Partners in Grime

Too crisp a day to go to the allotment yesterday. Took a fine walk instead. Started off in warm low fog, the sun a pale white disc occasionally visible. Water pooled in the ruts left by the massive tractors that rule this agricultural landscape looking somehow beautiful in the mists, reflections, floating leaves and depths.


Along the canal towpath and a low level wind started to frog-march the wisps of fog across level ploughed land, the horizon seeming to sparkle gloriously, high blue skies visible at last. There is a fine quality to light on days like this and it was good to be walking.


But a new day today and things to catch up with on the plot.
More digging. Carefully around the winter vegetables- the distorted roots of parsnips, tasting lovely after some early frosts have worked some kind of chemical magic on the sugars inside them. Celeriac, which hasn’t really flourished but we will leave in to give a little more time. Last of the carrots (most successfully grown in a former incinerator filled with sieved soil. Beetroot that lean over to one side as I dig alongside them and fetch young foxgloves out of their row. Japanese mooli radish: we are growing these for the first time and take our first harvest today. Leeks rather smaller than last year, but Dave says we can take one of his. He’s always a friendly guy, grows good sized plants and very modest with it.
The remains of pumpkin and courgette plants are pulled up and piled onto the compost heap, along with annual weeds cleared from the digging. This year I’m adding compost to the top of the soil as  a dressing rather than double digging it into trenches. But where I’m digging layers of compost put into trenches last year remain. The digging will mix this in with the regular soil of course. But here and there, colonising these layers are brandling worms.
Elsewhere earthworms are abundant. The day is pleasantly warm, the earth too. I am happy to see so many of my co-workers, fellow tunnelers. They stretch unconcerned as I turn them on to the surface, take some time to push and pull their muscular frames back into their element.
We have our seed order completed, the association runs a “shop” and seed potatoes, onions, garlic and shallots can be ordered through this – with a hearty discount.
Pot marigolds spill delightfully out from the borders and spaces we put them in (to encourage natural insect predators) and forget me not plants are spreading in the raised beds. Lovely bright, cheerful plants to have around – but we are going to have to pull some of these up –and, with a wry smile- I realise there will be many self-seeded marigolds around the plot next year.
But the full bright orange target-eyes of these old fashioned hardy plants in November? A blessing indeed.
It’s a good morning’s work, getting routine tasks under way. There is the psychological tipping point to reach, where there is less to dig and tidy up than has been done. I do believe that this year I am near to the tipping point much earlier than I have ever been … but just a minute: we have a project to take up a large patch which has been raspberries for six or more years. That will take some work as they are growing in strimmed grassland, autumn fruiting raspberries appearing to thrive on neglect.
I remind myself that one of the things I love about being a plotholder is that here is always something there to get on with.

As we prepare to leave there is an energetic robin bouncing on the raised bed where the courgettes and out door tomatoes have been cleared, and on the extreme back-bud-already edges of the dominant ash tree across the road a bridge of patient starlings wait for us to leave. I have no doubt they are there to snatch whatever remains on the surface when we are  gone: worms beware!
16/11/2012

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Thanks for the mention mate. Mr.CBB

    Reply

  2. Posted by Paul on November 17, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    No worries, any way the message can be got over is a bonus, the whole recycling/re-using/repairing thing has got a lot going for it; combined with the adventure and fun and exercise of growing your own – win-win.

    Reply

  3. […] Muck, Line and Thinker- Turning Leaves Into Compost […]

    Reply

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