11th May 2011 – In the studio, the cultivation of Comfrey and Sweet Potato plants in glass jars continues. The Sweet Potato’s rhizomatic roots were accumulating in to an amazing mass at one end of the tuber, whilst at the other end of the tuber the vine leaves also sprouted. Soon it will be time to plant the Sweet Potato in to soil. Sweet Potatoes can take from four to six months to develop a substantial vine and tubers in the UK climate. Bob Flowerdew recommends growing the vine vertically in order to save energy and space. A vine that spreads in all directions horizontally across the Plot appeals to Ella Montt, but she will endeavor to grow the Sweet Potato in both formats, horizontally and vertically as part of the Plot. Back at the fixed up greenhouse in another location, other Sweet Potatoes are preparing themselves for this particular experiment. Three more tubers were sitting in glass jars of water, starting to grow roots and a fourth was discovered developing life-like veins in the draw of the refrigerator. The veins suggested that the Sweet Potato was about to mutate in to a vibrant new life form. On 16th May, a shift occurred, the four Sweet Potatoes were transplanted to soil in separate pots in the fixed up greenhouse to continue their process of cultivation. On the 17th May the rooting Comfrey and Sweet Potato were removed from the studio, they journeyed (in a bicycle pannier) to Allotment Plot 326 and then made another journey to a waiting area in anticipation of their next move.
On Friday 13th May, having gazed in to her crystal ball for what seemed like an eternity, Ella Montt chose to see the day as auspicious rather than ominous and carefully selected plants from the fixed up greenhouse to be transplanted in to new growing positions. The view in the crystal ball that held the uncertain answers to the weather conditions seemed changeable and still cloudy. Ella Montt remained unconvinced that the chance of frost was unlikely, but as it was approaching mid May the risk in planting out frost tender plants was diminishing and so a chance that there would be no or minimal frost damage should be taken. Freak weather occurrences can occur from time to time, snow in May, hail in June, but the crystal ball did not contain that kind of information.
Ella Montt arrived at Allotment Plot at MERL and examined the Plot. The first Comfrey plant had been partially eaten probably by slugs or snails. At least six of the Sunflower plants and three of the Cosmos plants had revived and survived the drought conditions. The Plot was now dominated by the flowering green manure plant Phacelia Tanacetifoli, which was attracting several different types of bees. William Morris arrived at the Plot he had stopped to rest from rowing his boat upriver to Nowhere on the Thames in search of some early haymaking activity. After starring at the Plot intently WM asked Ella Montt if she may design a wall paper for his collection. Then he wrapped himself in his carpet and fell in to a slumber underneath the Mulberry Tree.
Ella Montt had to remove some of the plant material Phacelia Tanacetifolia, because it was obstructing the light from the Broad Beans and also the amount of Bee activity was making it difficult to work around the Plot. (The Broad Beans are nearly ready for their first harvest). The discarded plant material was placed in the Brick Composter to decompose in to a different kind of vital matter. Plenty of flowering plants were left for the Bees to continue their processes. Ella Montt fetched the watering can from the shed and watered the Plot. Although it had rained on the 6th and 7th of May drought was still persistent. Ella Montt spun around and transformed her work wear and identity, (see video evidence). The identity of an allotment holder is no longer predictable.
The Peas could be seen growing through the netting, some plants reached out their tendrils to catch on to the net for support. A snail was found on a Pea plant. The snail was removed from the Plot to the other side of the garden and placed in the wild area.
Packets of salad seeds were opened and a mixture of varieties were combined and then scattered in a row between the Onions and Lady Eve’s Potatoes. The seeds were: Oriental Giant Red Mustard, Mizuna, and Tokyo Bekana, Rocket Wild and Rucola, Lettuce Lollo Rosso, Brun d’hiver, Marvel of the Four Seasons, (Red) Roxy and Solix.
Ella Montt then planted 9 Sweetcorn True Gold seedlings to one side of a row of Broad Beans and added 3 more Climbing Bean plants to each of the 4 Climbing Bean bamboo pyramids (the 5th pyramid has Dwarf Beans planted next to it). The ground was then prepared amongst the Garlic for planting Squash and Courgette plants. One of each of the following plants were planted: Squash Big Max, Black Futsu, Buttercup, (Pumpkin) Cinderella, Fictor F1, Green Hokkaido, (Pumpkin) Jack O’Lantern, Marina Di Chioggia, Musquee de Provence, and Uchiki Kuri, Courgette Patriot F1 and two Courgette Cocozelle.
It was a cloudy day without much sun, rain levels for the time of year were still exceptionally low. The earth is very dry under its surface.
At Allotment Plot 326 bags of Spinach are being harvested on a regular basis. Two bags were harvested on the 16th May: 1 x 1lb = 420g and 1 x 1lb 2oz = 460g. This has been an ongoing event for the last 4 weeks.