Idiosyncratic veg growing in the vicar's garden AND in an allotment in the village. A "how not to" guide...

Friday, December 30, 2005

After a solid week of frozen ground, we woke this morning to find it pouring with rain. Perhaps the ground would have softened up? Myself and jules headed down to the allotment this afternoon to discover that unlike the rest of the village, the dirtyhoes patch of land is the most sheltered place in the Midlands! The ground was still hard as rock with a covering of frost even at the height of the day. We mooched about for a bit looking for something to do, but the main work of digging is really what needs to be finished now and there was no chance today. We contemplated pruning back the raspberry canes, but thought we'd better do a bit more research first in case of problems with pruning in these temperatures. Instead we decided to pre-empt our enevitable rabbit pest problem by roadtesting some air rifles down in Burton. Pop! Pop Bang Bang!

Sunday, December 18, 2005


We went to dig today, but the ground was WAY too hard - something to do with temperatures below freezing, I reckon - so instead of digging we did clearing and sorting. Rob removed some more of the broken glass, while I got raking to remove some of the dead bindweed stems. Insidious is an understatement: the damn things have got everywhere. Still, it looks better now, although there's still a LONG way to go before the stuff's even halfway under control.

I also investigated the compost heaps a little further. The bin on the left, although full of grass cuttings and old pine needles, is also wriggling with worms and looking a dark composty colour. I've read various articles about compost, but I've no real understanding of what goes on. I remember something about layering, something to do with mixing carbons with nitrates, and something to do with turning it over to get oxygen in. It's all a bit hit and miss, but I forked over the front two-thirds of the pile, and added a layer of horse manure and newspaper - I'm working on the principle that, whatever I do, it can't get worse! We'll just have to wait and see.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

The aching back is worth it...

At the start of the weekend, the patch looked like this:

By lunch today it was looking far more like this:

The bindweed roots are getting on my tits, though. I won't be sad to see the back of it.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

I was meant to spend an hour writing reports this afternoon, and then head off to the garden to meet Rob and do some digging. My reports took two hours longer than intended and it was already heading for twilight as I pulled on my wellies. When I got there, Rob had just finished de-rooting all of the first bed, so there was much smug celebration and I did a bit of spading to avoid feeling like a total slacker. By the time we'd finished, it was too dark to take a photo - it'll just have to wait until tomorrow, when we're off to burn the bindweed we've dug up so far. It's only been a week, but it's looking good.

Sunday, December 04, 2005

blog virgin!

oooo how exciting!! i've never blogged before, its dirty hoes and i like it!

having provided the workers with a hearty brunch of 2 (yes 2) types of sausage, an over sized piece of bacon, beans, tomatoes, a bottomless cup of tea and soggy toast. i know i know, started toasting too soon, that's no reason to get upset though is it? i thought not...

we set off towards the vicars house with a sense of excitement in our bellys.

plot one was todays task, shouldn't take too long, surely? 2 hours later and big piles of bind weed root and beautiful soil were left in approximately 1/5 of the plot!!! success!

Getting down and dirty

After a hearty brunch, the four of us went to attack the garden. Armed with a fine selection of the vicar's garden tools, we tentatively started removing things, such as bindweed root, tall invasive weed things, thorny rosehips, nettles...

...and our first crop, of ONE ONION!!

By the time we'd finished, the plot looked like this:

And just look at the soil... bindweed root free and as lovely as a (soily) baby's bottom:

The first visit

The plot is big, although we don't know how big because we couldn't be bothered to measure or even pace it out. It looks like this:

Looking up the garden from the compost (slimy grass) heaps

Plot number one, by far the most easily usable

The cold frame, allegedly. More like a high-speed nettle propagator, if you ask me.

Other photos on flickr, dated 29-11-05

The start

"Vegetable gardeners wanted" read the advert in the parish magazine, and visions of neatly-hoed rows of leeks sprang instantly to mind. We'd been after an allotment for some months, but communal veg gardens are like hens' teeth in the village. A quick phone call later to a potential co-digger and I was leaving a burbling message on the vicar's answerphone. Ah yes, I neglected to mention that the garden belonged to the vicar, and he would let us have it for just a small tithe as and when. It seemed ideal. Breathless plans were made, seed catalogues poured over, and we set off to meet the Vicar and inspect his (soon to be our!) vegetable plot. It is big and unused, and had a small bindweed problem that became a very big problem last year when a former veg gardener rotovated it. Muppet. Still, it was soil, and grow-in-able, with just a lot of digging to do before those leeks became reality.