Archive for September, 2013

A Different Eye ?


A Little Mayflower Business

I am planning to be absent for a while.

Planning to swing from cloud to cloud

Across the waters and

Along forest and city trails

On da Vinci’s imagination,

Tesla’s invisible lines.

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Anyone for Hallowe’en?


This “beauty” got lost somewhere when I was posting about the allotment open day. My technology is not good at the best of times, but when I am excited/a little scared/ and blogging mistakes may occur. There was a scarecrow competition on the site (great idea!) and plotholders were very creative, ingenious and inventive … I couldn’t help black-and-whiting this one (and listening to a Deep Purple track “Vincent Price (is back again))

… and yes, I know this scarecrow bears little resemblance to Vincent Price or any of his roles, but any reason to listen to the Purps is good enough for me…

Write text here…

Where There’s Muck



We seem to be in the middle (hopefully) of an “Indian summer” ( I do remember being told why warm spells in British autumns are called this, but cannot remember the detail: something to do

with the Empire/colonies perhaps?).

Blackberries, autumn fruiting raspberries, tomatoes and squashes (pumpkins and butternuts now that the courgettes that grew into Monsters have – finally – exhausted themselves)everywhere: extending the season wonderfully. Leaves just starting to turn, especially noticeable on hawthorn here, perhaps the first.

Oh, and the weeds: this year, thanks to years of labour (!!!) mostly annual.

I am not including self-set potatoes which are a crop unto themselves this year, but some of the annual weeds and self sown plants are also thriving.

Borage! Ever grown borage? Marvellous plant; young leaves good in salads and sandwiches, slightly cucumber taste; beautiful, abundant flowers attracting pollinators and pest-predators, architecturally significant form and great on the compost heap!


Because alongside the harvesting comes the weeding and the re-digging (in our case for autumn sown broad beans, over-wintering onions (yellow and red) and, just maybe, garlic. All supplied by our site shop,

which has the best local prices (thanks guys and gals). And the weeds? Straight on to the compost heap, with kitchen scraps, grass cuttings, collected animal manure and shredded paper.

Our compost heaps have been productive and, nicely hot at the moment are being re-built (contents of the last heap are in the trenches already.

But, on one plot, at least, thoughtful planting of nasturtiums (distraction for the cabbage white butterflies) are glorious, winding up around the compost bin (made, as most of ours are from pallets.

Nasturtiums:  so simple to grow and so glorious in low-light, misty conditions like this morning.

DSC01598     DSC01599  DSC01600  DSC01601


So, green manure advice anyone ??




Open Day at a Universe Somehere Near You

Beautiful sunny day today. Ideal for visiting a not-too-distant open day…

and to capture some unusual photos.

What passes for ground cover (the never ending task, like painting the …hey,  hang on just a minute)DSC01573

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Gaffer and the Tomberries

This became a day of forage and incidental harvesting. And all the more fun for it.

Initially I was intending to get to burning the dried out (I hoped!) potato haulms. Friday is the one day each week that we are allowed to have bonfires on site – and, haven’t you guessed it already, it nearly always seems to rain on Fridays!

But this Friday was clear.  So the fire was duly lit. In a newly commandeered oil drum, freshly holed for the purpose.

Then a few rows of digging: the start of the long preparation for over-wintering and the clearing of space for blackcurrant cuttings, over-wintering onions and broad bean sowings.

And a general inspection. The hedgerow looks spectacular: Laid four years ago from a twenty plus feet tall hawthorn and elder mix I took it down to five feet. It has now fully filled out the spaces and grows lustily. Hazel whips planted to plug gaps are established, showing big soft blousy leaves. The hollies, a single oak, a mock orange, dogwoods and a laburnum are also maturing well. But this week the rose hips and blackberries are the real stars. They are crowded with fruit, looking gorgeous and dark.

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Balance and Borrowing

Along with some other willing – if slightly crazy (and in some worlds that is the exact same thing, believe me)  – allotmenteers I have been involved in raising a project that was in some danger of dying the inglorious scrubbing-brush death.

Levelling, slabbing out and putting in raised beds. Five of the beauties have been transformed from a paper dream into reality.

But it has been mentally challenging, juggling the logistics, materials, personalities and finances. Physically demanding too. Lifting, holding, carrying, shovelling, mixing, barrowing, even the waiting!

But a rhythm became established. And – to be honest – now that has gone with the completion of the phase, I kind of (remember the “crazy phrase in the first sentence?) miss it all.

It was quite the opposite of working the soil, tending the plants, gathering the harvest; although that has its own special moments of course. But this was cement-dust-on-gloves and concrete saw buzz noise intensity. A team being moulded and working well together, model of cooperation and growing mutual respect.

… and it came to mind, that these very allotments were once the pride and joy of men who worked long, hard hours. Down the coal mine. In the iron foundry. In the brickyard.

And, getting back to the less-pressured round of turning the soil, digging in home-made compost, is such a different way of life. And, for the very first time in my life I realised how much joy these manual workers would get from their plots of land. On top of producing food for home of course. I saw how the allotments: not any old allotments, but the very ones we are cultivating now – in the GPS/mobile phone and Voyager leaving the solar system twenty first century – would have meant to those who were here in Victorian times.

In the last century, my own great-uncle Ted was a coal miner and he always derived such great pleasure from his back garden greenhouse. He proudly grew and showed one and all his tomatoes and chrysanthemums. Bright flowers and warmth after the dark, eat-the earth shifts down the pit. How the sun must have felt to him in his wooden framed greenhouse on the best of days.
Conditions in factories were hard and grim too. And many men kept racing pigeons. I stood for a moment, mulling over this new perception,  in the warm autumn air and imagined how, after days (or nights) in the dark factories, mines  and mills they treasured the chance to look at the wide skies. The thinking made me feel both small and grand; humble and proud.

I am doing my bit, borrowing for  a time a little bit of history, a piece of land which owes so much to those who went before … and will, I am sure go on to mean something in the future, though it almost certainly will not be for me to say exactly what.

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