Category Archives: early days

Project Othello: #1 Origins

I might be getting towards the tail end of my summer holidays, but Mama H is officially starting hers. So that gives her plenty of time and impetus to give me  a hand. Project Othello, concerns the top end of the allotment plot. The existing half, the sukh shaanti garden is 88 square metres. So I Imagine, that the rest of the plot is of  similar size. I have yet to go down there with Dad’s measuring tape. When I have figured out what I want to do, I shall definitely size things up. I am banned from putting raised beds there-by my mother-so the odds are that this bit, will be more manual labour orientated. Influenced, heavily, I think, by Ma’s own GYO experiences as a child.

This patch has been fallow now for approximately a year. Previous owners had cleared it, and Rotavatored it. But sadly, through no fault of their own, were unable to attend to it.  We musn’t begrudge them that, they did genuinely have a go. Unlike the neighbouring plot, where you will see the tiger tigers lurking. That is another issue. It makes very cross. That as someone has paid their rent, they cannot be asked to vacate. Anyway, that is my soapbox. Except when that plot seeds weeds all over mine. Have seen the owner all of four times in my two years there.

Anyway, Project Othello. Why the Shakespearean name? It looks awful on the top, but beneath there is something that has a lot of potential. Case of Othello taking on Iago and winning. We like Othello, for all the nastiness he encounters and overcomes. I now have visions of a nasty Christopher Ecclestone…moving on, though.

There has been a lot of debate, wrestling with what to do. Do I weedkill, pull up, cover? Two years ago, I had to just pull up the grass and weeds. The plot had been dressed with weedkiller. I didn’t have that luxury this time. Weedkiller, also needs dry days to work. Which, despite the current state of Blighty summer, is calling take a chance on things. For the moment, Mama has made short work of pulling up grass and chopping down. The best part of which, is being put into builders bags to compost down. Though, it could also be chopped down and covered with the tarp. Essentially, that is what is happening. That which can  be pulled, is being pulled. There are lots and lots of brambles along the border and also by the back where the fence is. Not sure whether these will be chopped, killed, or cultivated. Might even keep the odd invader out. The cardboard and newspaper should help block out the light, and facilitate things being broken down into the soil. We are doing our best, to stop seeds getting everywhere. Not an easy task, I tell you.

Those two cats you see, I don’t know who they belong to; but they often come and skulk around the plot. We startle each other, as they exit the grass. But today, these two just sat there having a chat with each other.

A third sorted, and more to come.

Yours in anticipation,

Horticultural Hobbit

Placing the seed into the pot may 2011

Having pottered around for the last three years and bumbling around; this would be the debut Horticultural Hobbit blog. So this is very much about getting the show on the road, what with all the accrued knowledge and what is to come.

I transfered today, this years cohort of chillies into larger plants. So that is everything that I have grown from seed, now in it’s summer position and place. And then I stood there, and thought about what I sew or plant next. I was reassured, that I should wait. See what takes off, and what doesn’t, before I got ahead of myself.

Fair point, it is meant to be summer after all. Things should be cooking, and we should at the end of it, get some lovely, home grown goodies. That does not however, stop me from having a look at the gardening book and see what I could when the current crop has ceased. A couple of post its in the relevant pages, and I know where to look in a month or twos time.

The current state of play then.

Courgettes, have been rather productive. At the moment, we have two nicely shaped and sized courgettes a week. We started off with a handful of courgettes, that were a lot like Okra. Small, wiry, but niblet sized. As it got a litle warmer, and the leaves sprouted, we have got some better sized ones. Winning, at the moment, as far as these go.

Carrots, them paris market thingies. Last year, the crop was altogether laughable. Randomly planted, and then observed on an ad hoc basis; the carrots were like little stumpy crayons. There are lots of leaves this year, and there are a few carrots. This years crop, do look a little small again. Next time, will just go with a nantes type thing, and see what happens. There is still some time, however, for the carrots to cook through. There may still be a decent or not bunch yet. It’s the prospect of that pesky carrot fly that causes nightmares.

There are lots and lots of Aphids. Don’t know where they have come from, what they plan to do with the veggies. But they be everywhere. Having seen only one or two ladybirds, I really don’t want the little green blighters to be hanging around very much,

Butternut squash has all these little black ants all over it. They are creepiing and crawling around a mass of leaves, littered with male flowers. There are two female flowers at this point, with the rather bulbous butternut squash bud behind them. I would rather like the flowers to open, and hope that there is some pollination. That worries me a little, since I’ve seen all of one bumble bee. Have learned this week, that some varieties benefit from assisted polination. Keep glancing at it, hoping that the bees do the leg work for me. There is definitely some truth in there not being many bees around.

Now it is a case of wait and see, or good things come to those that wait perhaps. It’s all very exciting, planting things. One must however, take one’s time and let nature take it’s course. There may be a small victory dance if the butternut squash does actually pollinate. Then there is the aubergine. The one flower, is a little spikey,and closed as tight as a scotsman’s wallet. Doesn’t appear to be opening anytime soon.

Yours in Anticipation

Horticultural Hobbit

Autumn and allotment Sept 2011

With autumn, comes an allotment

The Gods of Horticulture in tandem with Saint Fiacre, have come good. One has a patch of hobbitland to call one’s own. About a week ago, I got that call from the allotment secretary. The half plot was mine, if I still wanted it.

At the end of week one

And I did!

The whole plot, only half is mine.

Eight by eleven metres, the half plot was over run. Not nearly as bad however, as the other plots that I had a choice from. There were two others, where the weeds were twice my height. Perhaps not then, the best to tackle. My plot, is the last but one. And at half the expected price due to just how neglected it was. I was fortunate, in that the ‘llotment secretary was one of the previous owners, and had also sprayed weedkiller that created a carpet of dead grass. Beneath it, the soil is clay. In the first half an hour that I was there, there were a few folks who did that sharp inhalation of breath usually associated with car mechanics. What ensued, was me digging up my log book and Ma saying she wanted the whole the thing. Not on my nelly. The spat lasted the whole weekend, and was not particularly amusing. But I had the key, the ‘lottment rules and time.

The start of week 2

Only today, have I found out the aspect. There are many who would feel that is useful. Standing at the front corner. I was standing 158 degree south. North was on my left shoulder, South diagonally opposite. To the more hard core, that makes perfect sense.

There is a plan. I have had it for what it feels an age.

The plan!

It is not set in stone, very few ever are. So this may well change. What I will have to do, is make sure that the soil is made lighter. There are plans afoot to form a leaf mold and also to have a compost bin. I did toy with the idea of a wormery, but then I took a look at the cost. That and I spent most of today apologising to every wiggly woo that chanced upon whilst digging. They are after al the good guys, to whom it pays to be nice.

At the moment, I am trying to pace myself. Being only too aware, that whilst this requires hard work, in the long run there will be dividends. It will be all to easy to pelt at the plot, when like all good things it is nice to have a process. I was very encouraged to see that there were butternuts on the plots. Poor Gladys was our summer drama queen. Seeing the cropped product made me feel that much better. That butternuts can be grown, and in hobbit land. There are also pumpkins, a lot like Bruno the ghost rider. I must have been doing something right at home.

Allotments in themselves, are a community. Seeing different people come and go, is really quite nice. And here I am, starting out.