Monday, 13 July 2009


I dug up all my garlic today. It was about to flower - just about every plant had a spindly flower stalk growing out of it. I waited till there were no Italians around to criticise what I was doing, or to laugh at the size of my bulbs (they are very small). I didn't know whether I ought to leave them longer, but we've been lucky with the weather, and I didn't want the garlic getting sodden if we have rain and going mouldy. Back at home, I made some French dressing with the garlic and some wine vinegar and olive oil and doused Angelo's infernal lettuce in it. It is delicious, but you can't eat it the night before you have to go to work.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Cathedrals for the veg

These are the tunnels I've been building out of net curtains, bamboo poles and bent coat hangers to stop the butterflies laying their eggs on my brassicas. The Brussels sprouts were nurtured under fleece, and grew like triffids. I have never grown brassicas so fleshy and immaculate as these - but I can't believe I'll manage to keep all the pests off. The whitefly have already wheedled their way in.


Someone planted this rosemary bush on my allotment while I wasn't looking!

Chris, Plot 334, arson.

This is Chris, whom I met today. I hadn't noticed him before, but that's because his plot is way down the end over the other side. He rolled up in his Land Rover and started telling me this horror story about how his shed had been burnt down last year. Since then, he said, he hasn't been able to use his plot because the firemen said it would be too polluted. In his shed were sacks of fertilizer and plastic sacks and other objects. The smoke from these was so noxious that the firemen had to don masks to fight the fire.

Chris said the fire had been set after an incident involving four teenagers/children. He'd seen them on the allotment and told them to leave. They were very lippy and refused, but he was adamant and they went. Days later, their father saw him coming out of the allotments and came and stood in front of his Land Rover, saying "Come on then!" and threatened him because of the way he'd spoken to his children (which wasn't angry or rough). He replied "That's what I call dragging up your kids, not bringing them up." The bloke blustered back saying, "I know which your allotment is!" A few days later, his shed had been burnt down.

He told the police the whole story afterwards, but they said, "If they're from Tree Courts, you haven'g got a hope in hell of nailing them." What a bloody attitude - 'let them get on with it'! It just about sums up the official apathy where the yobs round here are concerned.

Pigeon peas

Angelo gave me a huge bag of pigeon peas. The plants look just like broad beans, but the pods are much smaller, and the peas are bigger than ordinary peas, but taste like broad beans without the charm. You feel they are doing you good, but so they ought to after you've spent so long shelling them - they're very fiddly. It will take me two weeks to eat the ones Angelo has given me. He also gave me about six lettuces because they were about to bolt, which means I have to put mine on the back burner (while they bolt too). Today, Joe, his brother, offered me more pigeon peas and lettuces. I politely refused.

Andy, Plot 352a

This is Andy, the new tenant of Plot 352a.

Water trough

My new water trough - hurrah!

Thursday, 9 July 2009


I have been struggling for the past few days to get into my blogging account after such a long time, and have only just succeeded.

Of course, we're half-way through the season, and I've not written a thing about how it's going. Where do I start? Maybe with a summary, or a bullet-point list of all the important new developments, which I can come back to later.


  • Water troughs! Hurrah, hurrah! The council has finally got round to installing the promised water trough on MY allotment! July 1st was Water Trough day, and when it was finally up and running, so many people tried to use it all at once that it was nearly emptied and they then complained that it wasn't filling up fast enough.

  • Gli italiani. The wonderful brothers Joe and Angelo are proving excellent neighbours, and I have an open invitation to borrow Joe's zappa (italian hoe), which has made life so much easier. Angelo has promised to bring me one back from Italy in August, and Joe said that when someone asked who I was, he said I was his cousin.

  • New arrivals. Two of note: Ken (opposite me, Plot 348), and Andy (a little further down on the other side, Plot 352a). Ken has a half-plot and plenty of family members to help him work it. He is very friendly and chatty and has taken early retirement from Royal Mail. He's on holiday in Scotland at the moment. Andy is from Glasgow and is a self-employed computer programmer. He is also very chatty and great fun. He has charmed Angelina, and even made her laugh (she usually moans about everything). He is thinking of retraining as a teacher. I think he'd make a good one. He knows nothing about gardening, but is making a good go of his half-plot, thanks to hard work and many donated plants.

  • The family-from-hell are still causing problems. My neighbours the other side say they have a ladder which they use to get over the fence on to his shed roof and down via his picnic table, and that they have now stolen two old doors which he was using to hold his manure in place. They know this because their picnic table was broken and they saw white paint on top of the fence.

  • Lots and lots of other things, but that's enough for now.

The pictures show what the Family-from-hell did to the lovely privet bush that was overhanging my shed. Big John actually saw him climb over the fence to cut it back on MY SIDE.