Monday, 11 October 2010

In a bind

Every year, about this time I despair of my allotment. On the whole the year tends to start well with a tight rein on the planned lay out (I like a plan) in the Spring, then a wavering but nonetheless apparent effort to prevent the onslaught of weeds in the growing season, but in the autumn things tend to go to pot. My nemesis is the bindweed (Convolvulus sepium) which made my plot look like a set from Sleeping Beauty when I got it all those years ago, and despite great efforts on my part it never goes far, always being the first thing to throw shoots in the spring and the last thing to grow confidently into the colder months.

I have to say my spirits have been particularly low this autumn despite the very kind comments made by Paul Mason of SEL member, Parent Promoted Foundation with whom I had my first business meeting on the allotment this Friday. I had a good meeting with Richmond Council Cabinet in the morning talking about social enterprise, and had carved a couple hours for horticulture in the afternoon before school pick up when Paul asked for a quick catch up. As he lives close to my allotment, we fixed a time to discuss the concept of Community Schools whilst I dug for Britain. Paul, a new allotment holder, was interested in what I was doing and was extremely complementary about the site. But to me its looks tired, exhausted even and scruffy (or is that me?) and certainly not worthy of its 2009 title of Allotment of the Year.

In a fit of pique I dug out my raspberries, commenced the back breaking task of double digging the bed which I continued on Saturday. As you can see from the shot below the bindweed goes nearly 2 spits down and has complete mastery of the soil. Shame you can’t bloody eat it. If anyone has top tips for its removal let me know. I have tried systemic weed killer, digging, putting the plant in a plastic bag and poisoning the leaves and shouting rude words at it, none of it seems to work although the shouting makes me feel better.

On the upside we are eating our first pumpkin, in risotto and stew, the chard is going great guns and the tomatoes are turning red on the window sill at the rate of 4 or 5 pounds a week. I picked the last of the blackberries and made them into a torte yesterday and as part of our latest economy drive I dug out my Nanna’s Yorkshire recipe to make scones from the half pint of cream that had soured in the fridge. Waste-not-want not and they were yummy disappearing almost immediately with the last few getting the thumbs up from the SEL team today (Recipe available on request).

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