May 2013

From My Allotment Diary (Sun. May 19th, 2013)

May 19, 2013 by BigGee   Comments (4)

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An almighty clear-out of the seedling plants in the polytunnel this weekend. imageThe poor runner beans, who were desperate to escape the environment, have moved to new lodgings out side. They've suffered badly because it's been too hot for them inside but too cold outside. Damned if you do and damned if you don't has been the story so far. Outside - over the last week or two - the temperatures have plummeted in the nights, and in the daytime the vicious north west winds would have scorched them (I've experienced that in the past by putting them out too early in May). This year it's been scorching inside the polytunnel - crimping and cooking the plants that don't like heat, but not 'summerish' enough to put them outside.

imageThis week they'll be transplanted to their permanent home, now that I've got my bean frame up, I hope they'll like their neighbours the Pea family one side, with the Onions & Shallot families on the other side! I really must stop personalising my plants this way - I might get labelled 'odd'!

imageSo the ol' polytunnel is now looking decidedly spacious, with many of it's occupants now outside. just in time to get the borders cleared for the permanent residents for the summer. Next out will be the sweetcorn, pumpkins, courgettes, outdoor cucumbers & French beans. It never ends!

My time on the lottie this afternoon will be otherwise deployed visiting Mam who lives 15 miles away. Que sera, sera - we have to get our priorities right I suppose. Left to my own devices I'd live on the lottie. In fact I was threatened by Josie last night  that she would move my bed down there if I didn't come home! Mind you, it was nearly 10.30 in the evening (aren't the nights getting so much lighter?!).

I'd left my mobile in the house, she'd rung to see where I was - because it was so late, got no answer, then started to panic because she couldn't get hold of me (images of me lying face down between my seed beds - you get the picture).

So, she rang Stephen my mate - guessing that if I was OK I'd be with him. In fact, he & I were putting the world to rights leaning over the gate, as we were leaving (as one does) and like two little boys (you know the saying "men are only boys with more expensive toys") we'd lost track of time while nattering - hence the lateness. In fact it was all Stephen's fault (that's my story & I'm sticking to it) because he came down to the site late, after visiting his wife in hospital - she's had an operation this week but should be out today. He ate his 'chippy' meal from the paper in my polytunnel (he's been in bachelor mode for nearly a week now). Anyway, afterwards - as it was such a lovely evening, he suddenly decided at about 9 o'clock that he was going to earth up his spuds. So not wanting to see him down there till the early hours of the morning I went to help him - isn't that what friends are for? I ran my 'Little Tilly' between the rows, whilst he followed with a shovel. Moral of the story? DON'T start earthing up potatoes at 9.00pm! It takes longer than 15 minutes!

All's well that ends well. Now today, when sensible people do their allotment gardening in the sunshine, he & I have to go on visiting chores. Feels like a bit of deserved punishment really! Maybe an hour this evening . . . . . ?



From My Allotment Diary (Fri. April 17th, 2013)

May 17, 2013 by BigGee   Comments (1)

A disjointed couple of weeks if ever there was. Josie's brother passed away on the first of this month, which put a big damper on things. Bank Holiday Saturday then followed with a badly timed nasty little showdown with one of the younger lunatics (he wears a secretary badge) that now run our allotment site. I won't go into details, but as some of you know, our allotment site is split into two gangs. We have 17 plots,  seven are occupied by decent gardeners who get on well and do things as they should be done in peace and harmony, helping each other and enjoying each other's company. Then there's nine who are a mixture of Glastonbury rejects (hippies & tree-huggers) a couple of no hopers who sit on the fence, and the rest are made up of a clique of Yacht Club boozers who only really want a plot so that they can tell their cronies at the bar that they have one (it's a status symbol to say that they are into the latest trend). Then there's one who has just been parachuted in from nowhere onto a plot. He was not even on the waiting list, but it seems he has some connection with the secretary. He's strimmed the plot, put down a black sheet and tells us he's going to leave it till next spring before he starts! It beggars belief.

Anyway, as the true allotmenteers are in the minority, the other lot have voted their own into office (hence why I say the lunatics are in charge of the asylum) and since then things have gone to the dogs - badly. It's basically turned into a do as you please anarchy down there. Along with two others, I officially complained by letter to the committee last September and for my trouble I was given a letter to evict me off my plot in October for daring to do such a thing. Well I won't go into details, but suffice to say the whole thing has gone to litigation. However, they have ignored my solicitor and decided instead to try and harass me off the site instead. As I have a legally binding tenancy agreement that rolls over from one year to the next; my plot is probably the best kept on the site and I have not breached any of my tenancy rules AND paid all my dues on time, there's a gnashing of teeth amongst the other lot, not to mention a large dollop of jealousy & envy. So, having run out of ideas on how to get rid of the thorn in their side (as they see me as the ring leader of the good guys) they are now trying to harangue me into submission.

This came to a head the other Saturday when the 'secretary' confronted me asking what I was doing down there, when was I leaving, demanding that I leave immediately & telling me I was trespassing! This was not done in a very subtle way, he followed me & Josie around for a good quarter of an hour ranting and raving. Others had done the same in the preceding weeks. Enough being enough I telephoned the police. On turning up the police officer put him in his place and insisted that if the committee had a good enough reason to evict me, then they had to do it properly (as I had already said many times to them & my solicitor had also told them by letter), The PC also cautioned him about harassment under Section 7 of the Harassment Act  and told him that he was to tell all members that I was to be left alone and that the only option for them is to take the legal route. I rest my case! This is the very thing you don't want in a place where you go to relax and unwind from the everyday stresses of life. Talk about "allotment wars"! We'll see how things develop from here on. Enough about the negative things.

The potatoes are out and one row should be ready for earthing up in the next week or so. The other 5 rows are also starting to show signs of life. They've been a bit slow to peek through, but I guess that's because I didn't chit them this year. I also buried them a bit deep due to the cold nights. I'm sure they'll appreciate my kind loving care & consideration for their creature comforts!

The pea netting is up outside & waiting for 'tenants', the peas themselves are still in pots in the polytunnel - they've been extremely slow to germinate, I'll sow the rest directly into the soil.

The runner beans are begging to be released into the big wide world outside the polytunnel, they're starting to look a bit sorry for themselves inside in their little toilet roll pots - they're probably feeling the 'squeeze'. The French beans are also coming along, they don't mind being holed up in the heat - being a tad more delicate.

Sweet corn has been a massive success - germination wise - with a 99% germination rate. that's good, they were suicidal last year & didn't even want to sprout.

Toms are slowly coming along, but they are slower than usual, why is a mystery. You'd think they'd enjoy the same environment as the sweet corn. Who knows the strange mysteries behind these things.

The cucurbits are also slow, but getting there. Big fluctuations in imagetemperature are their biggest enemy. Some fly off others seem reluctant to get going. Why should one spaghetti squash burst into life and fly off to a height of 4 inches when it's 5 brothers & sisters are just struggling to make daylight? Strangely, in the polytunnel, the melon seedlings seem to be racing ahead of the courgettes - another strange anomaly. It's a head scratch!

The famous "V" (or inverted "A") frame bean support is up and 20 of the 40 canes in place. Finishing the task will be the first job on my list today. I'll post some pics later.

WEEDS - I think it's going to be a bumper season for them this year. They've just burst into life over the last two weeks millions of them!! So it's time for the Dutch hoe. Chick-weed has become a pandemic in certain parts of my plot, forming a carpet of tiny plants overnight. Where the hell all the seeds have come from I don't know - mind you having overgrown weed infested plots around you doesn't help the cause.

Right I'm off to pack my bag & fill my flask. I'm home alone today as Josie's gone out for the day to Carmarthen with her friend - so as it's nice & sunny I'm off down the allotment.


A Sad Blog - May 1st 2013

May 1, 2013 by BigGee   Comments (2)

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It's May day today, and it's certainly good weather for catching up with all the sowing and planting on the lottie. Lots of things in, lots more to go. It's very slow though, the soil hasn't really warmed up fully, because of the cold nights. In the polytunnel it gets very hot in the day (too warm at times) but then with plunging temperatures at night the germination rate is not constant, but rather erratic.

I was down there yesterday & had a good day - work wise, although my heart wasn't really in it. My brother-in-law Paul (Josie's younger brother) - who's had lymphoma - had deteriorated. Josie went up to Merseyside to see him yesterday by public transport - quite a journey from here by bus & rail. The news wasn't good. Then I had a phone call early this morning from her, to say he'd passed away a few minutes earlier. I'm so glad she went up yesterday, because had she left it till today, as she had originally planned, then she'd have been too late. It all happened so quickly, he went downhill in about a week, and from the news that was filtering through over the last few days we suspected that it may have been a bit touch & go. He was only 58.

What's actually killed him is neutropenic sepsis, a condition brought on by a critical depletion of his white blood cells (through a destroyed immune system) following a course of intensive chemotherapy. Ironic really, having a fatal complication following treatment to treat a life threatening cancer condition.

We've made big advances, but we're not quite there yet, when it comes to cancer. I had an uncle die when he was 19, also of non Hodgkin's lymphoma. That was in 1947 - in those days it was just a case of going home to wait to die, with no treatment at all available. At least Paul had treatment, unfortunately on this occasion the still crude methods used, where you destroy most of a patient's immune system to halt the cancer growth can also be fatal. It's all very sad.

I'm not sure what to do today. I've got loads to do, and perhaps it would take my mind off things if I went down the lottie, but I haven't really got the stomach for it. To be perfectly honest I feel a bit guilty just getting on with things, especially things you enjoy as a hobby at this early stage of things. I'll have to see how the day pans out. There's another complication in going down the lottie, my mate Stephen will probably be down there later - when he comes home from work. These things are a bit delicate for him, his 22 year old daughter died just over a year ago and that's still a bit fresh.

I personally hate this sort of thing. I've had my fair share of death experiences, being a past widower left with two young children after my first wife died. I dread the funeral. Whenever I can, I try not to go to the things, unless I really have to. On this occasion I obviously will have to go it would be indecent not to - given how close a relative he was. So it looks like I'll be heading north to Birkenhead in the next few days. not looking forward to it.




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