Archive | October, 2014

Grass Paths

10 Oct

This isn’t the first time I have used grass paths as a title for a post and in all honestly it probably won’t be the last time either as there is an awful lot of future grass path mileage I can squeeze from this topic and at the end of the day a blog about allotments does seem rather cyclical and repetitive: there is angst about weeds and slugs and I can’t envisage that ever changing. There is joy about produce and harvest. There is disappointment when said harvest does not come to fruition because of said bugs and weeds. And on it goes.

So grass paths could almost be seen as a spicy edition to this predictable cycle, thrown in at odd times when I scratch my head and think OK what one good thing shall I do today? And the answer often seems to be sow another grass path.

It’s a bite sized manageable task, not to be done in cold weather. I timed my first grassy patch this autumn well – an area still covered in membrane in fruit corner that was already flat and ready to go.

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Two weeks after sowing the little patch was more green than brown and this inspired me to attempt one more before the cold drew in.

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My plot now resembling a Banksy mural.

I’m not quite sure what I was thinking but as soon as I sprinkled the last of my grass seeds on my next grass path the weather changed and I got the feeling last time I visited it is now destined only to feed the birds. That is fine, I don’t begrudge them getting some winter comfort from my grass seeds but I think I thought the nice weather was going to last for another month rather than the grim reality that we probably now face at least four months of huddled-round-heaters-wearing-jumpers-indoors winter action.

The change in the weather has been rapid – it’s hard to believe on Tuesday I picked a huge pile of cucumbers and courgettes and yet by Thursday the frost had pretty much killed the plants off.

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Tuesday’s bounty.

I spent a long time on-line ogling snow-boots yesterday in an attempt to cheer myself up and help me face the inevitable onslaught of wintry cold. So it’s possible the blog posts will be as Spartan as my harvest for the next few months.

So it’s back to shop bought cucumbers for us and possibly, because I am someone who needs to get outdoors, I will dust off my running shoes again. We’ll see but for now I am hopeful I can wrangle a few more trips to the plot to plant broad beans and dig over the cucumber patch, in between this icy weather and the recent downpours of course.



The life and death of a giant pumpkin

2 Oct

I know, this was inevitable. How many honourable mentions had our giant pumpkin gained so far? As I recounted my tale of it’s demise to my hubby he smiled and said it’s almost like you wanted the slugs to get to it, to save you the bother of carrying it home.

That’s not strictly true, I’m just good at letting things go but before I consign it to the dustbin of my memory,  let’s recap our pumpkin’s chequered history. It came as part of a stable of three pumpkin seedlings, given to me by Uncle Arthur, a gifted gardener who happily for me, plants lots of successful seedlings and always has an excess which he duly passes my way. This year those seedlings went even further when he passed on so many thriving tomato plants I shared them with other local gardening mums.

I have planted many things myself from seed this year with mixed degrees of success – my chillies, peppers, cucumbers and courgettes have done really well. I have struggled, for a second year to grow many carrots though and planting an aubergine outside was perhaps rather adventurous. So donations from Arthur are always welcome and this year I have been given tomatoes, purple sprouting broccoli, cabbage, leeks, beetroot, lettuce, onions not to mention raspberry bushes, five of which are still with us.

The pumpkin came as part of a big batch that my mum delivered one day back in April and I planted them in the area once known as the pond in early May. Much has been tipped into the pond to prevent it being so pond like, mainly shingle and compost and so far this year it seems to have worked. Last January I tipped a load of half rotten home made compost onto it and covered it with the cardboard box from my daughter’s flat pack bunk beds.

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This is what fuelled the giant pumpkin!

In May I cut three holes in this cardboard and planted the pumpkin seedlings there. I didn’t really have a clue what I was doing and by the end of the week, 2 out of 3 of them had been eaten by the slugs that had camped out under the cardboard munching the home grown compost.

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But the middle one survived and went onto thrive. It seemed for that one what didn’t kill it made it stronger as the ground was certainly nutrient rich once I had rid it of the slugs.

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Perhaps it’s time to skip to the end. When I visited for a potter on Tuesday I noticed this oft mentioned giant pumpkin was now riddled with holes. I prodded the under side with my boot and saw it was all soggy and had been converted into an all expenses paid slug hotel, full-board of course.

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It may not have happened quite as quickly as I like to think but I rued not picking it at the weekend, as always I get waylaid by some other task or mission. Last weekend it was supporting a local political rally for the NHS which ultimately meant the death of my pumpkin.

Keen to end on a high lest I put anyone off of the joys of gardening there are two silver linings to be had from this tale.

  1. Once again it shows the power of holding things lightly, of letting go, of being able to shrug and say oh well, that saves carting it home. More proof, though none is needed, of the impermanence of it all.
  2. I have continually referred to it as pumpkin singular but under the leaves to my surprise was hidden one more junior pumpkin. And now that I have severed pumpkin number one from the vine pumpkin number two has thrived. I’m sure it goes without saying – I have put a ring of slug poison all the way round it.

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