Monday, April 25, 2011

Provision of Allotments - a sham consultation?

I've just stumbled across this, entirely by accident.

The Dept for Communities and Local Government are running a consultation on removing statutory burdens from local authorities, one of which is the statutory requirement to provide allotments.

The consultation ends today, Easter Monday. Did you know about it? I bet you didn't. Nice one, CLG. Run a consultation but don't let interested parties know you're running it, then you can claim that because there weren't any replies no-one is that interested and you can remove the statutory duty with impunity. Pah; rumbled that one, matey.

You've just about got time to write to them. And your MP.

At last

It's taken a long time but I've finally managed to dig over Section 8 at the bottom of the plot. This is how it was at the start of the afternoon.

The big heap is last year's compost, thrown on it with good intentions (you can't beat a big dollop of good intentions; almost as good as a big trollop with bad intentions) to empty the space for this year's compost; but then never acted on. The whole thing was becoming an eyesore.

And that's a shame really because it's a nice enclosed bed with good soil. It's clearly been a very big cold frame at some time and every autumn I say to myself "I really must get on and build that back into a cold frame; it'll be really useful in the spring". Of course when spring comes around I've done no such thing and it's too late then.

But at least I got it dug over and the compost worked in.

You have to admit it looks better already. It's going to be a nursery bed for leeks and then for salads and possibly a few tomatoes, overspill from the greenhouse at home.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Six Butts

I've got six butts.

Well, not me personally. I may have put on a bit of weight since I was positively skinny but even so, six butts. Dear me, no; how rude.

I do, though have six water butts, strategically positioned up & down the length of the plot, watering for the use of. Two of them are courtesy of Duck Dinner Dash, and much appreciated they are too.

I know you can only see five in this picture but that's because one is behind me. Technically, one is in fact a bath. No lack of amenities on this allotment, I tell you. There'll be an en-suite soon. And, yeah, I know, the one lying down (look very closely) has a hole in it. That's a hole at the bottom; obviously it has a hole at the top otherwise it wouldn't be a butt, it would be a tin. Do try to keep up.

The one with the hole in it will soon have a concrete bottom, a condition I feel sure many of us have suffered at some stage. Then it will hold water and I'll be fully up to strength butt-wise.

Levity aside, this is important because we are being exhorted to save water, use butts, water from the butts with a can and avoid watering with a hose. All very worthy if sometimes a tad misplaced. The Council seem to have this idea that we all leave sprinklers going for hours on end. I've never seen anyone using a sprinkler; no-one would let them monopolise the tap for that long. Anyway, mi' butts are full to bursting and all's well with the world.

The onions & shallots, started off in the greenhouse, are in.

The wallflowers are still flowering well, albeit nowhere near a wall.

But I'm saving the best till last. I know, what a tease.

Look at this chap.

The first Asparagus of the year. Hopefully there'll be lots more. I didn't cut any last year, to let the bed establish. I cut this one as the very last job, raced home with it and had it with my tea. Sausage, egg & chips. And asparagus. A classic combination. Remember where you heard it first!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Cherry, Cherry

Well I hope so, given how many flowers there are on this cherry tree. This is it's first year flowering so I've got great hopes of lots of cherries for Wilma Wilbury later this year (you'll remember that I don't actually like cherries so planting a cherry tree is a great act of selfless devotion!) ;-)

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Strimming On (or, more accurately, Off)

It was one of those days, yesterday, when strimming off was just exactly the right thing to do. The grass was at the length where if I left it another week it would be too long and "a problem". The sun was hot enough to dry it out where it fell and, crucially, the boy's own wondertool which is my petrol-powered strimmer hadn't seen action since the autumn.

Needless to say, it made it's point by being reluctant to start but once firing on all cylinders (that's all 1 cylinder!) it made short work of the excess. And doesn't it look tidier? Well, all right, apart from the heap of old wood and the strategically placed manure heaplet. Have faith. The first one is going to the tip and the second will get dug in.

Mind you, I now have a touch of vibration white finger. The strimmer's reluctance to start (sorry, technical bit coming up) is probably down to it being full of stale petrol, at least 6 months old. I used to pooh-pooh the idea that petrol could "go off" but I'm coming to the conclusion that it can. Whenever any of my arsenal of power tools (that's 3 in total) are reluctant to start, fresh petrol almost always does the trick.

And then I went a-mattocking, all the live-long day, slicing the top of the overgrowth off the soil and just leaving it to crisp up. It doesn't eradicate the weeds, because it just clears the top growth and doesn't dig 'em out. But it does give them pause!

So, all in all, a good day yesterday which has left the plot looking considerably tidier. I wish I could say the same for the shed roof.

Those of you with sharp eyes will see the parlous state of the thing, not waterproof and sagging hard. I have two sheets of corrugated bitumen-y roof stuff at home to fix it. Fingers crossed; perhaps next weekend.

Sunday, April 03, 2011

Progress...... slow. I've been "off-plot"for nearly two weeks, on assorted other duties (!), and at this time of year that's a big mistake; things (mostly weeds) just grow so fast.

But I'm back in the groove and made a good start clearing Section 1 at the very top of the hill. It has the lightest soil, fewest weeds and is closest to the manure heap. I'd hoped to finish it and get some manure in but didn't manage it.

Still, the rhubarb is roaring away. I think it's Timperley Early. It's also beginning to grow it's own Triffid. I've never seen a flower spike as big as this quite so early; that probably means it needs splitting up in the autumn. Crikey; even more rhubarb!

And things are flowering. Look at this Plum. I'm due a big crop this year because last year was a 'resting' year for the tree. The Blackthorn has almost finished flowering now and I'm hopeful of more than the 8 sloes I had from it last year. The Cherry hasn't started yet but the buds are positively fecund. And I'm very pleased with the wallflowers, which have survived a real bashing & crushing by the snow.