Category Archives: Compost

Field Mouse, Potato

26th March 2012 – At Allotment Plot 326, Ella Montt removed items that were cluttering up the shed and in doing so disturbed a Field Mouse habitat. A Mouse exited the shed in the bottom of a big tub that had drainage holes around its base, after a few moments hesitation the Mouse escaped from the tub by squeezing through one of the holes. Then the Mouse ran across the Plot and disappeared down a hole next to the netted area of over wintered cabbage plants. Ella Montt had discovered many Mouse network holes across the Plot. She much preferred the Mice to larger rodent creatures.

Ella Montt moved the patterned carpet and repositioned it so that she had access to the soil next to the Broad Beans, Onions and Garlic. The soil was dug over. The left arm of the digger had suffered a fracture in December 2011 and was not as strong as it had been prior to this happening; battle with bramble rhizomes was now more difficult. Covering the soil whilst not in plant production was necessary to thwart bramble invasion. Ella Montt planted some more Broad Bean seeds. The seeds seemed vibrant and ready for growth activation. Parsnip seeds were planted next to the Broad Beans.

Plot 326’s soil was starting to crack, because of lack of rain. The pile of apple tree branch wood had dried to tinder. Ella Montt repositioned the woodpile, so that she could fold back the ground cover beneath it to examine the soil, which had been covered over the winter. The soil was ready for planting, so the covering was replaced to wait for the planting activity to commence. It was essential that the soil was not left uncovered, because the heat from the sun would evaporate any moisture contained with in it.

Seeds Planted: Broad Bean Hangdown Green 1 row x 10 seeds; Parsnip Halblange White 3 rows (an unspecified amount of seeds).

29th March 2012 – Allotment Plot at MERL’s soil was starting to harden. Ella Montt forced a hand fork in to the ground and finished planting the row of EKB Peas. Non-human wildlife is eager to find food so any germinating seeds that rise from the soil when the plot is unattended, will be at great risk and will probably be eaten before the plants have time to mature. One frost damaged Globe Artichoke plant had survived from last year and was starting to revive.

The sky was blue and cloudless apart from the trails from aeroplanes. The temperature was pleasantly warm, almost like a summer day, however it was still March. On the Island, Human purchases of Water Butts were reported to be up by 800%, yet there was still no rain to fill the Butts. At another location water was saved after utensil cleaning activity to be deposited on the soil surrounding plant life in the garden.

Ella Montt took the garden fork and removed some of the dried plant material from the Brick Composter and placed it in the wheelbarrow. The plant material had yet to fully decompose, because lack of moisture was preventing this. EB stepped out of the reading room window and joined Ella Montt at the Plot. Together they dug the soil over and made trenches for potatoes to be planted in the Plot. The Potatoes were placed in the ground. Ella Montt used the garden spade to shovel the new soil from the Brick Composter on to the Plot to cover the newly planted Potatoes. EB earthed the Potatoes up. The remaining dried plant material was emptied from the wheelbarrow back in to the Brick Composter. Ella Montt fetched the watering can and watered the Plot. EB stepped back in to the reading room.

Seeds Planted: Pea (Edible Podded) Ezetha’s Krombek Blaschokker x 30 seeds; Potatoes Lady Balfour Main Crop Potato x 15.

Harvest: a pinch of Chives.

Fat Slug, Frost, Sweet Potato, Frog

7th October 2011 – At Allotment Plot at MERL, there was an overload of sound at the Plot. The sounds penetrated and reverberated across the garden. Magpies were conspiring in the trees, planes moving along flight paths, teenagers screaming and shouting involved in the action of sport in a field beyond the hedge, sirens wailing, one after the other, the sounds repeated and echoed again and again. The Brick Composter had collapsed in on itself; the top layer of bricks had fallen in to the compost. Ella Montt adjusted the bricks back in to position. A tan coloured fat slug was at rest in amongst the compost. The second yellow squash was in the process of dying, the first had already died, it was partially eaten and the rest in a state of decomposition. A third squash fruit seemed okay for the time being, the fourth seemed strong and had a robust flower, a fifth was trying to emerge, but none, because of the time of year, would last long enough to become substantial. The day was breezy with an Autumnal nip in the air, after a dark morning, some blue sky had emerged and the clouds, blocked and then unblocked the sunshine.

The human discontent was progressing with more protest through the occupation of space (New York City 99%). The space is not cultivated just occupied. Perhaps all city space in general needs to be squatted and become cultivated through the growing of vegetables and fruit to disconnect the merchandise from the power of commodity and the obsession with economic growth. Land needs to be shared along with wealth, but at the same time the commodity needs to deconstruct itself so that resources are not wantonly depleted. It is time to plant over the concrete; every city needs to be a garden of vegetation. A city can function with more sustainability than a rural dwelling, because of the shared utilities of the human activity, yet the increase in heat generated by the human activity amassed in the cities is increasing the hyperobject of global warming. The winter of discontent is looming and its harsh reality will be felt in the streets when the temperature drops, yet first the Autumnal Fall needs to be completed before the Winter cycle. The discontent is unlikely to dissolve, the fat slug sits untouched in the compost, and all the while the extremes of drought and starvation are felt in Afghanistan and Africa.

Harvest: Tomatoes = 3.5oz = 90g; Companion Planting Seeds, Calendula Pot Marigold, Cosmos Cosmea, Cosmos Orange Cosmea, Chamomile, Sunflower and Mint; Celery Tall Utah = 5oz = 140g; Chard = 1oz = 30g; Beans (Runner) Enorma = 14oz = 400g; Beans (French Climbing) Neckarqueen and Blue Lake = 2oz = 60g, Blauhide = 1.5oz = 40g, Barlotta Di Fuoco = 10.5oz = 300g.

On the 10th October 2011 the size of this years Squash and Pumpkins was a news item on a radio program. The conversation focused on the fact that the cold nights in June delayed the growth of the plants leaves so that they were not nearly developed enough by July. The temperatures then did not contribute enough to allow the plants growth to catch up, resulting in many of the Squash and Pumpkins being lighter than they would be normally at harvest time, (that is if they grew at all). Ella Montt had found some of the Squash plants at Plot 326 started to grow in September only to be thwarted once again as soon as the temperature dropped. The Sweetcorn plants had also barely grown. Harvest was minimal.

13th October 2011 – Allotment Plot at MERL, the day after the Moon was waxing gibbous, Ella Montt attached curtains of newsprint paper to the Bamboo Frame around the Plot. Ella Montt gazed through the camera lens at the partially covered Plot, there was no sense of Jeanne-Claude and Christo, but a more Fluxist act of temporality as the paper hung in the air. The Plot as an object was explored. Ella Montt knew that in an augenblick the paper curtains could be removed and placed in the Brick Composter to become compost material, overtime the deconstruction of the paper would leave no visual trace or relic, and would become soil. The newsprint, a seemingly low tech product, had once been part of a plant tree that had originally grown out of the soil, the tree had been deconstructed and reconstructed in to the newsprint through a process involving high technology. The manufacturing of paper can be constructed by human hand, but it is more normal for machines to make paper from trees. The string that attached the paper curtain to the Bamboo frame was also originally a product from a plant, reconstructed for human needs.

The weather that day in October was pleasantly warm in temperature, with a slight breeze. It was neither hot nor cold. Small clouds drifted by in a blue Autumnal sky. The third yellow Squash fruit was in the process of dying. The fourth had not yet reached that stage and at this point still had life potential, but it was too late in the season and the inevitable premature death of the Squash fruit loomed. The harvest today would be minimal. When darkness falls Ella Montt will be gazing beyond the blueness of the sky towards far distant star configurations, wondering when the time will be right to plant next years Garlic.

Harvest: Companion Plantings Seeds = 1oz = 20g; Beans (French Climbing) Barlotta Di Fuoco = 6oz = 180g; Celery Tall Utah = 7oz = 195g; Tomatoes = 3.5oz = 95g; a mix of the other Beans including Enorma and Blauhide = 7.5oz = 240g and Sweetcorn True Gold = 5oz = 140g.

14th October 2011 – Allotment Plot 326 – As if by magic a new carpet had appeared and covered an expanse of soil that had grown the potatoes this year. Ella Montt cut more vegetation and added it to the compost pile that is accumulating.

Harvest: Squash 1 x Sweet Dumpling 6oz = 175g, 1 x Sweet Dumpling = 5oz = 140g, 1 x Blue Kuri = 2lb 5oz = 1.05Kg, 1 x Green Hokkaido = 2oz = 50g, 1 x Green Hokkaido = 12oz = 345g, 1 x Acorn = 1lb 8oz = 690g; Sweetcorn True Gold = 6oz = 175g; a mix of Beans = 1lb = 440g; Oriental Tai Sai = 11.5oz = 330g; Courgettes = 3 x Cocozelle = 9oz = 250g, 2 x Patriot F1 = 10oz = 280g; Perpetual Spinach = 7oz = 200g; Rainbow Chard = 7oz = 200g; Kale Red Russian Curled = 3.5oz =90g.

19th October 2011, Ella Montt went first to Allotment Plot at MERL and then to Allotment Plot 326, Frost was forecasted for that night and fear of plant loss was projecting itself across the land. At Allotment Plot at MERL the sky was dark, tiny Blauhide Beans were forming after the recent warm weather. The most recent Squash was still intact, but the previous one that had been growing, was rotting next to it on the vine. Ella Montt gathered Companion Planting flowers to save them from Frost destruction. The flowers would be pressed secretly and then attached to tree product thin card. Harvest: Celery Tall Utah = 6oz = 165g.

On arrival at Allotment Plot 326 Ella Montt found that she was already too late. The temperature must have plummeted on a previous night, already the leaves of the Courgette and Squash plants had turned from green to black and were curled in on themselves in an alien configuration. The Globe Artichoke plants were so far unaffected by the drop in temperature, Ella Montt had no previous experience in growing this type of plant, so uncertainty hung over their longevity. If the plants could keep growing and do not perish, next year they may produce artichokes. A Frog hopped by. If the Frog wanted to survive the Winter it would need to hide itself somewhere to avoid being frosted. Harvest: Celery Tall Utah = 7oz = 195g; Squash 1 x Sweet Dumpling = 12oz = 345g, 1 x Green Hokkaido = 6oz = 165g, 1 x Green Hokkaido = 3.5oz = 75g; Rainbow Chard = 1.5oz = 40g; Oriental Tai Sai = 2oz = 60g.

The next day, on the 20th October 2011, at Allotment Plot at MERL, Frost had not appeared in white frozen form. The tiny Blauhide Beans remained unharmed attached to purple flowers. The Cosmos Cosmea and Sunflowers still bloomed. There was no sign of a zero temperature, it had been close, yet luckily, for the time being, the Plot was sufficiently sheltered from the elemental forces.

27th October 2011 – Allotment Plot at MERL – Ella Montt dug up the Sweet Potato. The tuber vine plant had not spread in all directions as anticipated for, but instead was becoming trapped by the rhizome growing Mint plant that is extending itself in the form of horizontal runners punctuated by vertical shoots of new foliage structure. The Sweet Potato was surprisingly still in one piece. The Slips had tiny tubers growing from them. Ella Montt divided the Sweet Potato Slips and replanted them close to the original tuber. It would be an ecological miracle if the Sweet Potato will survive a harsh winter, but perhaps the Slips would establish themselves and extend roots beyond the Mint invasion.

It was a dark dull Autumnal day, the grey clouds were heavy, but moving fairly rapidly considering their weight, the threat of rain held off, but not in Thailand or Dublin where it was flooded. Sweet Pea seeds were embedded in the soil next to the Bamboo Wigwam. A Heavy Metal CD had broken. The Squash plant that in recent weeks had tried so hard to produce was slowly meeting the end of its life expectancy. Celery and Parsnips were dug out of the ground, Mint and Rocket gathered. Phacelia Tanacetifolia was broadcasted across the Plot. The first rows of Broad Bean Aquadulce Supersimonia were planted about 8-10 inches from the Brick Composter, this was followed by planting rows of Broad Bean Superaquadulce and then Pea Meteor. The over wintering planting had begun.

Harvest: mix of Beans = 5.5oz = 160g; Mint = 3oz = 80g; Rocket Esmee and Wild = 1.5oz = 40g; Parsnip Halblange White = 7oz = 200g; Celery Tall Utah = 7oz and 200g.

28th October 2011 – Allotment Plot 326 – The potted Oak Tree seedlings found on the Plot were experiencing their own Autumn. Ella Montt cleared the dead Beans, Sweetcorn, Courgette and Squash plants to the Compost Pile that had been expanding gradually since it was uncovered a month or so ago. It was anticipated that some of next years Squash plants would be planted on the compost.

A Frog was seen amongst the Tai Sai. Perhaps a small pond needs to be dug for the Frog? (This idea is under consideration, but needs to be in a bramble root free area). Ella Montt fetched the fork from the shed, not to dig the pond, but to work over an area of soil that had been cleared of vegetation. It was a perfect day to dig; the temperature was just right, not to cold or hot. When the area had been worked over it was covered with layers of tree products, newspaper and cardboard and weighted down with pieces of wood. This soil will now be left until early spring. The layers of tree products covering the soil would assist in weed suppression and encourage worms to break down the matter underneath the covering so that it would be ready to plant without much work in the Spring. The cardboard will also offer space for the Frog to shelter under if needed.

Harvest: Perpetual Spinach = 3oz = 80g; Kale Red Russian Curled = 1.5oz = 40g; Oriental Tai Sai = 6oz = 160g; Rainbow Chard = 2oz = 65g; Carrots Autumn King = 8oz = 230g.

Zombie Tomatoes, Fertilized Squash, Compost

2nd September 2011 – Allotment Plot at MERL – For the human it was a very warm day, in an exterior context, such as the garden, but not if placed in an interior, where it seemed much cooler and autumnal. Ella Montt crouched next to the Plot. Her body moved slowly around the edge, redefining and removing plant material, then the plant residue was gathered and deposited in to the Brick Composter. The watering can was needed and fetched from the Shed. There had been no rain since sometime last weekend, when there had been a fair amount that was an assistant in mud making for the Festival.

Ella Montt dug up the rest of the Potatoes. EB examined them carefully. The Potatoes were with out disease or skin blemish aside from a few marks of damage received from the garden fork. EB was satisfied with the result. Beans were harvested. Unfortunately, most of the Squash plants were dissolving and composting themselves in to the soil as a result of cold weather. The Tomatoes looked without blight, but were mainly still green. A profusion of Pot Marigold flowers were suddenly lit up by sunshine that fell to Earth and illuminated the Plot, but this illumination did not last for long and the vibrant orange flower objects were darkened as the sun disappeared behind a grey cloud, shading the Plot. Ella Montt scattered a mix of Chard, Lettuce and Wintergreen Cabbage seeds that are suited to September planting, in the place that the Potatoes had been extracted from. Companion Planting seeds heads were gathered to be saved for future Guerilla Gardening broadcasting (at a later date).

Harvest: Seeds from Companion Planting, Calendula Pot Marigold, Cosmos Cosmea, Borage, Chamomile = 3oz = 80g; Tomatoes = 0.5oz = 10g; Potato Eve Balfour = 6lb 3oz = 2.8Kg; Bean (French Climbing) = Blauhide = 8oz = 220g; Neckarqueen and Blue Lake – 1.5oz = 30g; Barlotta Di Fuoco = 4.5oz = 130g; Beans (Runner) Enamor = 14oz = 400g.

5th September 2011 – Allotment Plot 326 – The last of the blighted Tomato plants were removed, some Tomatoes were saved from the deadly disease. A blighted Tomato appears to transform its flesh rapidly in to that of a Zombie, an un-dead Tomato, the fruit becomes ugly and rotten with decay putrefying other Tomatoes it comes in contact with. Blight is a deathly, airborne fugal disease from which there is no cure apart from fire, burial or very high temperature composting that will nullify the toxicity and eradicate the spores. The Potato crop remained perfect, untouched by the blight, as the final tubers were removed from the soil.

Harvest: Potato Charlotte and Sante = 10lb 5.5oz = 4.72Kg; 2 x Beetroot Bolivar = 5oz = 140g; Spinach Perpetual Leaf Beat = 7oz = 200g; Oriental Greens Tai Sai = 3.5oz = 90g; mix of Chard = 4oz = 110g; Beans (French Dwarf) Royalty = 6oz = 160g; mix of Beans (French Climbing) Blue Lake, Neckarqueen, Barlotta Di Fuoco, Blauhide and (Runner) Enorma = 11.5oz = 360g; Kale Red Russian Curled = 2oz = 50g; Tomatoes = 6oz = 180g.

8th September 2011 – Allotment Plot at MERL – Ella Montt drew sketches of the Allotment Plot with pencil on a length of recycled paper (30cm x 400cm). An observation was made of the drawing as it wrapped itself over the Bamboo frame the surrounds the Plot. The drawing or the paper was then folded in to the Brick Composter to brake down in to the soil. If art is part of all objects that inhabit the surface of the Planet, all objects being part of nature, whether or not they are shaped or unshaped by humans, then returning the drawing to the soil will speed up the process that art can be made by perpetuating new resources for human animation. The human world is overloaded with commodities; green businesses produce more commodities, which strive to be more centered on the best use of planet resources yet remain commodities. There is no escape (as yet) from the perpetual thinking that business has to thrive and economies must boom, as human breeding approaches the figure of seven billion occupying the planet. The humans forget sometimes that they are all animated pieces of soil and will return to the soil and compost when their animated time has run out. Meanwhile the process of humans desire for objects, (which is basically material borrowed from the Planet, then rearranged in to assemblages that become other material/ objects/ commodities), can extinguish other human and non-human life forms. William Morris lent over muttering words from his utopian novel explaining that humans realized eventually that the obsession with commodity and market growth would eventually dissolve. It was a dark and cloudy day, it became darker and darker.

Harvesting commenced: mix of Beans (French Climbing and Runner) = 14oz = 400g; Wild Rocket, Coriander Santos and Chives = 2.5oz = 70g; seeds from Companion Planting Calendula Pot Marigold and Cosmos Cosmea = 1.5oz = 35g; Tomatoes = 6.5oz = 180g. The Tomatoes at Allotment Plot at MERL were not afflicted with blight.

14th September 2011 – Allotment Plot 326 – The night was extremely cold for the time of year. The fear of frost started again. Harvest: Courgette Patriot F1 x 2 = 8.5oz = 240g; Courgette Cocozelle x 2 = 2lb 14.5oz = 1.32Kg; Oriental Greens Tai Sai = 5.5oz = 150g; Beetroot Bolivar = 2lb 12oz = 1.22Kg; Beans (French Dwarf) Royalty 4oz = 120g; a mix of Spinach and Chard = 8oz = 230g; Beans (French Climbing) = Barlotta Di Fuoco = 2oz = 50, Neckarqueen and Blue Lake 4oz = 110g; Beans (Runner) Enamor = 5oz = 140g.

15th September 2011 – Allotment Plot at MERL – Ella Montt had experienced fear, during the darkness of the previous two nights. A sense of doom had accompanied the contemplation of the recently waning gibbous moon that hung first low as a golden ball close to the planet just above the human rooftops and trees, and then high, piercingly white in its intensity in the upper hemisphere with stars reflecting the white light in their pinpointed geometries. The nighttime temperatures had plummeted and there had been weather reports the there could be ground frost in rural areas. Both MERL and Allotment Plot 326 were in rural areas. MERL is in itself a place of rural areas, because it is a Museum of English Rural Life, yet the garden has some shelter, because the buildings on two and a half sides surround it. Allotment Plot 326 is on higher exposed ground that is wide open to the elements; there is no defense from the sky. The clarity of the cloudless atmosphere welcomed the onslaught of freezing temperatures that drop through infinity to hit the planets surface, but this time the vegetables plants were saved and the temperature remained above zero, for now. Parsnips would welcome the frost, because it increases the sweetness of their root, but for other plants frost would mean annihilation, a sudden death, deconstruction of their vibrant matter would become inevitable and a signal to return to the soil from whence they came. Ella Montt was aware that tragedy would need to be avoided, monitoring of temperatures resumed.

The early summer in April 2011 seemed long ago. At Allotment Plot at MERL, the one Squash plant that looked like it might support a fruit had yet to be successfully fertilized. A female flower rotted on the vine, whilst another was unsure if a bee would pollinate it. Ella Montt searched for a male flower to assist in the operation, finding one she transported pollen to the waiting female flower. Some of the other Squash plants at Allotment Plot 326 had successfully produced fruit, although not as many as anticipated, and also inside the fixed up green house at another location, both Squashes and Cucumbers were in the process of successfully production.

The Brick Composter had started to take on a plant life of its own. The bricks were accumulating a green covering.

The colours of green were beginning to fade, but were still punctuated with the pulsating colours of the Companion Planting. The Cosmos Orange Cosmea was flowering, its flower is different to the pink and white Cosmos Cosmea. Across the garden the established perennials were vivid in their autumn shades. Ella Montt thinned out some of the Pot Marigolds so that light could penetrate the Tomatoes ad ripen their fruits. Water was applied to the Plot and plant residue gathered in to the Brick Composter. Harvesting commenced.

Harvest: a mix of Companion Planting seeds heads, Calendula Pot Marigold, Cosmos Cosmea and Chamomile = 1oz = 20g; Tomaotes = 1lb 7oz = 650g; Beans (French Climbing) Blauhide = 1.5oz, Neckarqueen and Blue Lake 2.5oz = 70g, Barlotta Di Fuoco = 3oz = 80g; Beans (Runner) Enorma = 9oz =250g.

16th September 2011 – Allotment Plot 326 – Ella Montt had recently uncovered a large mound of compost that had been covered for a year by a tarpaulin. The Compost had broken down in to new soil. The soil had been dispersed, but not removed from the area. Ella Montt was in the process of adding more material to the compost that included grass, nettles, comfrey and other excessive plant residue that was growing on the Plot. Over the next few months Ella Montt desires to organize composting strategies at Plot 326 and digging will commence in areas of the Plot that have so far remained uncultivated. Cardboard Compost Lasagna will aid in the break down of the soil to assist in its workability. The next growing year from October, when Garlic and Onions will be planted, shall seek to optimize the Plot. This last year two areas of the Plot remained un-planted, 20011-12 will re-engage with the performance of productivity in order to off-set the lack economic growth in the public sector of commodity, the human obsession of which remains futile in the history of the universe.

Harvest: Squash 1 x Buttercup = 3lb = 1.37Kg, 1 x Green Hokkaido = 1lb 14oz = 850g.

Blight and Harvest

18th August 2011 – Allotment Plot at MERL – Torrential rain delayed and limited Plot interaction. Ella Montt assessed the cultivation field considering the Plot, and then searched in her bag for packets of seeds. Ella Montt broadcasted seeds on to the soil in the place that had been emptied of Potatoes the week before. These seeds were Rainbow Chard and Wild Rocket. No Potatoes could be removed that day, because the tools were locked in the Shed and there was no access to the key. The Plot was saturated with water.

Harvest: a mix of Herbs (to be dried) 2.5oz = 70g; Bean (French Climbing) Barlotta Di Fuoco = 2.50z = 70g, Blauhide = 5oz = 140g, Neckarqueen and Blue Lake = 2oz = 30g.

22nd August 2011 – Allotment Plot 326, the fence suddenly surrounded the Plot with the collaborative assistance of R&P. A second gate was made and installed. Rabbits will now need to use stealth mode to approach the growing vegetation, hungry birds on the other hand are free to come and go, but not particularly welcome if they destroy vegetables. The original apple tree received an extreme pruning.

Harvest: Beetroot Bolivar = 1lb 15oz = 880g; a mix of beans = 5oz = 140g, Perpetual Spinach and Chard Mix = 4oz = 98g; Potatoes Charlotte = 4lb 6oz = 2Kg; 4 x Courgette Patriot F1 = 4lb 6oz = 2Kg; Tomato Gardeners’ Delight = 4oz = 100g.

25th August 2011 – Allotment Plot at MERL – You (the Reader) may not be aware of the fact that this particular year, 2011, has up until now been most erratic and strange for growing vegetables. It was very dry and warm from March thru April, then there was frost and rain. More recently the nights have been very cold for the time of year. Some growers proclaimed much of the Garlic although successfully harvested had since rotted (an amount, but not all of Ella Montt’s Garlic remained unblemished, an unfortunate amount had been composted). Some growers proclaimed their Onions had rotted (most of Ella Montt’s Onions were unblemished). Some seeds just did not grow. Blight is in the process of destroying the Tomatoes at Plot 326, but so far is not affecting the Tomatoes at Allotment Plot at MERL. Blight is not affecting the Potatoes at either Plot. The Quality of the Potatoes is excellent. Ella Montt was striving for vegetable sustainability, as part of what brook & black call practical planting practice, which Ella Montt includes in the expanded Cultivation Field methodology.

Harvest: Potato Eve Balfour = 5lb 9oz = 2.53 Kg; Beans (Runner) Enorma 9oz = 240g; Beans (French Climbing) Blauhide = 6oz = 170g, Barlotta = 5oz = 130g, Neckarqueen and Blue Lake = 2oz = 60g, (the last two Bean plant harvest rates seem particularly low at both MERL and 326, where as in other parts of the country the harvest rate was high, the reason for this is unknown, but can be credited to the affects of the weather and climate conditions). There has been an extraordinary number of cold nights this summer, where the temperature has dropped below 10C.

28th August 2011 – Allotment Plot 326 – Most of the Tomatoes were harvested green, because of the rapid deterioration of the plants through Blight. Unfortunately the crop failure could not be stopped. A few days later the Tomatoes were composted because they were affected with Blight. The Plants will be burnt. What a waste, but external forces could not be stopped.

Harvest: Tomato, mix of Gardeners’ Delight, Koralik, Brandy Wine, Marmande and Chadwick = 6lb 14.5oz = 3.11Kg; 1 x Apple Cevaal = 5oz = 140g; 1 x Pumpkin Cinderella = 3lb 2oz = 1.41Kg; 1 x Courgette Patriot F1 = 70z = 190g, 1 x Beetroot Bolivar 7.5oz = 200g; Kale Red Russian Curled = 3oz = 90g; Beans (French Climbing) Blauhide = 3oz = 80g, Neckarqueen and Blue Lake = 4oz = 100g; Beans (Runner) Enorma = 7oz = 190g; Potatoes Charlotte and Sante = 22lb 9.5oz = 10.26Kg.

Mulberry and Potatoes

7 August 2011 – Allotment Plot 326 – Harvest: Tomato Gardener’s Delight = 3oz = 80g; Beetroot Bolivar = 1lb 4oz = 580g; Potato Madeleine 12lb 15oz = 5.9kg.

8 August 2011 – Allotment Plot 326 – Harvest: Runner Bean Enorma = 2oz = 60g; Potato Madeline 4lb = 1.82kg; Beetroot Bolivar = 1lb 8oz = 700g.

11 August 2011 – Allotment Plot at MERL – A fine mist of rain was falling across the garden. William Morris rolled out of his carpet from where he had been sleeping under the Mulberry Tree. His hands were covered in dark stains from the juice of Mulberry fruits. Ella Montt now understood why he liked the Mulberry Tree so much; the fruits are many and delicious! Mulberry Trees can live for a long time, and they will often look like they are falling down to one side, this is so they can re-root themselves in to the soil to insure their survival. Towards the base of the tree the Mulberry will grow long trailing branches that are also seeking to root themselves.

Ella Montt cut the Nettles and Comfrey growing in the Brick Composter and scattered the leaves over the compost. The Companion Planting’s wild beauty was tamed with a piece of string, because the Cosmos Cosmea was blocking vital sunlight access to the Squash plants. Some of the Pot Marigolds were removed for the same reason and their plant residue was added to the Composter. The Plot was saturated with the vivid colour; green was punctuated by orange, yellow, pink, white and scarlet (the latter from the runner bean plants).

EB stepped out of the reading room window and walked across the garden with a fork. She dug up the first batch of potatoes. As the potatoes were removed from the soil, active earth worms were revealed. The condition of the soil had changed with the introduction and growth of the tubers. The change was a much desired improvement in vital soil fertility. It can take several years to improve soil for optimum growth and equally it can take just as long to deplete the soil of vitality depending on the growing methods employed.

Harvest: Potato Lady Balfour = 5lb 3oz = 2.37kg; Herbs, Mint, Sage, Chives 2oz = 40g; Runner Bean Enorma = 14.5oz = 410g; Bean (French Climbing) Blauhide = 2.5oz = 70g, Blue Lake = 3oz = 80g, Neckarqueen = 1oz = 3og, Barlotta Di Fuoco = 2oz = 50g.

15 August 2011 – Allotment Plot 326 – Harvest: Kale Red Russian Curled = 1oz = 20g; mix of Perpetual Spinach and Rainbow Chard = 6oz = 160g; mix of Beans = 3.5oz = 100g; mix of Peas = 11.5oz = 330g; Tomato Gardener’s Delight = 5.5oz = 160g; 1 Onion Red Baron = 2oz = 60g; 4 x Courgette Cocozelle = 1lb 9oz = 700g; 4 x Courgette Patriot F1 = 6lb 0.5oz = 2.74kg

Sun Drought Frost Rain

18th April 2011 – In the studio the rooting Sweet Potato was observed sitting in its glass jam jar of water on the table in front of the window. The Sweet Potato was absorbing the sun light. A tiny dark reddish/ purple leafy sprout (slip) had emerged from the tuber. Ella Montt stared at the Sweet Potato, it was the first time she had witnessed so close the emergence of life from a Sweet Potato tuber. The root formations were of interest and also the initial growth of the leaf bud which will lead at a later stage to the vine structure.

Later in the day, at Allotment Plot 326 an area was cleared of sticks and branches that had been cut from the original Apple Tree and lain on the ground for sometime, (the original Apple Tree existed on the Plot when possession was granted last August). This area of the Plot had been used by the previous tenant and was some how despite the drought still workable with the assistance of the fork and spade tools.

19th April – Water was applied with a watering can to Allotment Plot 326’s planted areas. Drought was still in occupation. Ella Montt planted five rows of Peas in the soil that she had been able to dig on the previous day. The Peas were the same types of seeds that were planted at Allotment Plot at MERL on 24th March; Pea Kelvedon Wonder, Pea Ambassador, Pea (Edible Podded) Ezetha’s Krombek Blauschokker, and Pea (Mange-tout) Oregon Sugar Pod. Ella Montt then pushed some of the Apple Tree sticks into the soil next to each row of Peas. The strategy of utilizing the sticks was to exploit a two-fold defense mechanism, potentially the first fold being an attempt to prevent Magpies and other wildlife from eating the Pea seeds and secondly to act as supports for the Pea plants as they grow. (Pea plants have tendrils that reach out to attach themselves to a supporting medium). A barrier net fence will also be needed to deter wandering wildlife from eating the plants.

26th April – Ella Montt erected a net fence around the area planted with Peas at Allotment Plot 326. Then water was applied to all planted areas of the Plot. Drought conditions persisted. Weeds were cut to decrease their power.

27th April – Cardboard that had been covering an area of Allotment Plot 326 was removed and placed close by on another area of the plot to assist in weed control. The uncovered area of soil was dug over. Seeds were then planted; these were Scorsonère Géante Noire De Russie, Leek Blue Green Winter and Kale Halbholter Grun Krauser. Once more water was applied to the planted areas of the Plot. The ground was forming cracks as moisture continued to evaporate and evade the soil. The lack of rain was becoming desperate. A sense of the Sahara spreading, edging nearer, drifted across the sky.

28th April – Allotment Plot at MERL had not been visited for two weeks, because of Spring time feasting. Ella Montt noted that certain vegetables plants had grown, but others had failed as yet to germinate. The green manure seeds Phacelia Tanacetifolia that had been planted last Autumn were now taking a positive hold in the Plot. Phacelia should be dug in with some plants left to attract bees, but Ella Montt decided to leave all the plants to flower (for now). The Garlic on the Plot had not as yet grown to be as big as the Garlic on Allotment Plot 326.

Ella Montt had brought Sunflower and Cosmos seedlings to the Plot. These seedlings that had been growing in the fixed up greenhouse at another location were becoming to tall and needed to be planted out. With intrepidation Ella Montt chipped away at the concreted soil to break holes for the seedlings to root themselves into the ground. The seedlings were then planted and watered as they connected to the earth. Two Globe Artichoke plants were also planted out. Seedlings planted; 5 Cosmos Cosmea, 19 assorted Sunflowers, 2 Artichokes = 1 x Arad and 1 x Imperial Star. Will they survive the drought?

It was still April and Ella Montt pondered the dangers of frost and other extreme weather conditions including the aforementioned drought. The Kale and Chard seeds had so far failed to germinate. Both the months of March and April had been exceptionally dry. The Sahara Dessert was spreading closer.

There was evidence of slug or snail damage on some of the plants, which seemed strange considering how dry the soil was. Perhaps the Brick Composter harboured these creatures. There appeared to be no bird damage affecting the plants. water was applied by watering can to the Plot. Both Carrot and Parsnip seeds were germinating.

Ella Montt left Allotment Plot at MERL and cycled to the studio. The Sweet Potato was continuing to grow roots and shoots (slips).

2nd May – Brassica seeds were planted in the fixed up greenhouse. The weather was playing havoc with Ella Montt’s timing of the cultivation process. Meanwhile the Squash and Bean plants were growing well, and waiting to be transplanted.

Ella Montt went to dig at Allotment Plot 326. Digging there was a never ending task and will be on going. The Potatoes foliage growth had accelerated. The ground was cracking with the lack of rain. Ella Montt dug an area that had been covered by cardboard and then planted some Cauliflower Snowball seeds, and also some Parsnip Halblange White, and Kohl Rabi Azur Star. It was hard to judge given the current weather conditions whether or not planting these seeds was a waste of time, but only the course of time will reveal this information. The sun continued to shine. The weather was for most humans, (apart from perhaps farmers, growers and firefighters) beautiful. The Garlic continued to thrust its foliage towards the sky.

5th May – At Allotment Plot at MERL there was no evidence of frost damage, although the temperature had dropped the previous night and the night before. There had been a frost warning for rural areas. However the Sunflower seedlings that had been planted last week looked dead, because they had received no moisture since the day they were planted out. Ella Montt soaked the Plot with water in the hope to revive the Sunflowers. She then erected a fifth bamboo pyramid. Then five types of Bean plants from the fixed up greenhouse were transplanted into the ground. The Bean plants were; French Bean (Climbing) Barlotto Lingua di Fuoco, Blauhide, Blue Lake, and Neckarqueen, and Runner Bean Enorma.

Saved Squash seeds were placed into the soil within the Brick Composter as an experiment in the field of germination. The Comfrey plant that had planted on the 14th April was still in its place as part of the Plot, but it had been eaten by slime creatures. Comfrey as a plant has exceptional growth capacity and can be harvested several times at least a year, but creatures also find it a good food source. Allotment Plot 326 has revealed several Comfrey plants already established as part of that Plot.

6th May – The Sweet Potato continues to transform its self, whilst a Comfrey cutting, taken from The Herb Garden (Kate Corder, 2006), generates new growth.

9th May – There was some relief for the plants as it rained at night on the 6th and 7th May ending the drought! A visit to Allotment Plot 326 revealed that frost had inflicted its cruel pain last week on the 3rd or 4th of May. Plot 326 is on higher ground than Allotment Plot at MERL and exists in a more rural area, which is where the weather person had indicated that frost might fall, and it had. Luckily only the foliage of the Potato plants were damaged and not the core plant. The Potato foliage should be able to regenerate, because the frost was not severe. The Peas somehow were unaffected and growing steadily.

Ella Montt had become aware that a campaign against government interference with Allotment History was being fought across the land. It had been revealed of late that government is seeking to destroy and condem Section 23 of the Allotments Act of 1908, which binds local councils to provide land for allotments if more than six humans desire Allotments in a local area. Ella Montt, Captain Swing, Thorpe and William Morris were most displeased by the governments reckless behaviour.

A council worker operated a large green tractor in the plot next to 326, the vehicle was tuned to remove the rampant wildness that had taken over this particular plot, as a result of an allotment holder’s failed utopian dream. The previous allotment holder worked long hours and had to give up their plot so the plot will soon belong to the next person on the extensive waiting list. Ella Montt watched the tractor turn the soil and narrowly miss the Cherry Tree.

After more digging in an area that had been covered by newspaper and compost Ella Montt planted some seeds; Broccoli Purple Sprouting Early, Calabrese Green Sprouting, Brussels Sprouts Darkmar 21, and Cabbage Marner Lagerweiss. External forces will decide if these seeds will grow into vibrant green vital matter.

Overnight Frost

On the morning of 21st October 2010, an overnight frost had killed the Bean and Squash plants at Allotment Plot at MERL, leaving the remaining Squash Green Hokkadio vulnerable to elemental forces. The Squash seemed to be intact and was harvested, it had not met its maximum growth capacity because it had grown to late in the season, but it was not to be abandoned to decompose on the Plot.

The Bamboo canes that were still standing in pyramid formations, were stripped of their frost bitten Climbing Bean residue, dismantled and deposited in the shed. The Bean plant residue was roughly cut up and laid in the brick compost area. Ella Montt decided to raise the height of the bricks by one layer so that they would accommodate more compost. Yellowed leaves from the Mulberry tree next to the Plot were gathered from the ground where they had fallen, placed into the compost area covering the Bean plants residue and left to mulch down.

Allotment Plot CompostAllotment Plot Autumn

The next action was that of harvesting, because there had been a frost Ella Montt deemed it appropriate that the first Parsnips would be dug. In the space that the Carrot harvest generated more Pea Meteor were planted. The harvest consisted of: Squash Green Hokkadio = 1lb 1oz = 480g; Mixed Herbs = Chives, Mint, Sage and Marjarom = 2oz = 40g; Leek Almera = 2oz = 40g ; Parsnip Halblange White = 6oz = 180g; Carrot Amsterdam Forcing 8oz = 240g.

Carrots Leeks and Parsnips 1Carrots Leeks and Parsnips

Later that same day, 21/10/2010, a journey to Allotment Plot 326 happened. Ella Montt commenced digging again in an effort to clear more soil, attempting to banish more roots of the Bramble plants. As daylight started to fade Ella Montt’s digging reached the other side of the plot. Contemplating the Plot, Ella Montt has decided in order to try to thwart the Brambles, land based wildlife and other persistent plants, who are not particularly welcome in the overall scheme of the Plot, that it will be necessary to dig the perimeter of the Plot in preparation for fencing. Whilst bio diversity is encouraged in organic growing, certain creatures become over zealous when Plants of their liking start to grow. This fact has already been noted on the Plot at MERL when the Brassicas have suffered Pigeon attack. The act of fencing in of Plot 326, will be an attempt to try to deter hungry wildlife from foraging and allow the planted vegetation a chance to grow to harvesting potential. Given time constraints, Ella Montt expects it will be some weeks before fencing commences. Ella Montt would like to emphasis the fact that fencing the Plot in is not based on Speciesism and that wildlife will coexist on and around the Plot with the Plot, the act of fencing is merely an attempt to stop the wildlife eating everything that Ella Montt attempts to grow. The wildlife have their own strategies for survival and will no doubt find a way to breach the fence if they are so inclined.

Ella Montt planted another row of Spinach Giant Winter, then Garlic (1) Elephant = 3 cloves, Garlic (2) Dukat = 17 cloves, Garlic (3) Sprint = 32 cloves, Garlic (4) Thermidrome 16 cloves, followed by 1 row of Broad Beans Supersimonia and 1 row of Broad Beans Super Aquadule.

Allotment Plot Overwinter 1Allotment Plot Overwinter 2

Compost at the Plot

On the 7th October 2010 at Allotment Plot at MERL in the Autumn sunshine, it was time to harvest and remove the Sweetcorn form the Plot. The corn ears were collected and the canes were cut leaving the roots in the soil to decompose. The Sunflowers seed heads were cut off and saved then plants cut down. Other seeds were collected from the Borage, Pot Marigold and Mint (the seeds were later laid out to dry in Ella Montt’s studio). The Dwarf Beans Royalty were removed from the Plot. One pyramid of Bamboo canes was disconnected from the others and removed from the Plot, the pyramid had supported Blauhide and Blue Lake Climbing Beans; these were cut down. The vacated areas of the Plot were gently forked over, leaving the roots of the cut down plants intact so that they will return any possible nutrients to the soil. The earth was easy to manipulate. The plant remainders that had been removed were left to one side of the Plot.

Allotment 7/10/10allotment167

Bricks were collected in a wheelbarrow from a pile across the garden. The bricks were arranged in a rectangular form of a raised bed where the Sweetcorn had previously been growing. The discarded Sweetcorn, Sunflower and Climbing Bean Plants were chopped up and placed into the raised bed to decompose back to the soil. Compost was also collected from across the garden and a thin layer was applied to the plant mixture in the raised bed. This raised bed will now act as a compost facility on the Plot. Any plant removed from the Plot will be composted there.

Bricks for the Plot

The harvest for the day was as follows: 14 ears of Sweetcorn = 1lb 5oz = 600g; Courgette Soleil F1 = 2oz = 60g; Climbing Beans Blauhide = 3oz = 80g and Blue Lake = 3oz = 80g; Runner Beans Painted Lady = 110z = 340g.

Bricks on Plot