Sunday, 30 May 2010

Ways to Weed

I'm a diligent weeder. To give my vegetables the best possible chance I do my best to remove all competition from competing weeds. At the moment, I reckon my average visit to the plot is split into time segments of 80% weeding, 10% planting, 10% sipping tea & admiring the views and watching the weather rolling in across the sea views.

But boy-oh-boy, do my calves ache.

A booming red ant population (multiple nests in most of my beds, probably due to lack of any rain in April) and ongoing general arachnophobia, mean I take a squatting pose rather than a kneeling one. I can manage about 10 minutes at a time before needing to stand and stretch. Sometimes wish I could semi-metamorphose into a squatting frog-like creature. Could squat for hours and deal with the greenfly all in one hit.

When weeding, my mind usually floats off into the oddest thoughts. Listening to the magpies crawing, wish I could lasso them to help me out a little.

Or best of all, I dream of channelling Maya from Space 1999.

Then I'd change myself into a weed-loving snail and solve all my problems.

Could do without the weird eyebrows though.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

Punishment to fit the crime.

Have allotments always been targeted by vandals, or is this a relatively recent development? And how have we got to the sad state of affairs where it is just a matter of time before it happens? We were advised last Autumn when we first took the plot that it was best not to lock the sheds otherwise they'd be damaged by forced entry (did we listen? - no).

Arrived at the plot yesterday to find lots of sheds - including ours - had been broken in to. Not too bad for us, just the padlock ripped off so some damage to the doorframe & just one smashed pane of glass, nothing taken. But I do feel really sorry for one or two people who had more solid metal sheds - their doors have been thoroughly kicked in and are damaged beyond repair. And not nice to have your shed spray-painted & tagged - no matter what repairs you do to the damage, you're left with a more permanent reminder that's tougher to get rid of.

If I could only get my hands on the vandals, I'd get all medieval on their asses, and invent a punishment to fit the crime. Bury them up to their knees and stake them to the ground using a variety of garden tools, spread them with treacle, scatter them in birdseed, and shout out "RELEASE THE CROWS!"

And, of course, invite my fellow allotmenteers to pelt them with rotten vegetables and douse them in stinky fermented nettle tea.

Or maybe I'd force them to eat my radishes.

Ahhh, yes, about my radishes..... I grew some beauties as you can see (they were ultra-organic, something feasted on the leaves before I could pull them, as you'll see from the holey leaves).

Not sure why I grew them - can't stand them. Never buy them. Don't eat them. But I knew that they're quick easy growers, and I hoped that maybe they'd taste amazingly different.

But no, still distinctly and identifiably radishy. Bleugh.

And there was me, laughing at the couple on the plot opposite who had an emormous bed of spinach on the go last autumn, who when I commented that given the amount growing they must love the stuff, they replied "No, can't stand spinach, but there's not much else will grow this time of year and we like to have something on the go".

I'm not laughing now.

But we did pull our first few leeks today. They've been in since last October, courtesy of our kind allotment neighbour who gave us some of his extras to plant. I've no idea what variety they are, but they were the first thing we planted so we're enormously proud & protective of them. And we've been drooling and salivating at the prospect of eating them for 7 months now.

I think we have to get on with harvesting & eating them now, beacause as soon as it warms up a little they will flower and become inedible. Though leek flowers are stunning - will look like an Agapanthus - so I will leave some to go over.

The ones we had for tea were really tasty - I knew they would be, as the minute we pulled them the oniony leeky perfume that filled the air was very intense.

They tasted like nothing I've ever been able to buy from a supermarket. And I like the imperfect shape of one of them - it just reminded me how all the supermarket food we buy now is all about appearance and not at all about taste.

But the food I am growing is all about the taste. Not that I will be above posting photographs of any rude or lewd vegetable shapes that I might accidently grow.

And please don't say anything about the oniony leeky perfume attracting every onion fly for miles around. I'm hoping that if plants are several weeks behind thanks to the cold winter, then so are the pests...

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Technical Problems

Just found out that half my post missing when I open it up with Explorer even though it looks fine in Firefox. That'll teach me for thinking I could draft a post in Microsoft Word rather than straight into e-blogger and copy & paste it later so I could write & draw & cook & do my ironing all at the same time.

Goodness only knows how it looks in other browsers. Probably appears sideways & has Englebert Humperdink crooning in the background.

Not that that'd be a bad thing.

Will fix it later.

Sunday, 2 May 2010

I'm sorry for the stabbing pain in your eyes

It's non-stop rain all day, and a long weekend to boot. Household chores are all done to my satisfaction (read into that what you will), next batch of seeds are already potted up, only myself to please this weekend, so I will indulge myself with a long posting.

First of all, many thanks to Jo at The Good Life for awarding me one of the Lovely Blog Awards that she was dishing out last week. The rules of accepting the award are to link back to the blog that gave you the award (thanks again Jo!), to tell you 7 random things about myself, and to offer to forward the award on to other blogs that I feel deserve them.

So. Here goes, seven (very) random things...

My job involves looking after a number of old listed buildings, It's an interesting, rewarding and satisfying career, and at least half the time I genuinely look forward to going to work - I suspect not everyone can say that. However on a day-to-day basis, my general view and aspect is not as pleasant as you might imagine. I oversee a lot of maintenance contractors, so spend a lot of time looking at this kind of thing:

(shudder). Honestly. Put it away, please, I beg you. That's what belt-loops were invented for. No-one needs to spend their working life looking everywhere but at the mooning arse right in front of them. Quite literally your bum is the elephant in the room. No wonder I need to rest my eyes at the weekend in the great outdoors, looking at flowers, fruits & vegetables growing up at the plot.

Now that I've bought up the delicate issue of contractors & inappropriate work-wear, my other bug-bear is contractors who wear boiler suits that are too small. I surely cannot possibly give you a picture for this one, it's not a pleasant sight, and not at all funny.

Really. It isn't.

No, really, I can’t.

I couldn't.

I shouldn't.

Oh alright, go on then:

And then, imagine if you will (because this is where it becomes a bit of an x-rated posting) said contractor having to reach over head-height to carry out a task.

Are you having trouble picturing it?

Allow me to help you out there:

I'm truly sorry - now we all need to go and rest our eyes in the garden. Take 5 minutes - go and look at some other blogs for a while and absorb the beauty of the magnificent tulip flower and magnolia blossom close-up shots and come back to me when you are ready.

Feeling better?

Then I shall go on.

Last night I had the strange dream that I was an Olympic Gold medal swimmer. The reason for my talent was my enormous webbed feet, which gave me the edge over all other competitors. Weird & very vivid. Had to check my feet when I woke up.

They're not webbed, nor are they unusually large. And neither do I smell of chlorine. Or anything else ending in -rine, before you start with the funnies.

Kevin Costner’s Waterworld was on telly last night, I did briefly contemplate watching it, but decided to have an early night instead. That'll explain it.

My all time ever favourite plant colour combination just now* is dark burgundy next to a very bright fresh green:

*see what I did there?

These are on my kitchen windowsill at the moment, and are much adored by me every time I do the washing up. It's a succulent called a Tree Aeonium, next to a ferny plant (which is technically a weed, as I didn't buy or cultivate it - just a seed that blew indoors on a breeze a few years ago and planted itself in the compost of my Money Plant). I like it, so it's stayed.

I'm not exactly known for my sartorial elegance - if it's clean, has no holes and roughly fits, I'll wear it. I can think of lots of things I'd rather be doing than thinking about my appearance.

But if I could grow facial hair, I think I would spend many an hour in front of the mirror sculpting it into weird & wonderful shapes, just because I could:

But as middle age & menopause is probably not that far off (yay! bring it on!!). I could yet become the bearded lady with the wondrous leafy chin.

I like things. My partner calls it clutter. Stuff. Junk. In my way.


I think of it as surrounding myself with objects imbued with meaning - whether it's things bought on holiday, decorative things that I’ve made or bought, or things that I’ve found. They all mean something to me. For example, here are a couple of the things that live on my shed windowsill - a zebra and a 3-legged cat:

Plastic tat to you perhaps. For me, they're things that tell the story of the plot I tend, as I found them while digging it over. After all, what better way of spending 20 minutes in the shed sheltering from a heavy downpour, than to sit there, scratch my chin, tilt my head to one side & ponder "what the hell kind of devil-child chewed the leg off that plastic cat?"

Finally, which is less something revealed about myself, than a question I've been pondering all week. How hard it is to write 7 random things about yourself without revealing too much. Will I ever reveal details about who I am or what I do or where my plot is?

And now on to the list of blogs that I would like to pass these lovely awards on to.

Nina's Gardening Notebook
Hazel Tree
Urban Dirt
Intemperate Edibles
The Inelegant Gardener
Shandy's Dig
Tiny Art Director
The Idiot Gardener

You can accept or ignore the awards as you please, just wanted you to know that I very much enjoy reading your blogs.