Friday, November 30, 2007

It's A Wrap

Get some popcorn, draw up a chair and click HERE to see the highlights of this past season (excepting the carrots which were '06) in my neck of the woods. Something to warm the cockles - those poor frozen molluscs in the months ahead.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

'The Apple Detective'

If you are interested in old apple varieties, you can 'listen again' to this program. I particularly like the bit when he explains to Helen that those 'sprigs' coming off the main stem are known as branches.

*The photo is one by Harry Cory-Wright which I've had on my bulletin board for many moons.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

The Final Straw

Last evening I got some straw down on the garlic and around the artichokes just ahead of the predicted frost. It was well past dark by the time I got to the allotment but with the clear night and full moon it looked like a day for night scene from the movies. Everything went swimmingly until I realized that I had dropped my specs somewhere and then the whole enterprise seemed a little ill-conceived. It wasn't so bright after all. Half an hour on hands and knees just left me muddy and cold so I abandoned them and went home slightly more miserable than I started out. As there is still a pair on the loose in the garden somewhere from a year and a half ago and another that did a runner on the seafront in the Netherlands, I was more than happy to find them in the morning light - unscathed.
I'm not sure the temperature did drop below 0° last night, but everything is bundled up and ready now for when it does happen.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Swan in Love

"A swan came flying up the Lythe, &, without regarding objects before it, dashed itself against Dorton-house, & fell down stunned. It recovered, & was sold to the miller at Hawkley."
Rev. Gilbert White again 1789

Happily Petra the black swan and the love of her life (a plastic swan boat) who summer on the Aasee will once again be able to winter at the zoo in M√ľnster. Moving day is set for the 5th of December.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Out & About

Tuesday lunchtime I perused a monograph on the war artist Evelyn Dunbar at Hatchard's Book Shop. I've had a post card of 'The Queue at the Fish Shop' on my bulletin board for the past - oh, 5 years now, but have never happened on any of her other paintings. She was hired by the British government to document the war at home particularly the work of the women in the Land Army. The beautiful painting above is 'Pruning at East Malling' which I lifted from the Manchester Art Gallery website. Check out the link for more.

Last night we went along to friend Katherine Tasker's party to celebrate the opening of her deli/cafe 'Lemon Monkey' @ 188 Stoke Newington High Street. During the renovations to the former betting shop they uncovered the original Victorian proprietor's ("W.A.Higgs") hand-lettered signboard well back of the current facade. It compliments her fittings and suits her endeavor to sell locally sourced, home-made comestibles. Although the cupboards were still bare she's due to begin trading next Tuesday. The above is not the final logo but happens to be my favourite of the ones that Michael designed.
And I eagerly anticipate Monday's screening of the documentary 'Beekeeping After War' at the Roxy Bar & Screen followed by a director's Q&A. It was filmed in the Balkans, postNATO blitzkrieg and is free!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Tidy Up

"Brought away Mrs. Snooke's old tortoise, Timothy, which she values so much, & had treated kindly for near 40 years. When dug out of it's hybernaculum, it resented the insult by hissing."
Gilbert White 1780

Most of the weekend was spent raking, weeding, pruning and beating back the brambles. Satisfying toil against unruly nature as Richard Mabey puts it. I'm not leaving it very ruly, but want to get the big work done now rather than turf some little critter like Timothy the Tortoise or Betty the Bumblebee out of his or her hybernaculum in the middle of winter. With the help of the azada (which I can't recommend highly enough) I've grubbed up an area big enough for the planned hen run. This would have taken three times as long using a spade or fork. And then I built an almighty compost heap (my best ever) and moistened it with lashings of dilute widdle. However, rather than illustrate that, the picture below marks the progress of the oats sown 6 weeks ago.

Saturday, November 10, 2007


" I fear that he who walks over these fields a century hence will not know the pleasure of knocking off wild apples. Ah, poor man, there are many pleasures which he will not know."
H.D.Thoreau 'Wild Apples' 1862

Last Saturday I finally got the garlic set out which I got in a trade with Patrick @ Bifurcated Carrots - 'Red Toch' And 'Metechi'. Hopefully I wasn't too late getting them in? I'm planting out the three apples that I grafted back in the spring this weekend. They (2 William Crump and one nameless neighbour) have all grown away quite well I think.
My current project is to grow some from pips. They won't come true of course, the chance seedlings which spring from discarded cores may turn into anything, possibly with echoes from ancient ancestors. In each seed there are lost varieties and potential new ones. Which is what makes me so curious. The 'Reinette de Canada' is thought to be the ancestor of the 'Ribston Pippin'. 'Granny Smith' apparently grew on the compost heap of an Australian woman and 'Keswick Codlin' was found in the garden rubbish at Ulverston Castle. The varieties with words such as seedling or pippin as part of the name have occurred just so.
Well my plan is to grow the pips pictured below and in a few years hence I will plant them in some out of the way locations as I don't have the property to start an orchard. Guerrilla gardening . Once they're fruiting in about 5 or 6 years I'll publish a map of their whereabouts so that everyone can enjoy the results.

Friday, November 02, 2007

Coming Soon...

... to an allotment near you!

*We have just roasted this double-barreled beauty with some potatoes and beetroot - S Weet!