Christmas Came Early

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Look at that face. The joy. The happiness. The relief. This is a man whose Christmas has come early. And why? Continue reading “Christmas Came Early”

Allotment Etiquette

Everyone is different and everyone approaches things differently, so on a small section of God’s green land, that’s divided and shared among the green-fingered community, it’s inevitable that tensions between tenants will arise on occasion. Whether it’s competitiveness over the best looking spuds, or ownership over the last shovel of free horse manure, we all like a good moan.

However, when allotments are left to ruin and start encroaching on your own garden of Eden, what can you do? Plot

At present, my allotment is surrounded by several disused plots. One includes a wonderful orchard full of plum and apple trees, gooseberry and raspberry bushes. Plums

Up until early last year, the chap who rented the plot would maintain, prune and mow the surrounding grassland. We would always exchange pleasantries, comment on the weather and compliment each other’s hard work. He began building some decking, brought up a barbecue, and talked about spending summer evenings relaxing among the trees. Come autumn, the orchard would be bulging with fruit for the taking, it was a splendid sight, and followed by its pretty blossoms in spring, you couldn’t help but envy his orchard.

Unfortunately I haven’t seen him since spring last year, which meant, by autumn, his trees and bushes were teeming with fruit, and left to rot. Nevertheless, I did lighten the load by taking some of the fallen fruit. Right or wrong, I couldn’t bear the thought of it going to waste, it seemed criminal.

Several months on, there’s still no sign of the fella and his orchard has become overgrown and lost in the wilderness. But what makes it worse, it’s now encroaching on my allotment. Overgrown

I had hoped to see him, as I know he still has the lease on the plot. I was looking forward to a friendly conversation where I could find out what’s going on, and see if he was going to make good.

But with no sign of him, I’m finding I’m losing precious time as I have to constantly cutback the excessive growth. I’ve also noticed, compared to last year, a lot more of my crops are suffering from bug attacks. Of course this could just be a coincidence, but part of me thinks these troublesome critters have been making their bug homes in the overgrown areas, and feasting on my goods in the small wee hours.. Grrr!

I’m not someone who tell tales, I want this resolved in a positive way but I wonder if the allotment secretary knows the situation? If the orchard is too much for him, I had briefly considered taking it on myself. The idea almost paralysed Agent Soph. ‘Nooooo! Not more produce to cook, pickle, freeze and bake!”

But when your allotment is surrounded by disused plots, you have to ask, should people be allowed to hold onto them? After all, with such high waiting lists, it seems rather self indulgent to have something for the sake of having it, and then not using it. Of course, personal and health issues do occur, so without a doubt, allowances should be made. But still.

(Agent Ade steps down from his soapbox.)Overgrown1

For now, I hope the orchard man is fine and in good health, and that he soon makes a welcome return. Otherwise, I may suggest to the allotment secretary that something needs to be done with the autumn fruit.

Which brings me onto the next item on the agenda..

Snail

How do you evict these unwanted buggers?AdeSignature

It’s Not All About Appearances

On a cold, wet, gloomy weekend morning, when most people are cosying up in front of the fire with a cuppa, admiring their Christmas tree and enjoying the comforts of home, where am I? On a desolate plot of land, soaked to the bone, trekking barrows of well rotted horse manure to and fro. But you won’t hear me complaining, a week on the London treadmill and I’m screaming for this, it’s my therapy. 2In recent weeks, our local stables have been delivering free manure to the allotment, and like bees around a honeypot, the allotment old boys have been there on cue, whisking it away before anyone else can get a look-in. It’s like some secret society, they’re in on it and they’re not sharing delivery times with anyone. But that’s OK, because I’ve noticed something. It seems everyone wants the freshly-delivered manure and are ignoring the blackening heap at the back. It’s like black gold waiting to be discovered. So, I’ve been biding my time for a good few months as this heap has been rotting down, untouched, unwanted.. until now.

I don’t know why people are taken with the sparkle and glamour of fresh manure, but to me, it’s asking for trouble. It’s only when it has been well rotted down do we get the results. Fresh manure can bring a host of problems from burning tender shoots to hosting parasites and other unwanted pests. The one thing I’ve learnt as a gardener is, take your time – gardening can’t be rushed, and the best results are always worth a wait.

And so, planting my flag firmly in this mountain of blackened sludge, I claimed it as the property of Agents of Field. Then quickly I set about whisking it onto my beds before the allotment freemasons got a whiff of it. 1

This year I’ve opted for green manure on a lot of my beds, but I’ve left a couple purposely for horse manure. Why? Call it an experiment; I want to see if there’s any difference in my crops next year when using these two manure types. I’m a gardener, I always want to learn more, so why not? beet Collage

Other jobs this weekend included lifting the last of my beetroot. We’ve had great success with our three varieties this year, Boltardy, Golden Globe and Chioggia. From roasting to pickling to Agent Soph’s delicious home-made borscht, beetroot in our household is a must, so I decided this remaining crop would spend their final days swimming in pickle until a cold meat buffet calls upon their services.

Finally, and I know I keep going on about it, but my Christmas Day goal this year is to have all the veg on the big day grown from our allotment. So imagine my excitement when I got to the plot this weekend to find tiny purple-headed ‘Rudolph’ broccoli blowing in the breeze, proudly displaying their vibrant colour!5

.. Just gotta get them to the big day. AdeSignature