Saturday, September 30, 2006

So Farewell Then To All Of That....................

Friends, I have a sad story to tell, but first, a confession to make.

Many visitors to “Dig For Victory” over the season have been very complimentary about my produce, and have also been kind enough to say that my plot always looks neat and tidy. ….Well it bloody should do. I’ve had enough time on my hands as I’ve been out of work all year.!

Because of this I’ve been able to spend quite a lot of time down there, more I know, than some other Allotmenteers can fit in, juggling it around family and work as they have to. In fact both the allotment, and this blog, have been a welcome diversion from the endless round of job applications, interviews and rejection letters.

In the space of a year, I have made a whole host of new friends, pontificated about veg in cyberspace, had some successes and some failures, grown a large pumpkin, and even been on the radio….A job would have been nice, but I’ve enjoyed my time regardless.

Unfortunately, this blog will now cease for a good while, as I am selling my house to release some much needed funds, and to move to a cheaper area of the country. I’ve chosen Northampton, as it’s a nice town, is not really so far away from Kent, has some wonderful countryside around it, and most importantly some much cheaper houses…. Sadly this means giving up plot 14, Ridgeway Crescent though.

At some stage in the future, I’ll certainly have an allotment again, or may even a decent sized garden, but this will probably take a year or two I think. In the meanwhile I shall be concentrating a bit more on my other hobby, which is photography. (If anyone is interested you can keep up with my progress here, by clicking the "photos" tab.)

Today is the end of our allotment year and I have tidied up my plot and handed back the keys.

I cannot finish however without thanking all the friends I have made at RC for their help, advice and humour : Jim, Ray, Ernie, Dennis, Jo, Ken, and all three Peters to name but, err....nine.

Nor my fellow bloggers around the world, especially: Lottie, Frankie, Rebsie, Jane, Mildew, Matron, Petunia’s Gardener, and all the others….. I will be keeping up to date with your pages of course, and sticking my oar in occasionally no doubt.

To end on a happier note however, I know that Plot 14 will be in good hands, as Peter Seach (to give “The Plot Boss” his due and recognise him by his real name for once) is taking it over. His current plot is right at the other end of the site, and it makes sense for him to have one nearer the trading sheds……Also the crafty bugger knows it’s much better soil at this end, eh Peter!

Lastly, my friends Geoff and Sue, in some part due to these pages, and my constant banging on about it in the pub, have decided to take over half a plot at RC this next season….More converts to the wonderful world of allotmenteering!

I have given them my seed box to help them get started.

My work here is done……

Pumpkin Harvest.......

So at long last the pumpkins have left the building! .... Not in an Elvis style limo, but on the back of Jim’s truck.

A small group of tuggers and lifters assembled to help us get them loaded this morning, and here I am “posing” amongst the pumpkins.

The larger one of the two should apparently weigh around 170lbs, which is roughly 12 stones in old money. This is calculated by using the very cunning measurement to weight ratio, that you can find on this American pumpkin enthusiast site. Basically you take three specific measurements over and around the beast, add them together, and look up the total on the chart provided. This then tells you the equivalent weight in lbs. They reckon that this method should be accurate to within 5% either way, in the majority of cases.

Those of you from the US-of-A where truly huge fruits are grown for competitions all over the country, are probably wondering what all the fuss is about these two rather unremarkable small gourds. (The current World Record is a mind boggling 1,469 lbs !) Locally however, these are seen as being pretty big stuff. The record at the Tonbridge area show, which I just missed entering, is only 132 lbs.

We didn’t measure the smaller one, but based on picking them up between us, I’d say it is about two thirds of the weight.

Tomorrow is Harvest Festival in Churches around here, the larger one has gone to Hadlow Parish Church, where Jim (in white) and I roped in a passing church warden to help us unload. The other has gone to the Tonbridge Methodist Church, that Jim and his wife attend. Sadly we weren’t able to hang around to see them fully “dressed” by the flower ladies, but here are a couple of pics anyway.

Thanks Jim, John, Geoff & Sue for your help!

Claret & Blue ...............

Being a loyal and long suffering West Ham fan, I could not resist snapping this Kalibos cabbage, in a fantastic shade of punk purple, in front of the blue morning glory......My team colours.

Sadly, the way things are going, this looks like the only bit of glory the Hammers are likely to be associated with this season.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Easy Life...........

Well don't be looking here for an update!

I've been sitting on my backside all week, and haven't been near the plot once. There are a few tidying things to be done during the week, but essentially I'm having an allotment holiday this weekend. The more perceptive amongst you may notice this coincides with wall-to-wall Tv coverage of the Ryder Cup. Make of this what you will.

Do check back here next Sunday however, for pics of the Great Pumpkin Lift, and my end of season round-up............betcha' can hardly wait eh?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Let Them Eat Cake.......

Don't worry, I'm not trying to compete with Lottie, over at Simply Living....In fact I've never baked a cake in my life.

I have however done a few small favours for Peter "The Plotboss" just lately, and also donated a sack of Winter Festival squashes for the stall he and Jo are running at a Macmillan Cancer Support day.

In return, this morning I received this quite unexpected and most welcome homebaked gift!

It seems Jo is a bit of a whizz at this sort of thing, and has made a lot of cakes for the fund raiser.

The kettle is shortly about to boil, and I shall then conduct some very in depth research into whether it is better to eat it plain, or with butter..... I anticipate my deliberations may take quite some time.

Ah, the joys of the allotment economy eh!.............................

Un-Bifurcated Carrots......

The runner beans are over now, so whilst the red cabbage are still maturing (bloody slowly!) and the raspberries continue to trickle along, this is pretty much all is I have to harvest now.

I've just tested a spring onion and "crikey!" is definitely the verdict....they are very strong. Much more so that the previous sowing from the same packet earlier in the year. I guess this is because they have been a lot longer growing, and got off to a slow start in all that hot weather. The flavour seems to have "matured" in some way.

The carrots look good, and came out of the raised bed "salad bar" very clean and uniform. This is certainly the best result I've had with them, as I could never get them to grow at all in the bare soil, right next door.

They grew so straight in this manner that I'm at last prepared to say
"bye-bye bifurcation"........ (Sorry!)

Autumn Digging.......

I've been doing a bit of Autumn digging lately. In actual fact, this picture is over a week old as I meant to post it previously but never got round to it. I've since finished this section, limed it, and rotorvated it ready for planting.

Much as I usually hate digging, I have to say this time, on this part of the plot, it was almost a pleasure. Three seasons of previous careful turn over when I removed all the root weed I could find, a load of manure last year, and some assidous hoeing this year, mean that it is very clean, and pretty much weed free.

The texture of it is also good at the moment, very soft and friable. It broke so easily with a fork, it was rather like digging into dark sponge cake.

If I'm sounding overly pleased with myself, it's because I feel I've proved that it's quite easy to improve your soil if you are prepared to do it over a few seasons.

Although other parts of the plot are a year of so behind, and therefore heavier, this section bears very little resemblance now to the dense, clay bottomed, bind weed haven it was when I first started.

Satisfaction can come from some strange sources sometimes.....

Thursday, September 07, 2006

For The Showmen Amongst You........

You may be aware that Frankie at Allotment 21 has been working on producing "The Longest Bean" as part of a pub conceived wager, and doubtless several other allotmenteers will have also been growing runners for show this year. It's not something I'm overly bothered with myself, but a chap called Chris further down our site shows all kinds of stuff.

He recently won 1st* prize I'm told, in a local area show, in a class for "11 beans of 15 inches or more"...Yup...15 inches... or more!

The variety to grow, for those in the know, is apparently Stenner, which is a specialist show bean, and the weapon of choice of the incomparable Medwyn Williams.

I took a wander down to Chris's plot today and snapped this pic of a typical example to show you....One of the ones that wasn't long enough I presume!

* Correction: It appears I did Chris an injustice when I wrote this post, as I have since been informed that he actually won 1st prize, and not the second I have accidentally demoted him to. Sorry mate!

Patience is a virtue they say..........

Since the weather has cooled down, and we've had a drop of rain, several of the crops I have been disparaging all summer have suddenly come to the party. The Runners have revived, as mentioned before, but now the morning glory planted for pollination puposes has also started flowering.

The red Kalibos cabbage, have suddenly started to form hearts, just as I was about to hoick them out to the rubbish heap. I've removed the very outer leaves that were so badly damaged by flea beetles early on, and they now look a lot more respectable.

And even the relucatant raspberries have put on a sudden growth spurt, and started fruiting in a more meaningful fashion.

I might get that trifle after all...........