Archive for September, 2008

Design an allotment superhero!

Superhero Soilman!

Couldn’t let Amanda’s kids go to all the trouble of designing a real-life Soilman Superhero without showing the results (with one or two minor tweaks – couldn’t resist the shield and silly headgear).

Unfortunately it leaves me no further forward on Manure Man, my crime-fighting allotment alter ego. Can’t draw him myself – I have all the artistic talent of Jackson Pollock.

Hence a challenge:

Is there anyone out there who can draw, and fancies creating a suitably tongue-in-cheek Manure Man?

As regular readers know, this blog has a perilously low taste threshold – so pretty much anything goes.

Email me any doodlings (any pic format) and I’ll post the best entries. May even come up with a prize…

Posted on 27th September 2008
Under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Back in the shit

Manuring the beds It’s that time of year again. From now until Christmas, I’ll be pretty much covered in horseshit 24/7.

I try to ensure it stays on the allotment. But I daren’t carry passengers in the car during autumn, and I’m ashamed to admit that my bella figura at work has occasionally been compromised by an all-too-visible dangleberry clinging to my shirt.

Were I to wear my underpants outside my trousers and adopt a brown cape, I could slide seamlessly into an alter ego: ManureMan.

Posted on 25th September 2008
Under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

Wheely infuriating

Wheelbarrow wheelI’m a cretin. I let this tubeless tyre get so flat that it’s come off the rim.

Now, of course, I can’t reinflate it. Don’t have that funky tool that runs round the edge and forces it back into place. Solution: Detach wheel and take to QuickFit.

… unless anyone’s got any great ideas?

Posted on 23rd September 2008
Under: Uncategorized | 7 Comments »

Shamed into seed saving

Leek flower dried for seed saving

OK, I get the message: Save seed to save agriculture for post-oil humanity.

Attended the Food Bloggers Get Together in Oxford organised by Patrick and Steph yesterday (read Emma’s typically excellent account of the day).

Wonderful to meet all you fellow bloggers, although shaming to discover that my sporadic and dilatory seed-saving isn’t good enough. In a fit of guilt, I rushed out today to harvest these leek seeds. Ben at Real Seeds: I promise to do better in future.

Wish I’d had time to talk to everyone. Perhaps next year??

Posted on 21st September 2008
Under: Alliums | 6 Comments »

Who’s eating my beet??

Beetroot nibbled by miceThis is a depressing sight. Some bastard has been nibbling my beetroot.

I have a whole new row of these ready, and I was looking forward to harvesting them… when I found this. On every bloody plant.

I suspect mice. The tiny teeth marks are fairly diagnostic.

I could weep. This season is my worst ever. I’ve never had such a poor harvest and/or such rapacious weeds.

Posted on 17th September 2008
Under: Pests, Roots | 5 Comments »

Reclaiming the plot

Overgrown plot

Responding to Pumpkin Soup’s invitation to ‘fess up, here is my own embarrassing little secret: The horribly overgrown rear of my allotment.

Shamefully, this is the same area I cleared of weeds back in July. I got lazy and it went native… again. Only this time, the brambles got involved as well as the couch grass.

Result: Pure hell. Spent yesterday clearing it and am now scratched to hell by thorns.

What a misery this ‘summer’ has been.

Posted on 15th September 2008
Under: Weeds | 4 Comments »

Allotment King

Autumn King carrots

Now that’s what I call a carrot.

if there’s a better late carrot than Autumn King (here’s where I get my seeds), please tell me about it. But I reckon it’s the daddy.

Mercifully I have two 4m rows of these and the remains of the shitty white carrots. They should take us through to late autumn or even Christmas.

Less good news is that I’ve lost control of the weeds and brambles at the back of my plot. It’s rained so much and I’ve had so little time. Getting it shipshape again is going to take hours and break my bloody back.

So naturally I’m putting it off until tomorrow.

Posted on 13th September 2008
Under: Roots | 4 Comments »

Crappiest gherkins in the West

This is the sum total of my gherkin crop for 2008.

It’s deeply, deeply shitty. And wretchedly unfair. I did everything right, but the weather crapped on me.

I’ve just got back from a short trip to Russia, where the sun was shining and the temperature was 25C. Cloudless skies, floating blossom, the lazy buzzing of bees, etc etc.

Then I get back to yet more British floods. I find myself questioning, not for the first time, the sanity of my forebears.

After all, these are the people who rowed across the English Channel in approx 4000 BC and decided to stay.

They must have arrived in July, during the only hot summer of the last seven millennia.

Posted on 8th September 2008
Under: Cucurbits | 7 Comments »

When do I dig Jerusalem artichokes?

Jerusalem artichokesI knew they’d get big, but I wasn’t prepared for this.

The Jerusalem artichokes are about 8ft tall, and still growing. I’m told they’ll flower soon, but I’m not holding my breath: the UK weather has been beyond awful. Even by our low, low standards.

To be honest, I don’t know when to harvest them, or how to know they’re ready. Never grown them before.

Anyone out there got any top fartichoke expertise to guide me?

(PS Any hints for reducing the wind effect would also be most welcome. It’s like castor oil without the follow-through.)

Posted on 3rd September 2008
Under: Peas and beans, Roots | 12 Comments »