Monday, 21 July 2008

honkjazz The Allotment - Part 14

From this -

To this -

To this -

Yes, the first produce from the honkjazz allotment has hit our plates in the form of lovely, green baby gem lettuces. Herbert will be having his with lunch today and I tasted some in freshly baked roles with Spanish chorizo in one and Milanese salami in the other. And dear Lord it was a tasty treat. Made all the better because we made it. We made it I say! The start of something that is very good for you.

So this weekend has seen a lot of hard work done on the site. Nothing mad important, just housework. But work all the same. On Saturday Herb and I busied ourselves with the weeding. The beds were starting to become a bit overgrown with a sea of little green invaders covering the floor. The worst hit was the runner bean patch so I got stuck into that whilst H tackled the onion bed. I must say that I found it very, very satisfying indeed. And I got into it too, not letting a single little weed slip past. What a joy a freshly weeded vegetable bed is!
The runner beans are doing well considering how late we planted them out. Herb and I have kind of gotten into the slacker side of garden in some cases, i.e it will do it's own thing so let it do it's own thing. So what if we planted stuff out at the wrong time of year. It's natural instinct is to grow. And if it doesn't grow it dies. That's that. Apart from a short dalliance with Round-Up (which I'm happy to leave alone now - the weeds will always come back!) we haven't used any chemical aids or pesticides or any stuff like that. No nitrogen pellets, no Fish Blood & Bone. Nothing. Just a lot of pigsh*t and digging. I'm cool with that.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, the runners are doing well, climbing steadily with lots of beautiful red flowers around the base of the plants, probably up the first two feet or so. Hopefully the vines will soon mesh and tangle and the flowers will appear all over (like our neighbor Ron's wonderful plants that you can see in the background - a curse on your house Ronald!!). Here they are....

Herbert shuffled off to have fun in the sun on the run and I finished off the bean bed and called it a day for Saturday. After all, it WAS Chudleigh Carnival that evening and there would undoubtedly be live Bare Knuckle Boxing in the streets once the procession had finished. So that was Saturday done. But not before I tried to start some shear-trimming action on the quickly growing grass. But the call of the carnival had it's grip on me. The smell of donut grease hung like a heavy cloak over the village whilst a mustard gas Candy floss aroma searched out open windows and tickled the occupants on the chin, drawing them outside in a daze. Not really sure what they were doing stood in the road, they soon found themselves slowly walking to the town square where they would eat pink sugar and watch Chudleigh's Got Talent on a little stage near the war memorial. Later they would snap back awake as the dying notes of 'Simply The Best' or 'Let Me Entertain You' hung in the air and the male/female duo (called something like Fire & Ice or Mark Two - because his name is Mark and it's his band and there's two of them) packed up their gear. Nobody could quite remember what happened that evening and all across the village people looked at the battery powered flashing deely-boppers and pink, sparkly cowgirl hats that they had somehow acquired and tried to work out what the time was.

So on Sunday I headed back up to the plot and got stuck in. So much work to do and such a beautiful day to do it on. I started by having a bit of a tidy up and finished off the grass cutting for the bottom of the plot and around the fences. I should have done the whole plot but it's a real back killer so I kept procrastinating by finding little jobs that I didn't even know needed doing. I practically emptied the dumpy bag full of weeds into about twenty sacks ready to be deposited at the recycle centre which took a while but was cool because as soon as the bag is empty we can chuck it away and build another compost bin in it's place. And what a joyful and triumphant day that will be for all!

I went through the potato plots and unraveled any pesky bindweed that I found on the spud plants. The potatoes are doing very well and are starting to slowly die back. They're quite crowded in and stretching out at the sides in search of light. I think it's going to be packed with spuds under the ground and can't wait to start digging them out with my grubby little hands.

I finished off the onion bed weeding leaving a load of beautiful onions who, like the spuds, are just starting to pull the goodness from their leaves in one last growth spurt. Not that some of them need it. The biggest of them are about the size of a lawn bowling ball. Lovely. I'm going to attempt to plait them together in a rustic French stylee! I do not have high hopes for that part of the operation.
So er..... good luck with that.

I then dug a few weeds out of the mixed bed. This bed is one of my favorites because it keeps changing and it's lovely and bright. The day we finished it Bob/Jon wandered over and gave us some lettuce sproutlets so we planted those in. Then we filled the rest up with alternating rows of carrots and spring onions. Except they didn't really work. As you can see only half of the carrots took and none of the spring onions (actually out of a packet of 1000 seeds we have five spring onions - hahahahahahaha). So after I'd pulled out the few weeds on show I decided to move the pepper plants from one of the Belfast sinks and into some of the spare ground left by the stupid spring onions. Although there is a theory doing the rounds that we washed the seeds away the first time we even watered them but whatever. Only three out of the nine pepper plants had made it but I still planted the other six brown withered stalks because you never quite know what's going on with that there nature stuff. Feeling very happy with myself I did the same thing for the failed garlic plants. These were going great guns and then just died back into the bulb form. Not sure what happened but the bulbs were just sitting there in the sink-soil so I chucked those into the ground as well and we'll just wait and see what will happen. Probably nothing, maybe something.

This is the one bed that I couldn't really work on. After cutting away the nettles and grass along the back fence I could get to weeding the swedes (sweeding?) but the broccoli is still so small that's it's difficult to weed around it so I thought I'd leave this one until it's obvious exactly what is a broccoli sproutling and what is a weed in disguise!
Hmmm, hasn't my shadow put on weight?

So this is all me putting off finishing the grass-cutting. So I thought, "Mmmmmm, I know, I'll go and eat that lovely, big raspberry that I spotted yesterday on one of our fledgling raspberry bushes. Over I wander only to find SHOCK HORROR that it's missing. Just as I'm about to call an allotment holders emergency meeting in the presence of the village constabulary to solve this crime I spotted the offender. It was a bird flying overhead. I saw the look in it's beady little birdy eye and I could swear that it squawked at me the little sh*t. So I wasted a good hour and a half building the worlds most useless fruit cage.
It's useless on many levels as well. Primarily because it WILL fall apart with the slightest gust of wind. I only had five pieces of bamboo and some string to make the framework so you can imagine how well it's held together. More a stick balanced on some other sticks. If it does actually manage to stay together the birds definitely won't
be able to get at the raspberries. And neither will
we. The entire thing would have to be knocked over
in order to pick one, single fruit. The last completely stupid "design" flaw is the possibility of a bird getting inside through one of the many little holes but not being able to get out. So we'll have no fruit left and a nice collection of birds that have been literally scared to death.
Nice work huh? I bet you've never seen a fruit-cage/bird-trap as well constructed as this one?
At least I got to take part in the Thing That Boys Love To Do No. 16 (no, not that) - building things out of string and sticks and nets. Which is of course ace.

I finished the day with two great pieces of work. I finished off the grass cutting and then weeded Herbert's 2nd carrot/spring onion bed.
This is such a relaxing thing to do - sitting in the dirt gently plucking little weeds from the ground and occasionally crumbling up clods of earth. Getting your hands in the soil (which was wonderfully warm under the surface) can be very soulful experience and one that I can recommend to anyone wanting a bit of stress relief.
So there we are. Barring one plot the entire allotment has been smartened up, had a haircut (styled by Vidal Baboon) and weeded to within an inch of it's little life. Things were replanted (and therefore given another chance to feed our greedy bellies) and protected and I invented a great way to trap birds. And we got to eat some stuff that we made live.
And we are mighty good smug about this.


Jute said...

As an avid viewer of your plot and an avid listener to your music it is exceedingly pleasureable to see another musician struggling and succeeding in a battle with mother nature. We've got lots of artichoke plants going begging but I can't think of a way to get them to you. Asparagus seedlings are going out today - whether they like it may be a different matter. Mostly we have been scaring cabbage white butterflys of the brassicas.

Herbert Westchester & Brazil Banks said...

Can we get a little badge "Musicians Against Weeds" or something? That would be ace.