Saturday, 16 July 2011

Seeing red: Do you think Ms Brooks would benefit from an allotment?

Seeing red

No matter how stressed you are and how badly things are going wrong, spend some time on an allotment and you can't fail to put the world to rights.
On an allotment, weeds can be pulled out and burnt, pests destroyed and not only do you get to pick your own fruit but you can make jewel-like jam with it, ticking that hunter-gatherer box in spades (pardon the pun).

I had a wonderful day today getting to grips with the land and feeling my own work-related stress melt away. The plot is reaching its most productive state, which is a satisfying moment and as I looked around me I could almost hear the growth and could certainly smell it.

July is a tricky time. Work is busy, horribly busy as it turns out, the kids are at home more, holidays are coming around and the weeds become the stuff of fairy tales, their growth outstripping the fruit and vegetables around them. To be honest it's all gone a bit Pete Tong down at plot 31 as I've been missing in action for two weeks just as the strangle hot/cold, wet/dry weather has seen some nasty bugs take hold.

Making redcurrent jelly

That reminds me of a funny tweet I saw last week from of all people, Gwyneth Paltrow, dissing crazy English weather for being freezing and then boiling; she commented that at least she felt ready for the menopause.

Gwyneth may be ready for the change but I'm not sure my tomatoes are. They seem to have succumbed to septoria leaf spot, or possibly early blight, either way it's pretty serious. I removed as much of the foliage as I dared and sprayed what was left. My plan is to give them another week and if they don't perk up, they will have to be burnt. The plant in the picture has been removed to prevent infection to the others, You have to quickly remove the source plant, usually a weak performer, to stop the disease spreading to those plants baring the good fruit (see where I am going with this!?).
I picked the last of the broad beans, keeping some of the grotty pods as well, because a pod with mouldy beans can also contain pristine ones. The edible ones just need rescuing before the disease or pest in question marches down to polish them off.

I cleared the ground and put some late pumpkins in, which may do something by the time the weather turns cold although I have left it too late to break my own record of a 76lb Dill's Atlantic  Giant. Here's hoping we get something for Halloween. They will be in the bed next to my mini field of sunflowers which I think works as I always associate sunflowers and pumpkins as the jewels of the late summer allotment. While I was working that front bed to get it ready for the pumpkins, a number of fellow allotmenteerers commented on my abundant showing of apples on the run of espaliered trees that flank my front beds. It's always lovely to get complements and I hope the remedial work I did five weeks ago has reversed my fortunes, but we won't be able to tell if my apples are rotten to the core until they are ready for picking.

You see an allotment contains all of life's dramas and lessons and in playing God you get to decide, sometimes, how the story ends. If only the rest of life was so straightforward.

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