Going Hungry

Pea Sticks

I gave myself a day off the running so I could enjoy another leisurely session on the plot. I carried on where I left off yesterday and weeded most of the remaining beds. The peas are getting a bit lanky as well so I stuck some titchy sticks in to keep them on the straight and narrow til the weather becomes more stable and I can remove the mesh cover. There were quite a few empty stations where the peas either didn’t germinate or were swiped by meeces so I popped in a few spare seeds, hopefully they’ll come along soon enough and pad out the row.

Before I came down to the allotment this morning, I passed by Shakti’s for breakfast. She posed the question “If we ran out of money tomorrow, what would we live off from your plot?” About 3 months ago she sowed the pea seeds that I supported above and can’t quite believe that we aren’t eating fresh garden peas yet. I don’t thinks she’s altogether too impressed with the DIY food malarkey, life is just a little more instantaneous down at Tescos.

Hardly Self Sufficient

On arrival I surveyed the crops with a hungry mind but was somewhat disillusioned. I think the only currently edible produce is cabbage and some other critter already seems to have eaten way more than I will ever get to enjoy. Don’t these look like a pitiful bunch?

So in answer to the question, I think we would survive for about a week on limp cabbage leaf. Life would then get tough unless I could find an inspiring recipe for roasted bind weed and couch grass roots. I’ve got enough of those to keep us cooking on gas til the peas start cropping!

Todays sowing

More seeds went in today as well, I’ve sown half a row of carrots – early nantes that came free with “Grow It” magazine and a full row of parsnips. Both have gone in the space I cleared yesterday by removing the salad leaves.

I’ve also started a batch of aubergine and tomato seeds in individual modules. My flat is no go zone for anything green, within 24 hrs every living form of plant life collapses in an irradiated heap. Quite concerning but I seem to cope unscathed. Anyway, the seeds need to live somewhere warmer and brighter than the shed, but safer than my flat so I’ve sent them to germinate at Shakti’s house. She accepted them willingly so I’ll see what other delicate little seedlings I can pass into her care. She’ll soon discover the joys of DIY food growing.

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Day of the Triffids

London woke to a pretty dreary and overcast day this morning. Not the most inspiring of days and it seemed to push me into the dumps as I arrived at the plot. I haven’t been keeping my eye on the allotment stores recently, the shed was clean out of digestives and my cup of tea just wasn’t as revitalising as usual.

Day of the Triffids

I wandered round the garden sipping tea and imagining the future, a day of the triffids style future where the weeds grow to 6 foot and throttle you as you reach hopelessly for the hoe.

If I’m sweating with dread in February just imagine when the growth really starts to kick off. You have to pull yourself together when the weeds on your plot start to give you daytime terrors. I put the cup down, stopped stressing about the future and just knuckled down to the here and now.

I like gardening, it never fails to ground you.

First strike today went to the old rocket and spicy salad leaves bed. The rocket has been a super provider but has now past its best and the spicy leaves are so overrun with nettle plants that my salads have a tendency to give far more bite than is healthy. Both were whipped out at the roots and plonked in the compost bin. First tidy patch sorted and I have space for something new now.

Cats Cradle

My early planting of broad beans have been very successful, maybe even too successful? They have been pushing at the top of my fleece cloche for a few weeks now and bending at the tips. Today I decided it was time to expose them to the elements and whipped of their toasty covering.

Most of them are flowering so hopefully they wont be traumatized by any more frosts. I spent about an hour tying myself in knots with about 100m worth of twine, fashioning a cats cradle support. There is very little wind protection in that particular spot and the beans are effectively trying to stand tall in a wind tunnel.

Chard

Carried away with the weeding, I whipped off more of the cloches and cleaned around the chard and cabbages.

Everything started to look beautiful again, I began to smile and contemplate my next cuppa and a future decidly more rosy and bountiful than it seemed when I started.

Swift Potato

I finished by planting my first row of spuds! How ridiculously early is that? The traditional date for planting potatoes is Good Friday which this year is particularly early anyway so I’m not sure what possessed to me to anticipate the great day by about a month.

I’ll do my best to keep them cosy and earthed up til summer arrives.

Oh and did I mention that my sweet peas have germinated? What a glorious and uplifting day its been.

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Solar Treat

Another glorious weekend and I managed to sneak two full days on the plot. I was supposed to be out on my long run on Sunday afternoon but I’m finding it increasingly hard to drag myself away from the shed. With weather like this I can stretch out on my bench with my feet on a sack of manure, my back leaning gently against my peach and my face basking in the sun.

No sun bathing for these coy little beauties, they spend their entire lives looking at the ground, I wonder what made them so shy.

Coy

It wasn’t a completely lazy weekend, I spent most of the time digging and now there’s only a small strip left to go before the entire plot will have been given the once over.

Stale Seed Bed

I also prepared a seed bed. I really don’t know why I keep being attracted towards construction jobs, I must be the worlds worst DIY’er. I gathered my scrap planks, chopped to them to size and then nailed them together into a frame of sorts before knocking it and the stakes into the freshly dug ground. As soon as I took the hammer to the stakes the whole frame decided to blow apart. 30 bent nails later I managed to get it to stay together for long enough to step away from the disaster area.

I intend to use it as a stale seed bed for starting off my cabbage and leek plants. I’m not sure how well it well it will do as the shed casts quite a shadow and it only really catches the sun from about 1pm onwards but we’ll see.

My neighbour gave me a good bag of jerusalem artichokes to take home with me. I don’t think I will bother growing any, what a flipping faff they are to peel! I made a carrot and JA soup which was ok but not special enough to repeat, I’ll try roasting the few I have left and see if this leads to any sort of culinary epiphany.

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Paths and Peaches

Great weekend, the sort that requires another weekend to recover from though.

Avalon Pride 4

The widely forecast snow didn’t rear its head in London, in fact Saturday was a gloriously sunny day. I was free in the afternoon so headed off to the plot with my newly delivered peach tree. I bought this from Blackmoor Nurseries and the variety, Avalon Pride, is apparently resistant to leaf curl. If I can plant it against a SW-erly wall I should be rewarded with juicy fruit some years hence.

My shed is approximately SW facing, if you are a glass half full person, so I’ve decided to train it as a fan underneath the bird box. This required some brave and ruthless pruning. The stump you see in the photo is the result of two days of nervous nibbling with the secateurs. It seems such a tragic waste to hack off hard grown branches, especially when the tree cost £25, I’ve already relegated about £10 quids worth to the incinerator.

Today wasn’t such a great day, cold and flippin windy but I managed to get quite a lot done. You’ve got to love sheds, regardless of how bitter the day is, you’ve always got a little retreat. A perfect home from home. Everyone should have a strategically placed shed with a supply of tea bags and digestive biscuits, it’s practically a human rights issue.

So I started with a bit of digging – I still haven’t cleared that peculiar ridge of bindweed and couch grass roots that I mentioned a few weeks back, and then I chose to start building a path.

Allotment path.

At the moment I seem to be wandering haphazardly across the plot, compacting the area I’ve already dug, so I need to add some order. I nicked the bricks from another pre-existing but almost buried path and will need to go on a hunt for suitable hardcore material before I can organise the whole plot properly.

Sweet pea rolls

After a couple of hours hard labour, it was back into the shed to start the sweet pea seeds off in the toilet rolls I’ve been collecting for months.

I don’t get a huge amount of light through the glazed windows, so I hope they don’t get too straggly before it is safe enough to send them outside to face the big bad world.

I’m using one of my old coke bottles as toilet roll specific watering device. It was a heck of a lot harder to construct than you’d imagine – I knocked a nail through the lid after a couple of severe bashes with the hammer but I had one hell of a job removing it again. The plastic on those lids must be about an inch thick!

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