Archive for August, 2008

Death by potato

Maincrop potatoes

Looked at the weather and realised today would be the last chance to dig my maincrop potatoes (if you’ve not done this before, here’s how). So I spent four hours in the sun digging and drying about 15 tonnes of Arran Victory and Desirée.

It nearly killed me.

Posted on 30th August 2008
Under: Potatoes | 5 Comments »

Walcheren winter: primed for April

Walcheren winter cauliflower

Looks a bit scrappy, I know. Bloody weeds. They’re like gremlins: one drop of water and they double in size and turn seriously nasty.

These will be pretty big by the end of September, and with luck they’ll head in April. Cauliflowers all year round!

Posted on 27th August 2008
Under: Brassicas | 3 Comments »

Watering in the deluge

Posted on 25th August 2008
Under: Brassicas, Peas and beans | 6 Comments »

The bitch list

Pink gladiolusIt does look pretty on the allotment if you get there early.

I’m pretty much sleepless these days. Age, I guess. Can’t sit (bad back), can’t stand (ditto), can’t sleep.

Oh, and now I can’t eat.

BUT, like a DSS Incapacity Benefit assessor, I’m determined to focus on what I can do, viz:

  • Whinge
  • Gripe
  • Bitch
  • Complain

I’ll be practising a lot on this blog. I know you’ll understand.

After all, it’s important that people be encouraged to develop their talent to its full potential.

Posted on 23rd August 2008
Under: Flowers, Rants | 3 Comments »

Soilman’s life: a bowl of cherries

cherriesNo, I didn’t grow these. Wish I had.

But they’ve become an important symbol of my future, because I recently discovered I have high cholesterol. Probably what caused my father to die in his 50s, though nobody knew it at the time.

It’s a pisser, because I don’t eat mountains of junk (er, hello!? I’m an allotmenteer!). Bitterness aside, though, it has two major effects: Good and Bad.

The Good: I have to eat shit loads of fruit. So sod the expense – life really IS a bowl of cherries henceforth.

The Bad: What the bloody hell am I going to do with three 5m rows of potatoes grown specifically for making great chips?

Posted on 20th August 2008
Under: Rants | 6 Comments »

Vegetable quiz

A small allotment quiz for you. What do the following three questions have in common:

  • Why aren’t white carrots more popular?
  • Why aren’t purple carrots more popular?
  • Why aren’t yellow beetroot more popular?

The correct answer gets… well, nothing. Which is the only kind of prize worth competing for.

Posted on 17th August 2008
Under: Roots | 12 Comments »

Sunlit childhoods, and other unreliable memoirs

The corn’s so close I can almost taste it. Sadly it needs about another week before we can scoff it.

What a weird season this has been. Such a cold April, so everything was delayed. Then a crazy warm patch, followed by this relentless rain and disappointment.

Come to think of it, that pretty much describes an average British summer. All we need now is the gorgeous September to complete the picture.

Just takes a few extra bad and/or extra good seasons to distort one’s perception. Memory is so fickle.

For instance, I lived in France 20 years ago. Since then, I’ve been committed to the kind of rosy, even utopic, view of France that only 20-year-old happy memories can sustain.

Then, recently, I found myself hunting for an open shop in rural France. On a Sunday.

If this means nothing to you, I’ll leave it to Francophiles of your acquaintance to explain why it’s a place you don’t want to go.

All I’ll say is that was the day I discovered that beating within me is the heart of a psychopathic serial killer. Who enjoys growing cauliflowers.

Memory. Not worth a rat’s arse.

Posted on 13th August 2008
Under: Sweetcorn | 4 Comments »

Sow, weed and heap

pattypan courgettesAt this time of year, the house feels like a farm shop. There are vegetables everywhere.

The pattypan courgettes have gone berserk. We can’t keep up. So the traditional question, “What to do with courgettes?”, is upon us.

The traditional answers – chutney, frittata etc – just make me depressed. Been there, done that.

So sod it. I’m composting the buggers. And I feel totally liberated.

Posted on 11th August 2008
Under: Cucurbits | 7 Comments »

Curds away!

Arty cauliflower shot

Biggest allotment cauliflower of the year… so far. About 25 more still to come, and I’m drowning in them. The freezer hasn’t seen so much action since last year’s bean glut.

Talking of which, the beans are also going bananas. Gotta love the glut after a poor start to the season, but I’m beginning to lose it here.

Posted on 9th August 2008
Under: Brassicas | 3 Comments »

Welcome to new look Soilman!

After weeks of cocking about and cocking it up, herewith the all-new Soilman allotment website.

Well, it’s not THAT new; regular visitors will recognise the colour and design threads common to the old site. I’ve worked up this new look to give more space for pictures and videos. I was getting cramped by the old 350px measure.

Also new is that I’ve switched to WordPress, which I’m still learning. So do let me know if anything doesn’t work, or if there any browser display issues etc.

Please note the new URL, ie The old site and email will work for a while yet, but do please update bookmarks and links etc.

I hope you like it as much as I do!

Posted on 4th August 2008
Under: Peas and beans, Uncategorized | 14 Comments »