Wednesday, July 25, 2007

It rains for forty days and forty nights

Our courgette plants have been flattened by slugs. Twice. Our beans have been munched. Three times.

But we did get a wonderful crop of strawberries, and one of the advantages of gardening on the side of the hill is that it we haven’t yet been flooded.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

We harvest carrots

Conventional gardening wisdom says that one should sow carrots in the spring, in freely-drained, sandy soil. One can then harvest them from late summer onwards.

We don’t think conventional gardening wisdom is very clever.

We sowed some carrots at the beginning of September in poorly drained heavy clay, and we’re harvesting these lovely straight carrots in April.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

We pretend to be organised

According to our highly scientific plan, we were supposed to start sowing this weekend. However, the soil here in London is still far too wet to work into the mythical ‘fine tilth’ that we have seen on BBC television programmes. All that we can do is stay indoors and file our seeds in a mildy compulsive manner.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Warming the soil

It’s nearly spring, so we thought we’d try to get ahead of nature by warming the soil.

Dan and Amy’s top tips for soil warming:

(1) If you garden on clay, like us, the soil stays cold for ages.
(2) Clear plastic warms the soil faster than black plastic.
(3) It’s warm enough to start sowing once weeds start to grow.
(4) You can look up the temperature a particular seed needs to germinate, but the unpredictability of the British climate makes this meaningless. Decide if the soil needs to be cool, warm, or hot.
(5) There’s a useful weather forecast which tells you the soil temperature for your area.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

We cause climate change

After we’d cut the trees down, we ended up with a huge number of twigs and small branches littering the allotment. What is the responsible thing to do in our uncertain age?

(1) Leave them to decay naturally. This will keep the greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere for longer, potentially protecting people who live on very flat land next to the sea. The wood will eventually turn in carbon dioxide, but not quite so soon.

(2) Burn them, creating an artificial spike in global temperatures, thus making world leaders panic and start building wind farms.

Friday, February 02, 2007

We become Archaeologists

We’re digging over the new allotment at the moment, and we have unearthed an ancient landfill site.

The soil is filled with chunks of metal, margarine tubs from the 1980s, and a large sheet of plastic which has disintegrated into very small fragments.

This is a nuisance, and we probably won’t be able to get rid of every single piece. The soil is very sticky and full of couch grass, bramble and bindweed roots, so it’s fairly tough going. But we’re grateful we’re not in East London, where they’re digging up radioactive waste.

Thursday, January 04, 2007


Dan's father gave us a bit of help weeding the new allotment, by cutting down a few trees.

There’s a dangerously large willow weed that Southwark Council have told us we can’t remove, because its roots are holding the hill together. But they let us take off all the branches, which was kind.

Dan spoke to an allotment holder who thought we should pretend we didn’t understand, and we should just cut it down anyway.

But that might be reckless. One of the old boys says that some years ago there was a mudslide here, and most people’s allotments ended up on the London to Brighton railway.

Amy and Dan expand

The allotment next to ours has been in a miserable state.

Each winter, an aspiring Monty Don was plucked from the allotment waiting list. Each spring, they purchased an exciting set of new tools. Each summer, the plot started to increasingly resemble a railway embankment. Each autumn, the committee informed the poor souls they were no longer welcome.

So the chaps on the committee have very kindly let us have some of it. Desperation, we think.

The people who abandoned the plot have got a point. The weeds are offensively successful – a mess of couch grass, brambles, bindweed, and a twenty foot poplar tree. The soil has no structure and no fertility, and any lump of it would perform particularly well on a pottery wheel.

But in spite of this, we have some more land. Huzzah

It's cold and dark

Perhaps sure you were thinking that our silence on this blog meant we’d either given up on the project or been killed, but we’re happy to announce that we’re quite alive and that our harvesting has been going much better than our blogging.

We had a good harvest, in spite of terrible weather. The tomatoes and fine beans did particularly well.

We didn’t enter our produce into the village show, because we ate the lot, and because we don’t live in a village, and because we’re not 85.

Next year, we’re planning to grow more than fifty varieties, including ridiculous things like chillis and aubergines which will never survive outdoors.