Monday, 6 May 2013

Sun, Songbirds and... decomposing marrows

Gathering Rhubarb in the Sun
Just another absolute stonker of a day in allotment land today. Light cloud with periods of bright (and hot!) sunshine made for basically perfect conditions. I've managed to pick up just a touch of sunburn; you never hear of it!

We didn't get a huge amount of stuff done, unless you count reading the New Statesman and drinking coffee as doing stuff, which I do, so actually it was quite an action packed day all told. There was a feature in the NS on how we (Britain) should be more like Germany. Is allotmenteering a thing in Germany? If so, I bet they have some good, tidy allotments in Germany. Anyway, I'm digressing wildly; I sowed some little gem lettuce, black radishes and red radishes in seed trays, put pre-sown trays of beetroot and sweetcorn into our mini-greenhouse and dug a small patch into which I sowed with Purple-top Milan Turnips. Kasia came down later, planting out Nasturtiums and picking some rhubarb, which will be turned into cordial presently, after I saw a recipe for it on Niamh Shield's excellent site.

Before Kasia made it down to the plot I got some serious reading going. We usually take a radio and tune into 6 Music, but I'd forgotten it so was left with just the birds. A couple of Wrens were in fantastic voice, they're stunningly loud considering their size, and I love how varied their tunes are.

Very high gob-to-size ratio
Just as I was really getting into it, someone in the adjoining park started bashing away on a bongo drum, quite poorly. The Wrens, clearly realising that they were being drowned out by a vastly inferior musical act, moved on.

I mentioned yesterday that friends of ours, James and Rosie, have taken on a plot at Nunsmoor allotments too. I think that, in the fullness of time, they've scored a real winner. There is the remains of some serious greenhouse infrastructure, an abandoned but still-alive vine, and the soil seems to break down to a lovely even tilth, lacking a good deal of the characteristic clag of our patch. All that said, there is the usual array of weird leftovers from the previous owner's abandonment. They won't be short of a bit of broken glass or two, and the shed had in it the corpses of what would once have been some pretty capacious marrows.

James and the Giant Rotten old Marrow
Intriguingly, some of them, despite clearly being putridly rotten to the core, had pretty much maintained their shape. Others, like great vegetal supernovae, had completely collapsed in on themselves.

A shell of it's former self. Weird.
Anyway, that's enough decomposing rankness for one weekend. I'm both envious and sympathetic of Rosie and James; they've a hell of a lot of digging ahead, but the feeling of finally getting more or less on top of things for the first time can't be beat.

I hope you've had as good a bank holiday weekend as us; weather-wise, it really has been phenomenal up here, totally reaffirming why we do this vegetable thing in the first place. Have a good week.


  1. Could your wrens be dunnocks? At this time of year they love sitting up somewhere high and producing a cascade of sound a bit like a wren. We have got one in our back garden.

    1. Hmm, looking at that pic again i'm not so sure about that one. There were defo some wrens about though; tiny little things with upright tails.

  2. Well, thank you for sharing the giant rotten squashes, with an homage to Roald Dahl. Life can't be all tulips and cherry blossoms. I think what you call marrow we call zucchini, but I am not sure.

    1. Jason, it's a bit complicated! What you call zucchini, we call courgette, that's for sure. I used to think that, once massive and flabby, a courgette is called a marrow, but I think what we would call a marrow is actually a different species. Either way, they're all variations on the genus Cucurbita. Confused yet?!

  3. Our bank holiday weekend was great weather wise too and I got plenty achieved on the allotment. I remember purchasing a shed from an allotment holder who was giving up and finding squash beyond it's be honest the dust they gave off was kind of choking!!


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