Friday, 3 April 2009

Apart from that...

Apart from that, Spring is here, and I've regained my enthusiasm, and am spending hours and hours down the allotment. It's mostly spent digging couch grass, but it's pleasant enough in the sun. I get endless advice from the Italians. One day, I had no fewer than three of them tell me I should be using a fork not a spade. I don't think they realised that my soil is so compacted, damp and clayey that it sticks to a fork, and you just end up with a great big lump on it and break your back.

Anyhow, it's getting dryer by the day, and I can use a fork now, though I still have to spend hours picking couch roots out of each clod. I had a bonfire tonight and burned a dustbin-full. And of course, it's springing up immortal and the top end is starting to look as if I never dug it at all. I'm contemplating Glyphosate (aaagh!), on that end at least, because I'll never conquer it otherwise. I was going to use ammonium sulphamate, only to find it's been banned by the EU, despite being safer than Glyphosate, and is now only available illegally over the internet. And of course it is expensive. The fact is, at the moment I can't afford either, so it's all academic.

Meanwhile, I do a bit a day, and though I've got a lot left that I haven't even touched yet, I managed to turn over a lot before the winter weather got too bad, and that broke down (on top at least) to a fine hoe-able tilth. So I had a good surface for my seeds, albeit riddled at both sides of the plot with lurking weed roots.

More bloody vandalism!

I went down the allotment early three days ago, only to find that the padlock had been cut off with a pair of bolt cutters. Chris tells me today that another shed was burnt down recently, though I haven't seen it. I phoned the Allotment Officer as soon as I saw what they'd done to the padlock, but she can't have got my message, because it wasn't dealt with until the next day (she only works part-time). She's put a temporary padlock on there, but we've already been given new keys for the new locks they'll be fitting on May 1st. These will be super-duper burglar-proof locks, but knowing our vandals, they'll find some way to get in and cause misery. (The picture shows the remains of the old padlock, which was welded on to the chain, and the new one, which is just slotted in).
I don't know what can be done about this problem. I know the Allotment Officer reports it to the Police, but what do they do? The problem is that a group of youths from Pinehurst is targeting the allotments as the venue for their drunken/drugged rampages. Putting up a fence and padlocking the gate just seems to incite them. They would argue it's because they've nothing to do, but that's a pathetic excuse. The fact is, they find it funny to burn things down, and to break into our shop and when they don't find money, to burn that down too. They probably talk about it next day, saying, "You should have seen the flames - they were sky high! It was funny as fuck!" What can you do against that sort of mentality.
I said to Chris, I'd like to go down there at night with a shotgun. He said, I think there's a lot of people would like to do that. But we've got to leave it up to our Allotment Officer to sort out, though God knows what she can do. It's enough to make you want to set up a posse of vigilantes, though. Big John said he had his shed broken into, too, though his shed is the other end, and could have been a sensible thief who wanted to find something to sell. I can understand that. But these kids - or rather, their ringleader - is, I think, sick, and needs to be taken out of circulation before he sets fire to a place with someone living in it. He's obviously a true fire-bug, and enjoys setting fires in a pathological way.