End of Week One

Pigeon Thwarter

My parents are heading back to Yorkshire today but we were up early enough to cram in a quick trip to the lotty. We needed to see if the shed contraption was still in existence and construct a brassica protecting cloche. Talking to a few locals on the site yesterday indicated that my biggest threat was going to come from pigeons, so huge netting contraptions are required.

Mum with Fork

My mum can’t resist the urge to dig when she’s spots a weedy patch so the trip was extended as she attacked the last remaining heap. Over the last few days we’ve only managed to escape from the allotment by whining insistently until my mum finally gives in and hands over the fork. Anyone with digging requirements would do well to try and attract my mum to their plot!

Me and dad filled the time by creating another architectural wonder and planting a few rows of onion sets. I’ve also snuck a row of rocket under the enviromesh – I had a small bag left over from my last allotment days, not sure I can hold out too much hope for a massive of crop from year 2001 seeds though.

All in all, I think it’s been an incredibly successful first week. My folks have been relentless labourers and shown that weedy patch absolutely no mercy. I couldn’t have hoped to have any crops planted this year if it wasn’t for their help.

Side by side

Post to Twitter

Gothic Parents

We were up bright early to make the most of the late summer sunshine and to raid the allotment association shop of all its goodies.

Gothic parents

After directing mum to the worst heap of weeds seen outside of the amazonian rainforest, dad and I headed off in search of cheap sheds. We arrived back a couple of hours later, with a fake shed box type thing, and found a somewhat exhausted and sunburned mother.

Here they are, modeling in front of the shedbox – very Richmond Gothic.

This was a really hard working day, we dug over most of this half of the plot, dad poisoned the other half and I planted myself a crop of plastic bottles.

Orange Peel

Post to Twitter

Day 3 – Firestarter

firestarter

I’m not a particularly skilled arsonist, a heap of dried weed roots, decades old piles of the Evening Standard and the key ingredient – lighter fuel and a zippo. Still no flippin flames. I would be useless with the survivalists flint and tinder method. I did eventually get a hint of a flame but as you can see, I didn’t manage to make much of an impact on the ever growing pile of crud.

I took this week off to try an get a head start on this allotment (and to get some long runs in) but unfortunately my immune system decided it was an ideal time to take a break too. I’ve got a rotten cold and am therefore struggling to make much of an impact of the plot. I’ve sent out an emergency parental visitation order though, weather permitting my parents will be here at the weekend to lick this place into shape!

worm

I managed a bit of soil tickling today and uncovered this worm who is clearly feeling as sorry for itself as I am. Quite cute for a wriggly thing.

One task I can manage from my sick bed is allotment planning combined with seed ordering. I’ve got a couple of bulbs of garlic, 2 bags of onion sets and a pack of broad beans, winging their way to me now. Just about the only things available for me to plant this late on. Hopefully I’ll find a source of spring cabbage plants before its too late as well. Oh and I also fancy installing a raspberry fence which is another autumnal task. Dunno how it got to be autumn so soon, I’ve still been holding out for a summer. Can’t hide from the seasons when you’re gardening though.

I paced the plot out today and it seems I have a 40ft * 40ft plot – jolly handy having foot sized trainers. I drew up a temporary, back of a fag packet, plan today, based primarily on a stash of flag stones that I’ve spotted in a corner – hopefully they are free for all but I suppose I better check before I nab them.

Allotment Plan

Post to Twitter

Day 2 – In a Bind

Ouch! My hamstrings have knotted up and my lower back is screaming out – all after a paltry 2 hours tugging with the relentless bindweed yesterday. I didn’t even start any digging, that joy was reserved for today. No wonder they say gardening is good exercise, I’m going to have to go a little easy on the back breaking work if I hope to complete the Great North run in a fortnight though.

Thought I’d take some shots of the opposition:

Allotment Competition 1

I think I should be there in a couple of weeks or so!

Today, I did a bit more scrabbling with the surface weeds but tried not to spread my attentions across the whole plot. I’ve uncovered a few fruit bushes and some scraggy strawberry plants so if I can clear a small corner these can be nurtured for another growing season.

So me and the new fork were introduced to the soil for the first time. It’s pretty dusty stuff and I inhaled a good load of it as the wind blew in the general direction of my face every time I turned it. I bet this will be good for onions though, I’m looking forward to growing some prize winning, weighty bulbs this year, in contrast to my usual pickling size specimens.

Bindweed Roots

Check out the bindweed roots in the tilth though. God damn its vicious stuff! There is as much under the soil as there was on the surface. In fact there’s probably more. I’ve patiently listened to two old timers inform me that the only way to remove such pernicious weeds is to double dig to the depth of 5 foot, taking care to remove every single last shred of root as you go. Let me just say – this is not going to happen.

Much as I would like to be organic, I am going to go back to my chemist routes and employ some science. Roundup TM will be invited onto the plot for one weekend only, to decimate anything with a leaf. I’ll then spend the rest of the year feeling guilty and trying to pretend I have organic principles, but at least I’ll have some time to plant stuff!

So a little progress was made today, actual cultivation is in evidence and the heap of weeds is growing at an alarming rate. Time to practice my fire making skills soon.

Day 2 progress

Post to Twitter

Day 1 – Unwrapping the Allotment

How exciting. I’ve been in London for about 5 years now and have finally reached the top of an allotment waiting list.

I turned up at the site with a fresh pair of gardening gloves eagerly awaiting the unveiling of my specific plot. How high were the weeds going to be? Or was it possible that it would be handed over to me in near to perfect condition by a relocating keen gardener?

15092007225

The photo pretty much speaks for itself, don’t you think? Minimum of 6 months complete neglect while an army of bindweed and couch grass ravaged the zone. Still, it will be a long time before I enjoy a plate of fresh home grown peas if I get disheartened this early. Besides the site chairman kept slapping my “strong” arms and insisting that I wouldn’t let him down with this plot, so I had to remain enthusiastic and upbeat until he left me alone to survey my land.

I nipped down to the Allotment association shop and bought a fork, collected a seed catalogue for later and then hot footed it back to draw up a plan of action. I stumbled across my square patch wondering where the heck to start, risked spraining my ankles on untold hazards and managed to dislodge a wasps nest. Great! I desperately need a shed, a chair and a trangia for boiling water, a job of this magnitude requires careful consideration over a cuppa tea.

After two hours battling with bindweed I manged to uncover a plum tree and create this heap of vicious perennial weeds. That’ll have to be enough for one day as I have a wedding to attend now.

15092007231

Post to Twitter