Sunday, 31 May 2009

Wind tunnel tidings

And finally today we had SUNSHINE!!!! But the allotment, being beside Strangford Lough, was still a wind tunnel. It could be thirty degrees everywhere else in the country and there it would still be arctic.

Apparently it is only windy when the tide is either coming in or going out. The rest of the time it is calm. Still, it was a lovely day and I was able to supervise the head gardener doing a lot of very good work! I had the excuse of scary woman things but my help in monitoring progress was invaluable I am sure. The octogenarian mother was also there to help.

So what did we find this week? Spinach and runner beans doing very well thank you very much. Parsnips could feed the five thousand and had to be thinned. The Head Gardener said we should give the borlotti beans up as a lost cause and replant them so we did. I did actually help with them this time. honest. We replanted them with Italian beans.

We brought tomatoes for planting out which given the wind tunnel conditions is very optimistic but there ya go.

We did a lot of bed raising! The Head Gardener had gone to B + Q and got lots of lovely rough planks which he measured up in his workshop (our garage, which also doubles as a graveyard for wine bottles etc) and cut. He very considerately did this part on his own for three reasons:

1. I hate going to B + Q - nothing against them, it just brings out the worst in me.
2. My sole joy in going was to laugh at the fact that they sold mole repellent. Well, they probably didnt actually sell very much since WE DON'T HAVE MOLES IN IRELAND. which is why I found it so amusing. Then again, maybe it had just worked! Anyway, the point is that they have stopped selling it.
3. This week for the first time in twenty years I am going to be playing the viola da gamba on my own in public and am being paid for it. This has scared me into practising every day and I knew I had to get it done yesterday and didn't want to leave it until after we had got back from the allotment. In case you are wondering (most people do) the viola da gamba is a very unusual instrument - its closest relative is the cello. Anyway I digress.

So I helped raise the bed. In fact I think my input was vital.

Our allotment-neighbours-behind were there so we were able to chat. They are allotment virgins, a bit like us, so we try and cheer each other up! They, like allotment-neighbour-beside have had their carrot crop destroyed by something, probably slugs. Allotment-neighbour-beside wasn't there which was a first! He usually is, dispensing wisdom and help! We only have one allotment-neighbour-beside that counts because the one on the other side is never there - we have seen him once in three months - and his allotment looks like the savannah grasslands. you would need a machete to get through it. There was at one point a shed there but apparently it was a DIY job from a well-known supermarket and when it got hit by the gale force winds in November the roof came off it and it hasnt been replaced. According to Maurice-the-farmer the roof was last seen three fields away. The remains of the four walls are still there but look permanently as if they are about to collapse. The only sign of anything growing apart from the grass is a very lonely looking raspberry cane.

Our allotment-neighbours-behind told us that one of the compost bins belonging to their neighbour was providing a brand new home for a large brown rat who obligingly put in an appearance. i would think that the derelict site beside ours is a haven for him and come to think of it, that is where is was running from. He nearly ran over my foot. Thankfully all I saw was a shadow otherwise I would still be running myself.

Various solutions to the situation, mostly involving Mr Ratty's demise, are being considered.

We only have two more beds to dig up! And then that is the whole lot done!

So, to sum up:

Time spent: about two hours
Cost of seeds etc: minimal and can't remember anyway
value of produce produced - nil as yet.
social activities - talking to allotment-neighbours-behind. There were a lot more people around - fair weather allotmenteers! There is one person who arrives in a roller (you get a better class of allotmenteers here, you know!) and I am very keen to see the plot where alledgedly (is that how you spell allegedly?) the owner put astroturf down on the paths......WHY???????).

wildlife - Mr Ratty, at close quarters, lots of starlings going after the tractors bringing in the silage, two larks ascending and housemartins or swifts (not sure which), lots of worms, cabbage butterfly. Just think - in the autumn we will have a prime location for watching the return of the brent geese! Whayhay!

No comments: