Saturday, 30 January 2010

Honkjazz - The Musical Allotment Huzzah!!

Hello my lovelies. Are you well? Been taking care on that slippy ice? Good.

As you may have seen from the previous post, honkjazz has a new friend. The decision has been taken to sort this dump out a bit! We're planning to slowly move the video player and podcast players over to the new site and hopefully leave this place to handle the allotment side of things. We'll still keep a radio show on a little player here so you can listen to our musical endeavors whilst perusing the gardening stuff at the same time. The links page will change as well in keeping with the overhaul. Festivals (unless they're food ones :D), record shops, record companies, etc will all move over to Chew Bubblegum. Instead we'll link you to farmers markets, fishing hotspots, amazing restaurants, agricultural agencies and excellent farm shops. Kapiche?

Good. We think it will make everything a lot more simple on the eye. We might even use this as a chance to redecorate. Also I've

 changed the name of partner in crime No.1 to keep in line with his super-duper DJ career. His name was never Herbert Westchester, that's just ridiculous! He's called Blunts. Potential confusion averted. Lots of changes eh?

Hopefully it will all coincide with a change in fortunes for the plot itself. The weather has been so awful since October that we've not been able to do anything there at all. Even when it has stopped raining for just one day the soil has been so waterlogged that any efforts are useless. The last batch of onions, garlic and broad beans were planted during one of these brief respites from the pluvial onslaught and consequently all have completely failed to sprout from their waterlogged beginnings except the garlic. Strangely this has flourished so thats at least one victory for team Honkjazz. The rain did stop before Christmas. Just in time for a three week freeze which, coupled with the snow that followed rendered the plot inaccessible. The weather has cleared up a bit (although we did have a slight flutter of snow last night) and the rain isn't a constant factor so I'm really hoping to get to the plot tomorrow. There's not really a lot to do there in truth. The last third of the old broccoli

bed has to be dug over and there's some very light weeding to be done on the other beds. I'd like to get some of H&S' amazing pig poo on top of the beds as well. Feed the earth and you shall be fed in return. Or something.

The last twenty or so swede are distributed across three beds so we should be picking those off over the next month or two as we start to plan the next campaign of growing. The very last of the brussel sprouts need to be hoiked out as well. 

Then we'll have seven empty beds to play with. This year I'd like to plant more peas as they were one of my favorite successes last summer. The harvest would have been much bigger if Bibby and I hadn't snaffled so many straight from the plants. "Like little vegetable sweets!!" is how Bibby gleefully described them and I couldn't agree more. Runner beans should come back as well after last years absence. We didn't plant them out due to losing the crop of seeds taken from the year before. I swore blind that Bibs had put them in a mixed bean vegematarian casserole or some type of dinner that makes you want to wear sandals and make clothes out of hemp and drive a car powered by the gastric emissions of your children Tao, Cloud and Tweed. This was

 when she was still a vegematarian (of fourteen years no less!) and before the magic of living in Devon had sparked the primal urge to kill animals and eat their flesh!!!! (she came home with some delicious black pudding the other day and we celebrated our one year anniversary with bloody rump steaks - result). Anyways, it turned out that I'd put them in the loft out of harms way. So who's the chucklehead now huh? 


The potatoes have served us well the last two years so I'm guessing that we'll work those again. Perhaps this year we can buy a few less as we ended up with a bit of a glut and its an emotional wrench of a crime to throw homegrown food on the compost heap, one which I'd rather not have to repeat. The tomatoes that I collected from a freecycler were a unanimous failure - possibly due to the complete 100% lack of food that we gave them. Like a high maintenance girlfriend or human child they need food to live! Who knew?

Otherwise there's potential in parsnips, hope for herbs and possibilities for pumpkins. That sounded very Hugh Fearnley-Eatsitall didn't it?

And speaking of the River Cottage lifestyle guru, I'd like to touch on another aspect of this food malarky - foraging.

Two books from the River Cottage lot have really given Bibs and I a push in the direction of free food from the hedgerows and the seashores. One is a cookbook that contains more advice on growing vegetables, keeping livestock, foraging for mushrooms and fishing the rivers, coastlines and seas of our land than it does recipes. The other is a book by John Wright, his advisor in all matters relating to foraging. This one sticks to the beaches and harbors of England and has given us a fully fledged desire to start collecting the edible plants and shellfish that populate the coastlines of Devon and Cornwall. The nearest beach is only a fifteen minute drive away and if we can spend an afternoon splashing around the rock-pools and tidelines and come home with a bucket of prawns, mussels and cockles then we'd be daft to ignore the culinary benefits which couple the mighty pull of the ocean which surely affects all of us on some level. A lumpy sentence but one which expresses exactly how I feel. 

So neeer!!

 A couple of visits to nearby Brixham have produced a desperate want to start fishing from the beaches and breakwaters as well. Slapton beach is home to some pretty big fishing competitions so I'm hopeful of that as an indicator of an abundant ocean larder. There are many beautiful coastal towns with a harbor wall that we can park up on and there are plenty of rocky beaches that are perfect for a flask of tea, some sandwiches and a spot of mackrel-bashing. So the next of you to visit our neck of the woods c

ould be treated to a homemade AND self-caught fish pie! We're very excited about this as ever since we stumbled on a carpet of wild garlic in some nearby woods we've being wanting to get out and about with a book and a bag and a roving eye for plants, herbs, fruit and seafood that we can harvest with no damage to the environment or our purse-strings and only positive benefits in terms of taste and freshness.

 We'll also be safe in the knowledge that this food is completely organic and having cut out the middlemen of growers, distribution chains and shops will have had no detrimental effects on the environment. Everyone wins. Especially us.

On another note, some of you may have noticed a distinct lake of puzzle books as of late. This is explained by my employment situation. Having left the puzzle book world in October and spending two months on the sofa (Dr Quinn Medicine Woman is

very addictive and also an excellent barometer of just how long you've been unemployed - following plot lines across more than three episodes? Back to work with you right away!!) I started working for a company called Riverford Organic Vegetables in December. So now you're likely to get some grade-out vegetables instead of puzzle books, although they may not fare too well in transit to Oklahoma or New Orleans.

Working with fruit and vegetables all day long is an absolute joy, both from a sensual and an ethical viewpoint. The smells and sights, tastes and touches of our produce is just too amazing to describe. You've all smelt a fresh leek in your time I'm sure. Try smelling two tonnes of them. The smell hits you like a hammer. A very lovely vegetable hammer. I'm guessing I'll never have to use that sentence ever again.

And the ethics that this company live by are outstanding. Their efforts to reduce carbon footprints, re-use and recycle as much packaging as possible and support co-operatives of growers and farmers in the UK, Europe, Africa and South America are exemplory.

 Admittedly I'm working in a warehouse. It just happens to filled with delicious organic produce instead of nuts and bolts or tupperware or computer components and situated on a beatuful farm in the heart of south Devon's breathtaking countryside.

Which is nice.

So it seems like everything is going pretty swimmingly at the moment.

Whats that? You want some pictures?

Oh all right, here's a couple of highlights from 2009.



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