Monday, 20 April 2009

Honkjazz - The Allotment Part 19

March 29th, April 5th, 12th & 18th

Well now, haven't we been away from a long time! You may be forgiven for thinking that we've done nothing at all. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. In fact we've entered a wonderful era in the evolution of the honkjazz allotment. Not only is everything starting to burst into life but we've also got crops ready to pick and cut from last autumn and we've been rearranging the lay of the land as well. A new team member of many names (starts on zero Team Lazer Plant Points but is swiftly heading for a good months haul) is making herself very useful indeed and has become official photographer of the month. It means that you'll be seeing more photographs like this:

Its a big, fwuwwy cadipwia!!!
And its sat on one of our raspberry canes. So you see, this photograph did serve a purpose other than making you go "ooooooh". We're currently unsure about the survival rate of the raspberry canes. Five out of the eight are showing no signs of life whatsoever but I'm quietly confident that they will come back again. Just you wait.

So what else has been going on? Details are hazy regarding what has been done on what day but here is the General Rub (reggae name no. 32):

We've started (and nearly completed) the restructuring of the top left corner of the plot. It used to have a dedicated bed just for the raspberries but we came to realise that it was a bit of a waste. So instead we've moved them back so they're flush against the fence and enlarged their old bed. Not sure what we might put in there to grow. There are lots of options and I think that Herb has a better idea of whats happening than Bibby or myself. BobJohn gave us two lovely gooseberry cuttings which Bibs has planted along the top fence to form a DEATH-DEFYING WALL OF FRUIT!!!!!

Here they are, look:

So that corner is all good. I'll attempt to put the last of the fencing back around the new plot (because Snip did it all wonky) this weekend and then ask Herbert what he wants to plant. Another plot ready - nicely slicely.

The other top corner has had a bit of restructuring but sadly there are no photographs of this. Tsssk. Over the last few weeks I've been moving the Belfast sinks into a more tidy arrangement, filled them with earth to plant sproutlings into before transplanting them into the ground, moved the shonky, old trolly thing and put stuff on it and done some other stuff as well. Sounds amazing right?

We've also put this funny plant chimney thing up there as well. My work colleague Sheridan has kindly donated some strawberry plants so I've put them in the chimney which my sister bought me years and years ago and had been sat in my folks garden full of dead herb plants. I'm hoping that its a combination of gravity and the newness of their home thats causing the plants to wilt. Once the roots bed down a bit I'm pretty sure that they'll be alright.
Also, this photograph makes it look quite threatening and alien. Which is nice.

And the wonderful David and his wife whose name I can never remember came over a couple of weekends ago to collect the mystery shrub. It was decided that as much as it was lovely and colourful it was taking up space that could be used to feed our hungry, gaping mouths. So a bit of pub business was done and David and Mystery Wife wandered along to collect it (Sniplet had spent days trying to dig the thing out - respeckatah to her for that) and in return donated a cutting from a one hundred year old bay tree. It belonged to the King Of Devon or something and David is very proud of it. The leaves were so large that I first assumed he was winding us up in the hope that we'd all go home and crumble bits of rhododendron bush into our cooking dinners but no, the honkiest bay leaves I've ever smelt. Thank you David and...................................Pauline? No. Sharon? No. Argh, fuggadabaddit.

Other structural developments - I've made a new bit at the very bottom of the plot after moving the compost bin and tidying up a load of cr*p revealed enough space for a big-ass bed. So thats been dug over, weeded, de-stoned, twisty-spikey-thinged and bordered. Then I put a bunch of swede seeds in the ground at either end (not expecting them all to grow, all one thousand of them) and a few brussel sprout seeds as well. So I come back a week later and there are flipping hundreds of swedes sprouting up.

"This'll never do" I says to eeself and spent a good two hours gently plucking the delicate, little things from the earth and putting them into pots and trays.
There's still hundreds of them in the ground but at least we'll be able to give them away a bit more easily now. Look, here I am saying "This'll never do" to eeself and gently plucking the delicate, little things from the earth to put into pots and trays.
Planted some more brussel sprout seeds in pots (just to hedge some bets) and now the Belfast sink area is awash with little pots of seeds all growing away. Its ace! There's also a couple of pots of flowers knocking around (you can tell that a girl! has been here) so its tidier, prettier and it smells nice too.



H over ordered on the potatoes this year so we've filled loads of pots down each side of the plot just to use some spuds up before they just rot away. Sad really, there's still loads of them in the shed which it looks like we might end up throwing on the compost (the potatoes not the shed) unless Acorn's Big Idea comes to fruition - see below a bit. And aren't these photographs lovely (if not a little head-spinning)?

Those potted potatoes haven't sprung to life yet but they did go into soil about three weeks after the earlies, second earlies and main crop potatoes did. I'm not sure what types Herb chose this year, I don't concern myself with that sciencey bit so I'll leave it up to him to tell you whats gone in and when.

Heres a photograph of some potatoes that are growing in some dirt that is on out plot (see the level of language we're working on here?).

I spent another good hour just breaking up the big clods of soil that littered our four potatoe beds. Some of the beds have the utmost care taken over the soil preparation, making sure that its as fine as possible, not a stone in site, all weeds lovingly cleared away. And then some of our plots are covered in huge chunks of earth.

Must Try Harder.
Or Not.
Must Have A Sit Down And Think About It.

At least it was quite theraputic to be busting up the soil like that. I do likes to get my paws grubby.

So thats the fruit corners and potatoes covered, what else?

Broccoli Godamnit, that's what!

Check out this badass RageCage of anti-pigeon technology.

These plants took to the soil very well and as soon as they started to really go for it the leaves were just getting hammered by catapillars and pigeons. One Cage Of Avian Humility later and the heads of broccoli started to appear in their loads of. Should have listened to Jute a lot sooner. Thanks Matey :D

Here are some close up shots of the two types of broccoli.

We've started to eat this now as well. Flippin
delovely it is, we had
some the other night, steamed it we did, ate it with a potato, red pepper and spring onion (from the plot) fritata. Flippin lovely it was. Lovely. It was. It was lovely. We need to move quick on this stuff as well because its starting to flower which I think renders it useless to the kitchen. Luckily its super tasty so it shouldn't be hanging around for too long.
Hopefully by harvesting the topmost bits we'll encourage growth outwards from the bottom. In fact this bed could probably do with a major thinning out as there are lots of plants that are struggling in the lower depths of the shadows so we might have these to give away soon. This also links to Snip's Big Idea of having some kind of trading post where people can either advertise or leave surpluss plants and seeds. I think this is a great yarn and would require nothing more than a small trestle table and for people to be considerate of others when taking things they want. Maybe we'll suggest it a meeting or something. Maybe we'll just do it ourselves and be like anarchist gardeners! Really peaceful, quiet anarchist gardeners who don't like smashing things up (especially not little trestle tables).

So what else?
There's those old broad beans innit?
(Look at this photograph. Really! If Kazoo wants to retain her position as plot photographer she really must try and take some pictures AFTER I've spent the day cutting the grass and weeding the beds so they look all nice and tidy for the shoot.
minus 5 Power Bonus Team Lazer Points for you young lady :)

Look, they've gone and got flowers on them and everything! I moved some of these around a bit the other week, spacing them out into lines and putting sticks in. They have responded wonderfully as you can see from the close upness:

We've been trying to figure out what we can grow this year and it seems to be more of a puzzle to crack than last year. I think thats mainly because we didn't know whether we could even grow anything or not then. Now we know that we can its nice to take more care in chosing crops and planning everything out. July will be a big month for us as the early potatoes, peas and broad beans will all have been harvested (hopefully). That means that there'll be about four plots to play with. Onions, runner beans, carrots and parsnips are all in the running.

There is a bed at the top of the plot that has some nice action going on. It was full of Japanese winter onions but they didn't seem to be doing very well, not showing any bulbous oniony bits on the bottom (again with the knowledge!). So a few weeks ago we started hoiking them out and eating them as you would a spring onion. And they were super tasty as well, really strong. The reason for the early hoiking was that they'd started to pull the goodnesses (or whatever the hell it is plants do/like) out of the leaves and I figured that if they were more of a spring onion then we shouldn't really be wasting these delicious leaves. Right? Well, maybe. They have started to balloon out a bit at the bottom so maybe we were a little hasty. Anyhow, I condensed the remaining onions into one end of the plot and filled the rest of the space with some carrots and spring onions (I'm positive) and we aslo pinched a little bit of space for three lettuce plants that Herb's grandfather kindly donated.

The carrots have started showing one week later so I'm very happy with that one. As soon as the last of the Japanese onions are gone we can fill the remainder of the plot up with more carrots.

Another interesting little bed is in the middle of the plot. It holds the garlic which I tried to grow in one of the sinks last year but it didn't do very well. But the bulbs remained in the sink well after all of the foliage had died away so I chucked them in the ground to see what would happen. The answer is this:

They've been going strong for a while now. Guess we'll just have to wait and see what happens.

Also in this plot are some more lettuces from Herb's Grandfather and a few rows of peas that we only planted a few weeks ago. They've shot out of the ground in the last seven days due to some rather helpful weather - day of rain, day of sun, day of rain, day of sun. Its been great and the weekends seem to be hogging just a bit more of the sun for us to go out and play in. Here are some photographs of that plot for you to look at with your eyeballs:

Over there you can see the peas I was just writing about a minute ago yeah?

And down there are the lettuces I had just mentioned. I'm very happy with those because by this time last year we'd lost half of the planted lettuces to whatever it was that killed them. There are a few more lettuces hidden away at the back of the broccoli plot with the winter greens.
So I think thats everything covered photowise. Its been an amazing three weeks as we've watched it all start to bloom and build. Even more so for Scamp who wasn't with us last year despite putting in some hard ground work right at the start! So for her to be witnessing the growing plants is a wonder. And she likes catapillars.

There has been a good seachange in attitude as well. As we were just kind of flailing around last year we were allowed to make mistakes and just see what would happen. Now we're a bit keener of eye and deadlier of hand (not sure either) as we sculpt the land. We've started to analyse how we space everything out and try to find ways of maximising the small bit of land that we are privileged enough to have. So year by year things will improve. We'll put together a back-dated calender so we can see what was planted and harvested when. And we'll write up a nice list of successes and failures and try to figure out what we did right or wrong. Thats all good.
Here is a picture of a plant near a fence.


Jute said...

I was wondering where you'd been! All looking good.
Been eating purple sprouting as fast as we can but it keeps on growing!!!! spuds are in along with broad beans and spinach and I'm about to cover over the gooseberries to stop the pigeons eating them before we do.