Thursday, 31 July 2008

And the rest fell on good ground...

My word! Yesterday's post actually generated a query about what I'd been planting. Obviously, my previous conviction that there's nothing more to be done in an allotment as August approaches is a widely held assumption...this is precisely why Grow Your Own has a late summer seed promotion. Well, I've planted Swiss chard, radicchio, turnip, swede, Autumn carrot, Chinese leaves, and Japanese spinach. And they've all started to come up already! This is just as well, as the mizuna and rocket I'd grown on the back patch were overwhelmed by flea beetle. I just couldn't keep the ground damp enough. I know what I'm going to do, though. I'm going to plant a dastardly mix of Japanese salad leaves which absolutely nothing will touch with a barge pole (including, humans, incidently, if you're not careful to remove the more volcanic mustard varieties from the mix before they reach the table. H nearly had convulsions one supper time last year...). Then I'll just prize the mizuna leaves out. Ha! Anyway, back to the plot... We've also planted little cabbage, purple and white sprouting broccoli, and, wait for it, brussel sprouts! Why the exclamation? Because our Esteemed Leader banned us from planting these as he said they never grew well in our county. But Patrick said that's nonsense. So, we're going ahead, but we're pretending that the crop is Japanese Walking Stick Plants. What extraordinary subterfuge! And I've got a little line of kale too, which EL absolutely detests...We can expect fireworks, and well before November 5th, I fear. And I should mention too, that we are cropping regularly now. We've got an abundance of lollo roso (red lettuce, to you chum), tomatoes, and courgettes, not to mention the squashes just pouring out of the Victorian hotbed. And if all else fails, there's always more potatoes...It's a pity about all the hard work, though. I'm aching from top to toe today.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

And some fell on stony ground...

Sorry not to have kept you up-to-date. Truth is, things have been pretty tiring round here since Patrick arrived. For a start, he's insisting that we continue to grow things all through the winter! This time last year, when things got a bit hot, we all mutually decided we'd had enough, covered the allotment with black plastic sheeting, and enjoyed weekly chats about our drug side-effects. But this year, we are planting, planting, planting. Unfortunately, I discovered that the wonderful mag, Grow Your Own, was offering a cornucopia of cheap seeds which the committee agreed I should send off for. I think then there was a decision made, without my knowledge, that I should also plant the seeds and keep them watered...for this is what I've been left doing. As we're in the middle of a hot patch (and I'm having hot flushes on account of my HRT dose being cut!) , this has been backbreaking and time consuming work. On the home front things have been equally taxing. I wake up most mornings to find the remains of some animal or other on the living room floor, and then comes the difficult decision-making process of working out how to sweep up these remains, and, even worse, which bin to put them in. Sometimes it's just all too much, so I make a cup of coffee and go back to bed. I'm in trouble with H again as I discovered that QVC was having a Christmas in July day, during which I made a whole series of quite delightful purchases. To make matters worse, I then went on to buy some wonderful half-price jackets in their fashion outlet sale. H's argument, of course, will be that I don't really need these jackets what with the abundance of black plastic sheeting I now have going to waste. This is a man who regularly goes to Dubai and returns giftless, moaning that there's too much gold in the duty-free shop...What's a gal to do?

Thursday, 10 July 2008


Thought I'd just fill you in on what happened yesterday, as I did actually go to the allotment in the end. You see, by ten o'clock it wasn't raining that hard, and I remembered a couple of people who'd said they were going didn't have keys to the shed, so I thought I'd better make my way there just in case anyone was silly enough to want to garden in the rain. There was no-one else about when I arrived, so I started planting out the last of the squashes that I've been growing on the windowsill. I plant these, if you want to know, in the middle of the runner bean rows, as they like the extra nutrition and the support the beans provide. I'd just finished this when I heard the merry tinkle of a bicycle bell. Who should it be but Patrick, arriving in the now heavy downpour without even a waterproof on. (No that sounds silly, he was dressed, you understand, he just lacked any waterproof outergarments). He'd cycled 15 miles! What a wonderful day for gardening! he proclaimed as he leapt from the saddle. I directed him to the ancient pile of horse manure that needing turning into our winter plot, and he started digging manically. I continued for about half an hour as the rain came pelting down at all angles, gathering in beans, turnips, onions, and even a few baby potatoes. Then I made for the shed where I had a cup of coffee from my flask and surveyed the damage. I was covered in mud from head to foot and my shoes were awash with water. Patrick went on and on and on, only returning at intervals to tell me what a great day it was, and how fabulous our soil is. I started feeling a nasty chill, if not full-blown pneumonia, coming on, and wondered if it would ever end. Suddenly, Patrick asked me what the time was. Mid-day, I said. Great! he replied, that's exactly when I'd decided to stop! And, Praise the Lord, stop he did. Immediately. Everything packed back in the shed in under five minutes. On the way home I stopped off at the charity office. That new man you sent me, I said, dripping muddy water all over their floor and oozing rotting vegetation from every orifice, he's absolutely mad! That's the point, they said. And indeed it is. But you don't expect it, somehow, of the volunteers.

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Dyed in the Wool

Today promises enough rain for a month within 24 hours....summer continues, then, and I don't think much progress will be made on the allotment this week. So, I'll talk of other things. Like my visit to the carpet department of the new John Lewis emporium yesterday.(You remember the house I told you about a while back...the one I liked but H didn't? Well, it's now ours...). It was a memorable event. Seeing me tossing samples into the air, an assistant immediately came over (it works every time). What was Madam looking for? A white carpet, I said. That's not possible, he said. You can't have a white carpet because sheep are not white. They may look white, but in fact they're not. They are dirty grey. I blinked hard, and steadied myself on a pile of Axminster samples. But you seem to have the products of blue, yellow and purple sheep here, I noted. That's because you can easy dye the wool those colours but you can't dye it white. I felt my brain start to implode. Surely I was not to be beaten by a mere technicality? But then it got worse. Much worse. The awful man then directed me to....I hardly dare say it....THE SHAGPILES!!! How dare he, I thought. And after I'd taken the trouble to daub myself with Chanel No5 as I passed through the perfume department, too. I glared at him and he scurried away, after showing me the drawers holding the tiny take-home squares. I helped myself to every off white, pure wool and utterly expensive sample I could find and then headed off to the Brasserie for breakfast. Phew, I'd only made it by ten minutes! My waitress (yes, my waitress, I always get very special service in the Brasserie as I order the smoked salmon breakfast...), didn't seem that interested in carpets at first, but I soon had her sitting at my table discussing samples as the other diners (breakfasters?) looked on in disbelief...