Of cabbages and Autumn Kings

young carrotsHad a fabulous day on Tuesday. A full six hours at my allotment without interruptions, additions, chores, tasks or interference. AND the sun was shining.

I realised later that this was the first time in more than four years that I’ve been able to enjoy my vegetable gardening at leisure: no clock-watching, no frantic weed tugging in a tightly-defined 10-min window between other pressing engagements. It was bliss.

The bad news, of course, is that it got me thinking about my life in general. The most appropriate question arising: What life?

All I do, essentially, is work. When I’m not working (unusual) I’m trying to fit into the few pathetic remaining hours of the week all the tedious chores and domestic tasks I can’t do at work. Gardening is forced into a very lowly position on my list of priorities.

young beetroot plantsI know whingeing is unattractive. I also know lots of you reading this will be recognising your own lives in this rant and thinking “Get over it, Soilman. Grow a pair.”

I have no answer to that. But I promise you: If I figure out a way to work less and garden more, I’ll be sharing it with you here.

Posted on 28th June 2013
Under: Rants, Roots | 4 Comments »

Easy = shit

yellow cylindrical beetrootI’m suspicious of these beetroot. They’re yellow cylindrical ones, and they’re growing far, far too well.

Compare with the bog-standard Bolthardy to the left, which were sown on the same day: The yellows are twice the size, maybe more.

You know, of course, what this means?

Yup: They’ll taste vile. Anything easy ALWAYS tastes vile.

Posted on 9th June 2012
Under: Beetroot, Roots | 10 Comments »

Mixed allotment produce

mixed allotment produceWhat an miserable summer it’s been. Even September – usually dependably lovely – has let us down this year.

Having said that, the endless rain has given me some astonishing crops. This is just one trugful. I’ve been getting this every week for months.

That’s not to say everything’s been good, of course. Potatoes got blight VERY early and yields suffered accordingly. The corn didn’t like it much, either.

But everything else has gone bananas. I’ve had the best beetroot, onions, courgettes and carrots I can ever remember. The courgettes, in particular, are a menace. I am already a leper to my neighbours – to be avoided at all costs, lest I attempt to foist a courgette upon them.

How did you do this season?

Posted on 11th September 2011
Under: Cucurbits, Roots, Sweetcorn | 6 Comments »

A perfect beetroot amid the insanity

beetrootSo the world financial system is about to crash around our ears, and London is burning.

The perfect time, then, to report that I’ve grown a heart-shaped beetroot.

So that’s nice.

PS (And you just knew I wouldn’t be able to resist, didn’t you?) To my non-UK readers, who are probably aghast and amazed that such things can happen in frightfully ‘nice’ and civilised Britain: Here’s an explanation.

Britain is a rioting nation. Is now, always has been. The cause and the ‘answer’ are the same they’ve always been: the have-nots are fed up with their ‘have-not’ status and the enormous disparity between them and the ‘haves’ (the gap’s been growing for about 25 years).

This will play out the way it always plays out. First, we’ll get on top of it – because of course the law-abiders and taxpayers are the majority, we have the money and we have the material/manpower. Then there will be enquiries and reviews and reports – as usual. They’ll say what they always say: That these luckless, under-privileged people are mistreated and deserve more.

Then we’ll do what we always do: Bribe them with more state handouts and more community support and more locally manufactured ‘jobs’ (in truth, state sinecures paid from taxation) and more ‘stuff’ to enable them to live the way they want. And when we’ve forgotten to do that again, in about 15-20 years, they’ll give up their favourite post-modernist tactic – moral blackmail – and resort, again, to burning down our cities until we re-bribe them.

Naturally, we’d prefer to give them fishing rods, not fish. But a) we’re too mean to spend the money and make the effort required to properly educate and assimilate them, and b) they’re too debased and feral to respond to education and opportunities anyway. They prefer the bribes.

So bribery it is.

This is how Britain works. It is one of our little eccentricities. In less fortunate nations, which can’t afford to bribe their underclass, these people are starved routinely and shot when they get out of hand.

But here in the UK, we don’t like that. It’s messy and well, just not cricket.

Posted on 8th August 2011
Under: Roots | 12 Comments »

Mixed supper

mixed vegetables from the allotmentQuite a mixed bag tonight. I appear to have grown Britain’s biggest beetroots to go with the exhibition cauliflowers. I may have to make that weird summer salad the Greeks like so much – you know, the one that’s a mixture of cooked and raw veg, purple because of the fresh beetroot. Rather nice.

This is turning into an extraordinary year in the vegetable garden. From a very inauspicious start, I’m getting bumper crops in almost all departments.

The ghastly weather helps, of course. Rain sucks, but it makes fierce vegetables.

Posted on 17th July 2011
Under: Cucurbits, Flowers, Potatoes, Roots | 4 Comments »

Smallest beetroot in Britain

beetroot seedlingsWell these are pretty shit, aren’t they?

I sowed them in April. By now they should be double this size… maybe bigger. It’s been so hot and dry they never stood a chance. Half never even germinated – and I’ve never seen rows of Bolthardy beetroot with a third of the expected plants missing.

I’m watering almost every day at this point. That’s a July/August regime. Yet I’m barely making a dent in the arid conditions.

Nothing’s growing. By dint of massively soaking the spuds once a week, I’ve just about kept them going. Most everything else is sulking, unable to put on any growth through lack of water.

It’s all very gloomy.


Posted on 25th May 2011
Under: Roots | 14 Comments »

Beetroot. And, er, that’s about it

beetrootLadies and gentlemen, you may be looking at my most successful crop in 2010.

Yes, these humble beetroots are about the only things I’ve grown that I can be proud of this year. And I’m not that proud, frankly.

It’s all OK, though, because I’ve rationalised everything. It’s just a one-off lousy year. Shit happens. Next year, I’ll be drowning in veg again.

Everything’s going to be just fine.


Posted on 18th July 2010
Under: Roots | 8 Comments »

Carrots and beetroot

carrots and beetroot rowsI’ve just about caught up with the weeding and got all the crops in… on midsummer’s day.

Hey. Better late than never.

This season isn’t going to be my finest hour. I’m late with everything, the weather’s been SHIT (dry, cold, miserable) and I’ve not had time to plant more than 60% of my plot.

Oh, and now we’re going to have a drought. Fucking great. Wake me up when it’s all over.

Posted on 21st June 2010
Under: Roots | 6 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 to a land of plenty

Week of growth

Say you missed me. Life was meaningless without me. You’ve white-knuckled your way through my absence, gagging for your hit of Soilman magic… right?


Hey-ho. Too bad, because I’m back from my Spanish holiday and I’m full of beans. Don’t give the tiniest shit what anyone thinks, and am ready to crow about my allotment successes. Sickening, innit?

Here’s the week’s worth of veg that grew while I was away. A few torpedo marrows, but lots of good ones. Plus some sensational corn, carrots and beet. It’s turning into a terrific allotment year.

Posted on 2nd August 2009
Under: Cucurbits, Flowers, Roots, Summer, Sweetcorn | 13 Comments »