Archive for October, 2009

UK oxymoron: Young farmer

Love this story about Japanese youngsters taking up farming.

As I’ve pointed out before, the average age of UK farmers is 54. We’re clearly going in the same direction as the Japanese. Our imports-to-homegrown food ratio is in the same ballpark.

So where’s the grassroots movement towards sustainability and home-growing here? I’ll tell you: it’s not happening. Not in commercial agriculture, anyway.

In the UK, you’re either a grain baron farming 1,000 EU-subsidised acres with industrial pesticides and fertilisers. Or a mud-spattered smallholder drowning in red tape and struggling to pay the electricity bill.

And all created, ultimately, by urban morons who are happy to pay £15,000 for a new Astra but won’t pay more than £2.50 for a chicken.

It’s totally INSANE.

Posted on 28th October 2009
Under: Rants | 9 Comments »

Food bloggers’ get-together

Some gardening and veg growing types got together in Oxford on Saturday, arranged by the indefatigable Patrick. As ever, I was on the way to somewhere else and had no time. Apologies to all for slinking off in a hurry – this is my life nowadays.

Couldn’t bring the videocamera proper, but shot this brief video with the iPhone; it’s the redoubtable Emma (of AKG Podcast fame) answering questions about keeping chickens. Thanks to Patrick for long hours he must have put into organising everything, and apologies again for my fleeting semi-presence.

Posted on 25th October 2009
Under: Uncategorized | 4 Comments »

Lily seed right on schedule

Lily seeds in their podsLilies are marvellously predictable. Their seed pods ripen and split a day or two either side of mid October. They’re metronomically reliable.

I’m passionate about lilies. I’ve bred some of the varieties in my garden myself, and it’s a thrill to see them thriving. There is no flower more dignified, beautiful and elegant.

Posted on 21st October 2009
Under: Flowers, Seed saving | 3 Comments »

Doomed: rosebuds in October

Last rosebud of the yearI hate seeing rosebuds in October. They’re as gorgeous as ever, but – to corrupt the song lyrics – their lovely promise won’t come true. One sharp frost and it’s all over.

On another note: when did Jerusalem artichokes become so popular that they’re at risk of theft?

I ask because I dug some up for my mother a week or two ago, and somehow – perhaps when I left the bag unattended at the plot for a few minutes, or after I loaded them in her car – they were swiped.

Which blows my mind. I mean, Jerusalem artichokes?

Christ, it’s not the crown jewels. Whatever next? Are my gold fillings safe? Should I perhaps nail my car tyres to the driveway?

My only consolation is the sure and certain knowledge that if the thief eats that many artichokes at one sitting, he’ll fart his colon out of his arse.

Posted on 18th October 2009
Under: Flowers | 1 Comment »

How to grow vegetables without fire?

Sign on allotment site gate informs us we’re no longer allowed bonfires. At all. Anywhere.

Which raises a few questions. The first to jump to mind are:




No doubt more will occur to me.

In the meantime, anyone got any thoughts on how to run a large allotment without ever burning anything? For instance, what to do with blighted potato and tomato matter, couch/bindweed/brassica roots etc?

Obviously I could haul it all home in a large sack and make it the council’s problem to dispose of. Or – the obvious route – stuff it up my arse.

Anything I’ve not thought of here?

Posted on 16th October 2009
Under: Rants | 14 Comments »

Last of the summer whines

Carrots, beetroot and dahliasThere’s a shitload more carrots where those came from, but the beetroot is all done for 2009. Ditto the dahlias. I picked the last ones this morning, and the frosts are on their way.

So summer’s definitely over, and you won’t hear me moan about weeds and lack of water for a while.

I’m not too sad. Too bloody busy, what with all the wretched digging.

Guess what I’ll be moaning about now?

Posted on 14th October 2009
Under: Flowers, Roots, Summer | 4 Comments »

Back in harness

Weeds on the plot No weeds left

Time to write about gardening. You know, with soil and vegetables and shit. The reason I started this blog in the first place and the topic I’ve covered for the last three years.


Kind of fitting that the subject is weeds, because I’m reaping what I’ve sowed this year. Little activity = LOTS of weeds.

There’s a good six weeks’ work to get the allotment back into shape. Expect to hear a lot of whingeing about digging, back ache and filth.

PS I’ve added CAPTCHA to the comment system – my hashcash ‘solution’ was occasionally deleting comments that weren’t spam. Please let me know if it works!

Posted on 11th October 2009
Under: Weeds | 3 Comments »

How creatives work… poor bastards

I’m not usually one for posting YouTube virals, but I have to make an exception for this one. If you’ve ever worked for clients in the creative industries, in any capacity, you’re going to LOVE it. And if you haven’t… well, all I’m saying is: Don’t be the cretinous client. Please.

Posted on 9th October 2009
Under: Uncategorized | 3 Comments »

French bean seeds… for next year’s crop

French beans in pods French beans prepared for storage

Hate shelling beans. After only seconds, your neck starts to ache. Then your fingers get cramp. It’s about as much fun as a wet weekend in Crewe.

But it’s worth it, because this is next year’s French bean crop. Store them in a cool, dry place, in paper envelopes, and all should be well.

If you’ve never saved seed before, beans are a great place to start. It’s almost impossible to cock it up; they pollinate easily, and saving the seed is a simply a question of leaving the pods on the plants until they’re huge… then picking and drying them.

Jeez, even I can do it.

Posted on 4th October 2009
Under: Peas and beans, Seed saving | 7 Comments »

Soilman goes iPhone friendly!

picture of WPTouch iphone interface

Have just made the blog mobile-friendly with WPTouch. If you use an iPhone or other device to look at it, you should see the difference.

Note that you can turn off the mobile theming at the bottom of the home page if you’d prefer to see the standard desktop version.

If you’re reading with a mobile device, do please let me know if you find anything that’s not working, or just looking weird.

Posted on 2nd October 2009
Under: Web nerdery | Comments Off on Soilman goes iPhone friendly!