Archive for March, 2010

Le malheur des uns…

raspberry canesI’m rather excited. I’m growing raspberries. Never done it before.

I had no plans to, but a friend of my mother’s was giving away raspberry canes. It’s a sad tale: she’s a fruit farmer, and her poly tunnels collapsed under the winter snows. For various reasons, she can’t afford to replace them… so the raspberries were up for grabs.

I feel guilty profiting from another’s misfortune. But I guess they’d have been thrown on the compost otherwise.

End result: I have a row of Glen Ample raspberries. They’re in, but now I have to stake and support them. Is this going to be much harder work than I could ever imagine?!?

Posted on 29th March 2010
Under: Fruit | 17 Comments »

Oh God: Jerusalem artichokes EVERY NIGHT

Jerusalemn artichokesI have so many Jerusalem artichokes I’m close to despair. This is just a fraction of the huge haul from Sunday’s Great Clearance Works.

Managed to foist a bagful on a luckless work colleague (thanks Celia!), but it’s like trying to bail out the Atlantic Ocean with a thimble.

I’m keeping quiet about the gastroentiritic side-effects, but the word seems to be out. “Fuck no, don’t eat them – you’ll fart to death,” was one colleague’s unhelpful advice to an artichoke virgin whom I’d cajoled to the brink of accepting some.

There’s nothing for it. I’ll just have to eat artichokes for a week, and nothing else. Wife’s away for 10 days from Sunday, so I can barricade the door, lay in stocks of air freshener and go for it.

Posted on 23rd March 2010
Under: Roots | 14 Comments »

Planting the first earlies… at last

Planting first early potatoesI’ve waited for this for what feels like a year. I’ve been desperate to get the bloody potatoes in, but Life has conspired against me for weeks.

It was a lovely afternoon, but Nature is slow to bestir Herself this year. I saw my first daffodil on Wednesday (a pretty mangy specimen), but of Spring there is still barely a sign. No Forsythia, no Camellias, nothing. Have you seen any?

Folks keep saying a hot summer follows a cold winter. But the summer of 1963, following the ‘Great Freeze’ of 62/63, was apparently unremarkable… so I’m not holding my breath. This Global Warming thingamajig ain’t all it’s cracked up to be – in the UK, at any rate.

Posted on 21st March 2010
Under: Potatoes | 11 Comments »

New Soilman: Real work for the weekend

Right, it’s all change. No more non-gardening, non-blogging and non-doing.

This weekend, a multitude of jobs WILL get done:

  • Planting raspberries (maybe even staking them and rigging wiring for support)
  • Planting First Early potatoes
  • Planting onion sets
  • Digging up remaining Jerusalem artichokes and replanting a new row
  • Digging over roots bed
  • Weeding
  • Hoeing
  • Saving the planet and getting the girl

All in a day’s work for New Soilman (it’s like New Labour: full of promises and relaunches, but always the same old bollocks).

Posted on 19th March 2010
Under: Alliums, Fruit, Potatoes | 14 Comments »

Perfect weekend… and nothing done

The temperature rose. The sun shone. The bees buzzed.

It was the perfect first day of Spring to be at the allotment… and I wasn’t there. Completely blew it. Ran out of time.

So bugger-all achieved, and now I’m falling behind. Potatoes desperately need planting, as do the onions. Where the hell am I going to find the time?

Posted on 14th March 2010
Under: Spring | 11 Comments »

Top season for parsnips

Huge parsnipThink I may have left the parsnips a tad too long…

Given good soil and good conditions, parsnips grow to monster sizes. Some folks say they get woody and unpleasant to eat when they’re huge, but to be honest I’ve never noticed. Provided you cut out the core before cooking them, they’re fine.

And actually, this year’s crop has been my best ever. I’ve had two 15ft rows of huge, straight, tapering roots. Delicious, too, because all these frosts have sweetened them marvellously. This is Tender and True, my favourite variety.

How were your parsnips this season?

Posted on 9th March 2010
Under: Roots, Winter | 10 Comments »

Not tidy, not a tosser

Contents of my shedSome of you were sad enough to want to see my allotment shed.

Well, don’t say I didn’t warn you. First, it’s not a shed – it’s a plastic dumpster (whose assembly you can watch in my foolish video). Second, it’s a bloody disgrace.

I don’t do tidy. Tidy’s for tedious tossers. Sorry, but there it is. Apologies to all the tedious tossers I count among my friends. I love you guys. I know it’s a sickness.

That’s not to say I wouldn’t like to be tidier. I would. It’s just that becoming so would require becoming a tedious tosser. And some prices are just too high to pay.

Posted on 6th March 2010
Under: Rants, Winter | 12 Comments »