasion. Then we need to tackle the bottom half of the plot. I'd love to do it all by hand so if the newly strimmed ground is easier to dig (because tonight it was so thickly overgrown it was impossible) then we'll do that. If it's too late and the weeds have intertwined below ground level so much that we can't break them with the fork then we'll treat the entire bottom half of the plot with the chemical juice.
I guess that propels us into the organic vs evil chemical warfare argument but I don't think we really care. We'll be as organic as we like.
Deal with it.

After Herb left I wandered around the allotment site to see what everyone else was up to. At the top end I met a chap called Paul who shares the plots with The Dreadnoughts. After a brief chat he kindly offered his strimming services this weekend.
It's on.
With the help of Paul we're determined to make a good old dent in the ground.
I may well fashion some Mexican wrestling masks for H and I, just to strike the fear of Fray Tormento into the b*stard weeds!
In the immortal words of Apollo Creed.