Archive for 2009

Bin fire

Bin fireHad a quick binfire yesterday, and only just in time. It’s pouring again, and for the foreseeable.

I’ve been nervous about fires ever since a moment of inattention almost turned into a catastrophe. I decided to have a fire on the allotment in July… during that drought heatwave of 3 or 4 years ago. On a roastingly hot, windy day.

I’m sure you’re way ahead of me: I turned my back for a few seconds to do something, only to find that the little fire I’d started had been blown into a raging inferno.

And when I say inferno, I mean it: this was a huge, dangerous conflagration that took hold of some brambles and went nuclear. The flames were 4m high, and getting higher. And the noise – crackling, whooshing, hissing, roaring. Terrifying.

My pathetic efforts to douse it were utterly useless. I managed only to singe off half an eyebrow and set my trouser leg on fire.

By the grace of God, an allotment neighbour happened to be watering with a hose and came to my rescue. But it still took us 20 mins to put the fire out. I was pathetically, weepingly grateful. For a few minutes, I’d been the man responsible for burning down everyone’s allotments and several neighbouring houses.

I could see the headlines spinning in my fevered imagination: “Soilman Fucks Up Utterly”.

So I’m now cautious to the point of paranoia. Fires only happen in bins, and I stare at them so hard I barely blink. Where fires are concerned, dear Reader, I recommend Serious Care and Attention.

Here endeth the lesson.

Posted on 29th December 2009
Under: Uncategorized | 11 Comments »

Celeriac update

Celeriac foliage Celeriac root

Well, I survived it. Thank Heaven. Actually, this year was quite a good one… and I don’t say that too often about Christmas.

Here’s the celeriac update I promised. My high hopes at the start of the year resulted in a row of shite. Well, at least this year they weren’t stolen (what kind of brain-dead thief would swipe these?).

As you can see, the foliage looks promising… but there’s no bulb underneath. Reason: the driest summer I can ever remember. Celeriac is a swampy plant that demands damp soil. And this year, I simply couldn’t provide.

Posted on 26th December 2009
Under: Roots | 13 Comments »

A day out in midwinter

Arbour at Hampton CourtThe ground is frozen hard as iron today, so digging impossible (thank God).

Thus had a wander around Hampton Court Palace. In summer, it’s black with tourists and makes you wish you’d brought a machine gun. In winter, delightful. Hardly a soul about.

Hampton Court PalaceWe molested swans, poked ducks with sticks dipped in dog turd and generally availed ourselves of the usual amusements of a sunny day out in midwinter.

On the way out, there was the additional pleasure of watching brain-dead, overweight holidaymakers falling on their arses on the ghastly ice rink. It looks nice in the publicity pix, but don’t be fooled: more than 10 minutes wearing the rented skates and you need your feet amputating. Plus they pack you on the (slushy) ice as tight as penguins in Antarctica.

But hey, it’s a nice day out if you like breathing other folks’ BO and repeatedly falling in a cold puddle.

Posted on 20th December 2009
Under: Winter | 6 Comments »

Allotment blog goes commercial

Allotment blog search

Shock news: Many visitors to this blog come via an “allotment blog” search in Google. Obviously I’d love a slice of the “midget sex” market, too, but for now I’m stuck with allotments.

This is not a sexy Search market. Even in the peak gardening interest period (early Spring), “allotment blog” gets stuck into Google just 100 times a day. And all by Brits (source: Google insights for search).

Some of you have been blogging about allotmenteering a lot longer than me, and you’ll know what a tumbleweed trap ‘allotments’ is. It’s pathetically parochial (nobody outside the UK knows what an allotment is) and until recently it was old blokes in flat caps who’d never even seen a computer, let alone touched one.

But wow, how things change. Check it out: there are now some folks paying for Search advertising on “allotment blog”. Astonishing.

They’re mostly advertising for start-up community gardening sites, no doubt supported (eventually) by advertising from the industry. And good luck to them. It’s lovely to see anyone giving a shit about allotments… especially now there’s (apparently) a few quid in them there hills.

But you know what? I thought I’d just take this opportunity to mention – while the allotmenteering space is commercialising all around us – that if you don’t want to pay for advice, or be advertised at in return for the privilege, you don’t have to.

There’s a huge number of garden bloggers out there who, like me, do it all for free (sad bastards) and will always try to help anyone who asks… gratis. Check out my blogroll to find them.

We do it for love, laughs and a genuine desire to help (plus a bit of boasting and vainglory, on my part, when something goes right). So take advantage.

Just one small cost: You sometimes have to read a lot of shit about midget sex.

Posted on 16th December 2009
Under: Rants, Uncategorized | 10 Comments »

Christmas cheer

This morning I’m starting to look forward to my Christmas holiday. Which is like looking forward to sex with a dwarf. It’s probably better than no sex… but depressing and awfully short.

Actually, I’ve decided that anticipating holidays is the most enjoyable part. The holiday itself is over in seconds, and you spend at least the first five days of it waking at 6am as if it’s a work day (I do, anyway; my body clock is as inflexible and rigidly programmed as a North Korean public holiday).

The Christmas holiday has a special angst, of course. There’s the expense of gift giving… and receiving (“Gosh. A musical sock drawer tidy. Just what I always wanted”).

This year, though, is special. In fact, it’s a triumph. By dint of quiet diplomacy over 12 months, I have delicately concluded a no-gift pact with everyone I know – even family.

The momentous outcome is simply this: For the first time in 42 years, I will be buying no Christmas gifts whatsoever. Yep, you read right. That means no shopping, no queueing, no shit.

So think on that while you’re trying to decipher the inarticulate grunting of a spotty 18-year-old cashier clerk in John Lewis, or hovering over a skid-marked public toilet seat after getting caught short in Tesco.

In horrible contrast to all your suffering, I shall be ensconced at home watching porn (perhaps Christmas-themed – “Jiggle Belles” etc) and stuffing my face with Leonidas’ best.


PS All comedy Christmas porn movie titles gratefully received

Posted on 15th December 2009
Under: Rants, Uncategorized, Winter | 9 Comments »

Manuring and digging

Full plotGetting there. I’m still weeks behind, but hey. Nobody’s perfect.

Given a few dry weekends, I should be able to sort the digging and manuring by the end of January. The biggest challenge now is finding room for another compost heap. My bin’s stuffed.

Anyone out there able to put their hand on their heart and say they’re fully ready for next season?

Posted on 10th December 2009
Under: Winter | 5 Comments »

Another tomato problem

Some rather grim news about a new tomato bug that’s arrived in the UK.

Tuta Absoluta sounds like an Austin Powers love interest, but it’s clearly going to be yet another source of heartbreak for the tomato grower.

I’ve already given up growing tomatoes on my allotment – blight strikes down everyone’s crop every year. Now I’m thinking twice about growing them at home, too.

Anyone actually encountered this problem where you grow? Just how bad is it?

Posted on 7th December 2009
Under: Diseases, Pests | 6 Comments »

No gardening, so… flamingos. Yeah, you read right

Pink flamingoes

The non-gardening theme continues. Reason? Still pissing.

(Dear God, when will it end?)

Took a daytrip to the Slimbridge Wetlands and Wildfowl Trust today. In the rain (but of course). Didn’t have time to see it all, but enjoyed the flamingos; the first non-grey thing I’ve seen outdoors for weeks.

Posted on 5th December 2009
Under: Uncategorized | 5 Comments »

Drowned rat

To adopt an expression more familiar to my US readers: The weather sucks a big one.

Jeez, but it’s rained here. I don’t live in Flood Central, thank God, but I’m living like a rat in a hole. Can’t go out without getting soaked, whatever the day, whatever the hour.

The most irritating consequence is that my vegetable plot has had zero attention for almost three weeks; the only times I’ve not been working, it’s been pissing. Extra hard.

So many apologies for the absence, on this gardening blog, of any gardening.

Posted on 3rd December 2009
Under: Rants, Winter | 7 Comments »

Sweet pumpkin pie – yuck

sucrine du berryIt’s OK folks, it’s back to gardening today. You can come out from behind the sofa. I’ve pulled myself together.

*Audible sighs of collective relief*

I’m pretty chuffed with my unusual pumpkins. As Barb (sorry, no link provided) so brilliantly commented on my original post about these, they are indeed Sucrine du Berry. Must be – they look nothing like any others I’ve seen.

Pumpkin cut in half

It’s a traditional old French variety – and a delicious one, as it turns out (sweeter than other pumpkins I’ve tried).

Probably not the best for savoury recipes, but no doubt brilliant for pumpkin pie, in the American style.

Shame I don’t like pumpkin pie, huh?

Posted on 29th November 2009
Under: Cucurbits | 8 Comments »