Thursday, March 31, 2011


Have you ever read a book about vegetable cultivation? The chaps who write them always like to advise their readers to improve the soil with “well-rotted manure”.

This worries me.

I can only assume that they copied the sentence from a Victorian or Edwardian gardening manual, whose cities were swarming with horses, helpfully leaving tonnes of the stuff steaming by the roadside.

In south London, there are no horses to be found, and it is entirely impossible to get hold of any manure at all, well-rotted or otherwise.

Our allotment site used to have regular deliveries of manure from a distant stable. I thought these had stopped.

But now I have discovered the horrible truth. Take a look at this picture, secretly taken on a low-quality camera from far away.

In this scene, a tipper truck has just dropped off some manure, and you can see some plotholders, swarming around it like hungry pigeons. Within five minutes all the decent manure had gone.

This is not fair, because the people in the picture all have plots at the bottom of the hill close to the manure delivery. Also, they are retired, so can spend all day waiting their sheds, ready to pounce.

I am at a loss. What should I do?

Saturday, March 05, 2011


Today I spent a couple of hours getting rid of our green manure and organic mulch, which the other plotholders have mockingly been referring to as “weeds and leaves”.

I then went home and hoovered our flat, a similar sized area, which took less than five minutes.

It occurred to me that what the world really needs is the allotment equivalent of a vacuum cleaner. Not a leafvac, but something that would pull up the top layer of vegetation and slugs, and collect it in a convenient compostable bag.

I suppose it would resemble a massive strimmer that collects its own strimmings.

Has anyone invented this? If not, I am going on Dragons' Den.