Month in Pictures – December

Month in Pictures - December 2008 

Life dried off a little for December and I managed to get down to the plot quite a few times.

The grotty dark nights resulted in a couple of torchlit digging sessions but I also found myself shamed into a day of weeding after passing by on the train and noticing the big blocks off lush green weeds where the onions were supposed to be thriving.

The chard is still dazzling passers by with its jazzy, party coloured, stems. I think the pink is particularly fetching but the orange doesn’t seem to withstand the frost as well as the other shades.

There’s been quite a lot of frost already which has probably sweetened up my swedes and done wonders for the brussels. The bracing wind doesn’t have a lot going for it though, it has shredded my polythene greenhouse and although I’ve patched it up and folded it away in the shed, I don’t hold out much hope for it lasting another season. I hope Wilkinsons survive the economic downturn at least until the summer, so that I can buy another one.

The wind also lifted a big patch of felt off my shed roof but fortunately Lynn is a roofer par excellence and shimmied up on top and sorted the job out with style. Given the number of nails used, there is not a chance that it will be shifting again, it’ll stand up to hurricane Katrina should it need to.

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What a Scorcher

I reckon this is going to end up being a picture post, I’m far too shattered to string words together. The day was glorious but after about 6 hours on the plot my skin is tightly shriveling with the sunburn and I need to spend the next month in a vat of E45 cream.

Jungle

My seedlings have been going crazy in Shakti’s front room nursery, the beans are threatening to smother everything in sight and the tomatoes need staking. None of these things go well with toddler sized birthday parties so they need to go. Not wanting to shock them into submission with an immediate relocation to the outside world, I’ve been hunting down one of those mini greenhouse affairs to act as a coldframe. I spotted something even better from Wilkinsons though, a full on walk-in greenhouse complete with staging for £40.

Experimental Peas

Considerable rearranging was required to squeeze it onto the plot. The compost bins were pushed to the corner shaded by the hideous ivy which seems like the best spot for them considering nothing else will grow there except for slugs. More problematic was the wigwam I planted up last weekend with some 7 year old experimental peas. It’s quite a palaver trying to retrieve ungerminated green orbs from a patch of soggy soil.

Given my unchallenged bodging tendencies, I’m quite surprised but pleased to say, the greenhouse went up relatively well. It only has one little tear in the polythene and I’m sure that existed before I took it out of the box. I’ve piled the edges up with soil, staked, pegged, clipped and tied down anything threatening to flap and if it’s still there tomorrow morning I may well do a little jig.

New Greenhouse

I’m going to plant the tomatoes in grow bags around the base – anything to try and keep the structure anchored, and I think the chilli peppers and aubergines will be overjoyed.

Summer Cabbage

Before the construction started we (I had Shakti’s help today) transplanted the greyhound cabbages from the seed bed and sowed a row of yellow french beans. We also managed to acquire a load of broken paving slabs from the site skip and have a veritable highway laid out between beds. Unfortunately the new compost bin and greenhouse layout, blocks all access to the bottom of the plot. I haven’t a cat in hells chance of accessing the peas if they decide to crop.

We left with a sack of multi-coloured delights for tea – Ruby Chard, Broad Bean tips and some of the overwintered onions.

Hungry Gap?

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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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