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?

No?

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 »

Sweetcorn: Er… why?

Sweetcorn

Probably should have made this picture black and white for the full artsy-fartsy look. I’m totally chuffed with my corn this year. It’s growing like hell and looking gorgeous.

God alone knows why. Yeah, yeah, I know the weather’s been good for corn. But still. That can’t explain why it’s worked SO well this year.

Honestly, I know I shouldn’t interrogate my successes, but it’s hard not to spend most of your time – as a gardener – living in a state of quasi-senility. Mostly, I’m baffled to hell. Dunno what I did wrong – or right.

Oh shit. Maybe I AM senile already.

Posted on 29th June 2009
Under: Summer, Sweetcorn | 7 Comments »

It’s the taste

Sweetcorn planted outWhat do you grow vegetables for? Taste, economy or pleasure? Or perhaps a bit of all three?

I ask because of this interesting post about allotment costs. They say growing your own saves money, but of course this is largely bollocks. Add in everything you shell out for (and I mean everything relevant, including share of greenhouse purchase amortised over a few years) and it all adds up.

Take this corn, for instance. To my shame, it’s not an open-pollinated variety… so I had to buy it because I couldn’t save my own seed (which I generally do). Then there’s the peat pots I raised it in, the (bought) compost I filled them with, plus the few bags of manure I bought for the soil (too time-poor to collect all my manure ‘free’ from local stables).

And that’s not all. There’s all the tools I buy and replace when they break or wear out, plus sharpeners and maintenance and the odd drop of petrol/diesel for driving to the plot with a boot-load of crap. Plus netting and fleece for crops that need them. Plus books about gardening (which never feature on anybody’s costs list, but should). If I was into fertiliser and chemicals, they’d cost too.

In short, I grow the most expensive sweetcorn in the world. Even if I cut my costs to the bone, I couldn’t possibly compete with a supermarket cob on price.

So why do it? Well, as they say in the PG Tips advert, “it’s the taste“. Innit.

Oh, and the exercise too – which, perversely, I enjoy. Anyone reckon they actually save money on their plot… if they’re really, really honest?

Posted on 19th May 2009
Under: Sweetcorn | 23 Comments »

Sweetcorn saved by plastic

Sweetcorn under plastic

Warm weather? WARM WEATHER?!?!?

See what happens when you prognosticate? Just gives God another opportunity to demonstrate His evil sense of humour.

Today was beyond shit. Not only did it start with a mild ground frost (thank Heaven I put these out under plastic), it then turned into one of those crappy, blustery, rainy, maritime days for which these islands are infamous.

Didn’t even rain properly. Just a few spits and spots and sharp(ish) showers. Not enough to get down to the plant roots.

So all in all, a predictably pants Bank Holiday Monday. Anyone give me odds on a better one in a few weeks?

Posted on 4th May 2009
Under: Sweetcorn | 3 Comments »

East is least, west is best

Allotment in October Allotment in October

The sweetcorn is over and should have come up by now. But I ran out of steam at the weekend.

The difference between the two halves of my plot is stark. Look west, and it’s fairly shipshape. Look east and despair.

I WILL get on top of it this weekend. And that’s a promise.

Er, again.

Posted on 8th October 2008
Under: Sweetcorn | Comments Off on East is least, west is best

Sunlit childhoods, and other unreliable memoirs

The corn’s so close I can almost taste it. Sadly it needs about another week before we can scoff it.

What a weird season this has been. Such a cold April, so everything was delayed. Then a crazy warm patch, followed by this relentless rain and disappointment.

Come to think of it, that pretty much describes an average British summer. All we need now is the gorgeous September to complete the picture.

Just takes a few extra bad and/or extra good seasons to distort one’s perception. Memory is so fickle.

For instance, I lived in France 20 years ago. Since then, I’ve been committed to the kind of rosy, even utopic, view of France that only 20-year-old happy memories can sustain.

Then, recently, I found myself hunting for an open shop in rural France. On a Sunday.

If this means nothing to you, I’ll leave it to Francophiles of your acquaintance to explain why it’s a place you don’t want to go.

All I’ll say is that was the day I discovered that beating within me is the heart of a psychopathic serial killer. Who enjoys growing cauliflowers.

Memory. Not worth a rat’s arse.

Posted on 13th August 2008
Under: Sweetcorn | 4 Comments »

Drooling over corn

CornflowersNothing more exciting than waiting for sweetcorn to deliver.

It’s one of the most thrilling of all allotment veg. You can’t buy the taste of fresh corn, simply because it doesn’t travel; a few hours from harvest, and it’s already past its best.

The only shame is that it’s gone so fast. Doesn’t last long in this house; two of us usually polish off 50-odd cobs in a few weeks.

Posted on 2nd August 2008
Under: Sweetcorn | 1 Comment »