Whilst ‘playing with plant pots:tales from the allotment’ was initially released for distribution via a kindle. It is now also available in paperback.
Ultimately, I rather like books. I always have. There have been phases of my life where I have collected great piles of books; and have had to send them-after a while-to a new and loving home. I still have a pile of books that I refuse to part company with.
There is something about having a book between your palms and leafing through the pages. You can still leaf through and kindle, a highlight things. But you can’t use a pen, or make your own detailed annotations. I do draw the line, however, at highlighting in day glo pink vast swathes of a book. In my mind at least that is something of a no-no.
As mentioned previously on blog; writing the book was about sharing. Sharing my trials, tribulations. The successes and the failures. A physical book is another way of doing it. In addition, gardening books exist, in one shape or or another form. Now there is another one.
I mentioned previously about how you can at least write in your own copy of a book. You can own it and properly. You can engage with it. There is space enough in the book for that to happen. I encourage readers to do that; and even spot my typos if they so wish.
The very first, and in fact only, gardening book that I ever bought; is littered with my own notes and post its that are sellotaped in or further glued in so that they don’t fall out.
As with the kindle version, the book also has Mum’s recipes. Now you can the book into the kitchen. Again, you can annotate these and record your culinary experiments.
All the original images are in there; so the full colour vibrancy of plot produce can be experienced. I am yet to see a grey flower or pixelated produce.
The last week of my summer holidays, and I was about to go on an adventure. I departed Middle England, and boarded a train mid morning. The journey would be long, but the following day I was going to The Eden Project. A number of friends and colleagues have visited, some with good reviews, some with not. The best thing to do, was to experience it myself.
It is the other side of the country from where I am, in fact on the edge of the country. The trek and accommodation was always going take up a lion’s share of the logistics. The entry for the day, seemed reasonable, given the large sprawling nature of the place. Getting there was simple enough, a return trip on a bus from St.Austell. I did go early, basically as soon as it opened. I really did want the most of it, and I would be spending the day there. A hoody and a pair of comfy boots were used to make things easier. As soon as I got there, the heavens opened and I got rained on. A lot. So I had to head to the biomes, through the zig zag gardens that slope down the sides of the former quarry. I did take a moment to take stock. That second picture up there, the one with the biomes, is astounding. And of course the money shot, used by the literature. Though when I sent it to Ma, she did say they were big green houses.
The may well be greenhouses in the most simplest sense, but the tableau does make you stop and think. Least of all about science fiction, and you are momentarily transported to Star Trek if you are that way inclined. There is no indication at that point, as to what is inside. A wonderful tease, if you haven’t done you research. I didn’t, quite deliberately. The premise was to go with a very open mind.
Going to the link between the two biomes,I had to think where I wanted to go first. I had breakfasted like a princess-half a cooked breakfast in not knowing what I would doing all day and I didn’t want to keel over too soon-so I was fed and watered. A little damp, and knowing that I would want feeding properly at lunch time, I headed to the rainforest.
A low probability exists, in me ever getting to trek through a rainforest. As far as simulations go, this was pretty close. The rainforest biome is hot, sweaty, and breath taking. And not just because of the humidity as required by the vast assortment of cultivation. The effect of being transported is immediate, least of all because of the ants that run around everywhere. They are everywhere, and that makes sense if they are one of the most populace of creatures on the planet. Least offensive though, they don’t bother you. They make the experience more real, if I am honest.
We see pictures and videos of rainforests, and this small cross section is a stark reminder of how big a body such as rainforest is. It is very difficult to appreciate.
Time was crucial in this biome. I did try to perambulate slowly, and as the forest tapers up and around; you do not do this slowly. There is a lot to take in; a whole universe of rainforest is effectively sampled and the data points collected to form what is called a ‘rainforest in captivity’. A phrase, that I’m made me feel a little uneasy. Captivity is a word we might associate with animals, protected for their own safety. Whilst I can see the idea being applied here, the assortment being protected and cared for. I am at odds with the idea of a rainforest being bundled into a biome as though a creature to be viewed through the figurative looking glass. Don’t get me wrong, there was life in that biome. I just don’t like the phrase ‘rainforest in Captivity.’
For the eager and fastidious student, there is a huge amount to learn. Careful study of the markers and the guide-a bit much at £6-is going to provide you with a wealth of information. Looking at the labels, does take time. Unless you speak to a very willing and well trained member of The Eden team, you do have to look and read to make your own judgements.
It is breathtaking, you travel the world without leaving the biome. Having walked around very slowly, there was of course the other biome.
Next, was the Mediterranean biome. This is more cute and cuddly compared to the rainforest biome. It also felt a little smaller, not taking as long, and causing me to question as to where the rest of it was. I did, admittedly, take a lunch time pit stop. I was in need of feeding, my brain was whizzing after the rainforest, and this mean stopping to reflect.I experienced something of a very eerie moment. Rain was scheduled anyway. So it fell, as I had lunch on the terrace. With the exception of a small hungry child, a silence descended on the whole biome. People stopped talking, there was a really cold heavy silence as the clouds gathered over the bioem. A very, very, strange sensation.
Once fed and watered, I did another wander around the second biome. This time, focusing on the chillies, the vineyard and The Roman Garden. The chillies were epic, arguably the envy of the world’s Chilli heads. I took solace in the fact that some of the varieties sown and grown there, were also in my poly tunnel albeit on a smaller scale. It helps, that I know who the seed supplier is. I didn’t pick any, as I was a bit unsure of the rules, and I think they are probably used in the kitchens there.
Sunflowers carpeted part of the area and were a welcome drop of sunshine. The vineyard with it’s sculptures of Dionysus and friends. You cannot miss the big strapping bull, that looks as though he is about to go on a rampage. According to mythology, he is of course a little drunk and full of the carousing spirit. Then there was The Roman Garden. I may not be the biggest fan of this historical time frame; but I did learn something. All the things you might expect on your allotment, the kitchen garden, your cottage garden; has a distinctly Roman heritage.
The seed. The last phase of my exploration was The Core. The central part is this. A huge piece of Cornish stone, hewn down to form this knobbly edifice. I peered in, to take the picture; but felt compelled to pass my hand over the sculpted form. Another slightly surreal Star Trek moment.
I was conscious of not taking too may photographs. Not just because you can put the name into a search engine and find lots of images. If I did that, what would encourage you to actually go?
Not taking more and hundreds of images, was about absorbing the persona experience of the whole thing. Not everyone is a gardener, with horticultural tendencies. One person’s rose bush, might be another’s pernicious weed. You cannot account for experience and perception. I went with an open mind, and there were many parts that resonated with me. So to take loads and loads of photos, would perhaps have diluted the would be perception of others.
Potatos and prep were the key words this week. As mentioned previously, we have had an abundance of Pink Fir Apple potatoes. This week we harvested the last batch. These have been by far the most productive potato that I have ever managed to grow. My potato growing adventures have not been without incident. so to have such nice good quality potatoes from the plot is something of a surprise. All of the spuds this year were in raised beds, and either in compost or farmyard manure. This does appear to have paid dividends.
In the poly tunnel, we have a mass of six foot triffids. Would you believe, that whilst I was away, Ma harvested a red tomato. Yes, I was upset too. You can also see her picking glads, some of which were as tall as her.
Grapes are on the turn, and whilst there is not many of them this year, they are rather sweet. The autumn raspberry cane has kicked off with lovely large fruit, whereas the blackberries are still somewhat thin amongst the boughs.
Ma has taken up the cabbages, as she was about to declare war on the critters that were nibbling on them. She has shredded them and frozen for winter saag dishes.
Then came the apples. Having spend ages chopping, coring and peeling. I have found a new gadget! This was tested in the falstaff apples, the worcester pearmain are too small as are the home grown concorde pears. if only I had thought of this two weeks ago! Would have saved me six hours of work!
It is not unusual for me to take my pumpkins from the vine and put them on the window sill to ripen. Especially as the weather turns, the levels of sunlight drop and the temperature lowers.
Having gone away for a week, I had removed the fruit from the vine hours before taking a plane. A week has passed, and there is a distinct change. The green striped skins have given way to the bright orange that we associate with Autumn and All Hallow’s Eve.
Crucial question, how much do they weight?
Well, the precedent is six pounds, that was the weight at which the original Bruno weighed in at. That is the record that we then aim to meet and exceed. Their collective weight does exceed that. However, individually. the largest is 5.5 lbs, the middle one is 3 and the smallest just over 1.5lbs.
Whilst the individual weights may not match the first ever Bruno Fruit, I am going to take great solace in the fact that I have managed to get three fruits from two plants. That is something that I really prize, three is the magic number this year.
Not sure as to what will happen to them, we don’t tend to make lanterns out of them.In the past, they have either been souped or turned into an Indian dinner.
Whilst many of my teaching colleagues will be returning to school, I have a few weeks before I do. This means that my attention is taken up with the plot, and recuperating before the new academic school year starts.
Some of the plot has been wonderfully abundant. Other parts less so. Whilst the tomatoes are five foot leafy triffids, there hasn’t been a great deal of fruit. What fruit I do have, is being placed upon a light and warm window sill to ripen. The raspberries were very hit and miss, and I think the same is to be said of Blackberries. I have harvested a few blackberries, but there doesn’t seem to be as much as previously seen. This time last year, I had harvested a great deal of plums. Despite what the a picture above might suggest, that is a fraction of what last years bounty was. The above plums have been stoned and frozen for use in the autumn.
The squashes are quite abundant, and today I have been chopping courgettes and squashes that are most likely going to be turned into chutney. You can see a baby butternut, a bit developmentally delayed; I think this primarily because of the erratic conditions this year.
Chillies have been very good in that lessons have been learned. I am very proud to have had a handful of orange habaneros. I have been desired such a crop for years! Whilst the plants are small, I cannot say that they haven’t been plentiful. These are after all, a very potent chilli. I had to wear gloves whilst chopping, as a preventative health and safey measure. The hungarian hot wax-the label is wrong- are fantastically productive, and the orange pumpkin chillies are a really nice surprise. They have ripened incredibly quickly. As eve the cayenne chillies are doing well as well.
As well as the plums, I have apples to play with. These were donated by a plot neighbour. Again, like the plums, these have been chopped and frozen to be used over the autumn.