Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Oldest Spade?

How old can a spade be and still be in use?

If you kept it clean after every session and gave the shaft (assume it’s wooden) some linseed oil, say, once a year, how long would it last?

I’d have thought 100 years was quite feasible. 200? More? Would the blade wear out before the shaft?

Comments, answers and examples please.

And let’s not have any “Grandfather’s axe” answers!!

You’re not familiar with Grandfather’s axe?

“This is a really good axe. It used to be my Grandfather’s. Mind you, I had to put a new head on it last year, and it’s had a couple of new shafts too.”
Surprise, Surprise

I’ve started clearing the neglected area at the bottom of the plot, which was piled high with old rotting wood. But when I moved that some foundations began to emerge. Clearing those with the gardener’s best friend – the pickaxe - the foundations of a large greenhouse appeared.
It spans most of the width of the plot, with a central stone path and two brick-edged beds either side. I sense a restoration project coming on for the winter!

And rooted in one corner I discovered a grapevine. It’s very neglected and tangled
but it is unmistakably a grapevine. It’s a bit late for pruning so I’m just going to bang a couple of posts in, stretch wire between them, tie it in and see what happens. Perhaps give it a bit of manure to feed it too. Exciting or what?
I've also banged three Bishops in. Bishop of Llandaff dahlias, that is.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Love that Lovage

The lovage is back after its winter sleep. I love lovage and I’ve got three plants, grown from seed last year, which will make a lovage hedge this year.

Elsewhere, it’s been “get the onions in” day. Five rows altogether, with 3 of Stuttgart Giant (150), one of Red Baron (50) and one of Shallots (just shallots!). It was lovely work as the ground was so soft from yesterday’s rain, and now it has rained again so they’ll be nicely bedded in and soaked. Just perfect for a good start.

And it’s interesting to look around at all the other allotments and reflect on how they have changed since I took this one. At that time mine was waist high grass and 4 metre high hedges. The plots left and right were derelict as were the two plots immediately downhill of mine. Now every one of them is taken and being cultivated. Some have further to go than others but all are unrecognisable from how they were four years ago. Another which was seriously derelict a few plots along from me is being slowly but surely brought back to life; it had a working party there today concreting in fence posts for a gate. Hanging a gate, and fixing the shed (which they’ve also done), are sure signs that you’re there to stay.

I’ve thought for some time that allotments are like pig farms – always boom or bust. You can turn a pig farm around very quickly because they breed quickly and have big litters, so you can start from not much and have a lot of pigs quite quickly. But that depresses the price so you then go bust. Allotments are a bit like that. Their moment comes, lots of people take them, then realise how much hard work they are and fall away again.

But at the moment allotments seem to be definitely on the up. Long may it continue.

Monday, March 24, 2008

A sower went forth to sow....

and so far he's sown:

Tomatoes (Moneymaker, Beefeater, Tamina & Gardener's Delight)

Leeks ( some leekish sort, not Musselburgh)

Chillies (Cayenne and Scotch Bonnet)
Scotch Bonnet!!!! Wow. H-O-T-T HOT
Me and My Mum and My Dad and My Gran, went to Waterloo.
Me and My Mum and My Dad and My Gran, had a bucket of Vindaloo.
And that's what we'll be doing if they Scotch Bonnets come up to promise.

Cabbage (early). V soothing after the Scotch Bunnets

Cauliflower (All Yr Round)

Basil (which will be good if it gets off its backside and germinates - I'm firmly convinced there are Basil years, in which you can't go wrong with it, and Sybil years, when no matter what you do it just won't germinate (probably terrified).

Parsley (Flat leaf)


And then there's the Geraniums (x2), Impatiens plants Lavender (x2), Rosemary and Sweet Peas (x2), all taking shelter from the intemperate weather.
No wonder the conservatory is begininng to look a little 'occupied'.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Not quite the kitchen sink

But good enough to boil water for tea! And what better to do when digging is interrupted by rain. But, eventually, all the digging is finished now, with the potato plot being last. That's going to be one-third spuds, one-third courgettes and one-third cucumbers.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Back to the plot

Enough of this motorbiking stuff, time to get back to the plot. And I have to say it's looking pretty good, especially the rhubarb.

And all around are unmistakable signs of Spring. Ivan has a new [metal] roof on his shed (now that's a good idea), Chris has cut back his hedge to a manageable height, and I've dug & manured Plot 8 (which always has tomatoes in it.

But, more important than that, I've sown my leek seeds. What better symbolism than sowing leeks on St David's Day. Just be glad it wasn't parsnips.