Category Archives: Crop Failure

Slow Worm

30 December 2012 was a numerical date close to the end of some humans year cycle. On that particular day, the area of the Island where Allotment Plot 326 was situated was experiencing less favourable weather conditions than seen earlier in the predictive reading of Ella Montt’s crystal ball. Ella Montt was however able to visit the Plot without rainfall saturating the event. The ground at the Allotment Plot had continued to receive substantial amounts of rainfall. Plot 325 next to Plot 326 was flooding and collecting a pond of water. When Amphibian life ventures out of hibernation standing ponds of water can be used to breed, but the ponds need to remain in place until the young have developed enough to survive outside of the water.

As each second passes, the human counting system moved ever forward towards the New Year. At the start of a New Year cycle gardeners thoughts can shift through success and failure of plants from previous years; these thoughts are combined with anticipation for plant growth for the coming year. Each harvest no matter how small or large can be seen as a metaphor for human labour, even if the labour can only be attributed in the gathering of a few leaves. The weight of plant growth when harvested can be translated in to profit or loss, even in the eyes of the domestic gardener. Seeds that are purchased are all part of the capital system. Seeds that are saved and used by the seed grower or exchanged with other growers are all part of a system of human interaction. The individual who can sow, grow and save seeds without human authoritarian intervention experiences freedom. The dogmatic authority that requires compliance within their guidelines by using their horticultural products seeks to dictate to individuals and destroy the freedom of the grower.

Ella Montt had started to notice tiny pieces of blue plastic embedded in to the soil of Plot 326. The plastic was not confined to one area, but distributed across the plot. The source of the plastic was unknown. Ella Montt had occupied this particular plot for 28 human month cycles, but it was only in the last month that the plastic had become really apparent. Perhaps the rain had washed the plastic to the surface of the soil? Ella Montt tried to remove the plastic pieces as an on going activity. Then after uncovering an area of the soil that had been covered in tarp, dug the soil, then re-covered the soil with newspaper and cardboard which she weighted down with more tree products including apple tree branches. In the course of this action Ella Montt disturbed a young or female Slow Worm hidden in the soil. It resembled a tiny snake, but was brown on one side and cream on the other with a distinctive marking along its body. The Slow Worm re-entered the soil.

The allotments were bleak in the depths of winter. Harvest was minimal and only centred on an accumulation of a few cabbage leaves and the remainders of the Parsnips that were dug from the soil. There would be no vegetables to harvest for some weeks so nutrition would need to be found elsewhere. The overwintering Broad Beans, Garlic and Onions continued to grow.

Harvest: Winter Green Cabbage leaves = 1oz = 20g; Parsnip White Halblange = 9oz = 620g.

Storm and the Dark Side

3rd November 2012, Plot 326 was experiencing the calm after the backend of the storm. On the island there had been substantial rain and wind in affect, but nothing compared to the Frankenstorm 3000 human miles or so across the ocean. The storm ruined many human habitats and stopped the Halloween parade. For some electrical power was reinstated after so many days, but others were not so fortunate. Did the high usage of electrical power contribute to the storm? Other areas of land occupied by humans were also devastated, but the loss of life was minimal compared to the Japanese tsunami 18 months ago. Ella Montt missed the state’s shared space community, which was a strange predicament as she was virtual. She observed the far off land’s vegetable growing gardening projects through other virtual portals.

The Chard and Spinach growth had been stunted by cold weather, so harvest was limited. Ella Montt attempted to have a bonfire, but the sticks of wood were too wet to burn. Ella Montt changed her activity and covered an area of soil with re-appropriated wood products to create a mulch. There was no sign of the Garlic, Onions or Broad Beans that had recently been planted to over winter. Ella Montt hoped the seeds would not rot in to the soil.

Harvest: mix of leaves including Chard, Perpetual Leaf Beet and Red Mustard = 5oz = 160g; Raspberries = 3oz = 90g; Cabbage Winter Green = 15oz = 420g.

11th November 2012, at Allotment Plot 326 it was a calm sunny day; the temperature was dipping down very low close to freezing at night. Ella Montt dug the soil. The world had been delivered from the dark side (US election). Shoots of new Garlic had started to appear.

Harvest: Cabbage Winter Green = 9oz = 250g; Spinach Giant Winter = 2oz = 60g; Mizuna and Red Mustard = 3oz = 80g; Raspberries = 2oz = 60g; Spinach Perpetual Leaf Beet and Chard mix = 5.5oz = 160g; Potato Nicola = 1lb 12oz = 800g; Parsnip Halblange White = 1lb 1.5oz = 500g.

18th November 2012 – When Ella Montt arrived at Allotment Plot 326 it was another sunny day; temperatures continued to drop down close to freezing at night. The nearby Oak Trees’ leaves were golden. The tree sap rose during the daytime and fell at night producing the tree leaves colour. Tomorrow was predicted to be warmer. Ella Montt finished pruning the old apple tree. The tree had been embedded in to Plot 326 before tenancy began. Ella Montt dug some soil and then covered it with recycled wood products as an overwinter mulch. The nutritional leaves that could be harvested were very small due to the wintery weather and others were being eaten by wildlife as they grew. The tender leaves of new Broad Bean and Onion plants had started to emerge from the soil.

Harvest: Raspberries = 1oz = 20g; Cabbage Winter Green = 10oz = 280g; mix of Chard, Spinach Perpetual Leaf Beet and Red Mustard leaves = 6oz = 170g.

28th November 2012 – It had rained profusely, not just at Allotment Plot 326, but also all over the Island. The winter drought was over. The river known as The Thames (which winds its way to the Island’s human capital) was flooding. Areas marked on old OS maps as “known to flood”, were no doubt flooding too. At Allotment Plot 326, it was a chilly day. Ella Montt moved about the Plot harvesting any nutritional leaves she could find. There were not many leaves, but every leaf accumulated contributed to boost the vital intake. Ella Montt although virtual was financially poor. Poverty was not desirable in current society, but it was an attribute that some could not avoid due to their circumstances. The Allotment Plot was a continuation of allotment history, which itself plots the history of human poverty and the provision of land for the human poor to grow nutritional plants for their own intake.

A Robin bird perched on the hedge and then the fence, as Ella Montt moved about the Plot, the tiny bird followed her and sang its musical song. The bird was always there in the water months when it was getting dark. Ella Montt dug. The soil was heavy and sticky, but luckily this particular Plot was not water logged.

An allotment inspector drove by in a marked red motorized vehicle. Ella Montt had never seen an inspector in this kind of car before. Several plots near by 326 were still empty. Plots were up for renewal and some would change hands as new would be allotment holders reached the top of the list.

Harvest: a mix of Chard and Spinach Perpetual Leaf Beet = 7oz = 200g; 1 x Potato Nicola = 3oz = 90g; 1 x Parsnip Halblange White = 6oz = 180g; Beetroot Bolivar = 8oz = 230g; 1 x Carrot Amsterdam = 15oz = 30g.

The harvest was quite pitiful considering the physical size of the Plot. A failure in vegetable seed germination had contributed to this problem. The weather had been too warm and dry in the spring and then to cold, dry then wet in the following months.

Emergency Green Tomato Chutney

2nd October 2012 – Allotment Plot 326, it had rained in the dark hours of the night. The Plot now was singular; the attention had shifted from two to one. The allotment plot remained part of history reaching back several hundred years to the evolving industrial revolution and the dawning of the age of the Anthropocene, which is seemingly a human generated glitch in the Earth’s surface covering.

When Ella Montt dug in to the soil of the Plot, she found odd random residues of past human activity. During a pause of activity, Ella Montt stared in to the centre of a yellow flower, a humanly named Evening Primrose. She was intrigued by its design construction that trapped rays of the sun within its infrastructure. The Borage flower was of even more of a fascination, its almost stark alien beauty bowed often towards the ground.

Harvest: Raspberries = 3.5oz; Beetroot Bolivar = 7oz = 200g; Potato Nicola = 1lb 5oz = 600g; Broccoli Raab = 2oz = 50g; Calabrese Beaumont F1 = 3oz = 80g; Onion Red Baron = 10oz = 290g; Climbing Beans = 4oz = 120g; Chard Canary = 7.5oz = 210g; Swiss Chard and Perpetual Leaf Beat = 1lb = 450g; Pak Choi = 8oz = 220g; Red Mustard and Mizuna = 4oz = 110g.

6th October 2012 – Allotment Plot 326, it had rained heavily during the evening and through the darkness of the night. Ella Montt started to shift objects around on the Plot. The soil was moist and Ella Montt began to prepare ground for this years Garlic, Onions and Broad Beans to be planted to overwinter. Curiously an ornamental pheasant was foraging along the allotment track. It was a displaced creature and passed unknown boundaries to arrive at the allotments. The pheasant did not stand still long enough for William Morris to pen its exact likeness, but he made note to add it to a wall paper design collection at a later date.

Harvest: Raspberries = 2oz = 50g; Climbing Beans = 2oz = 50g; a mix of Pak Choi, Red Mustard and Mizuna = 3.5oz = 100g; Squash Vegetable Spaghetti = 2lb 6.5oz = 1.1kg.

7th October 2012 – That morning, at another location, it suddenly became necessary to harvest all the Tomatoes, which were mostly still green.

Ella Montt’s Emergency Green Tomato Chutney

All ingredients are organic:

2kg Green Tomatoes, 300ml Apple Cider, 100g Fairtrade Dates, 100g Sultanas, 1 teaspoon each of Coriander Seed, Chilli Powder, Cinnamon, Turmeric and 2 teaspoon Black Mustard Seed, 400g Fairtrade Sugar, 3 Cloves Garlic, 1 large Onion, 25g Sea Salt, Black Pepper, juice of Lemon and Lime. Mix all ingredients except sugar in a stainless steel saucepan, leave to sit for one hour, then cook, simmer for one hour, add sugar cook until chutney thickens, stirring so that the chutney does not stick to the saucepan, the chutney should be bubbling hot so don’t burn yourself! Place the hot chutney in to pre-heated glass jars then seal the lids. Ella Montt’s tip; as the glass jars gradually cool down tighten the lids. Leave to mature (if you can wait!) for about six weeks, then eat as desired.

12th October 2012, Allotment Plot 326, it was breezy sunny day with clouds, with perhaps rain coming later in the evening. Rain in the week had saturated some areas of the Island, turning human streets in to rivers. Ella Montt started to empty out a large bag (from the human construction industry) that she had filled some time ago with roots dug from the Plot. The bag also contained soil that had been attached to the roots. An assistant appeared to help empty the bag, because it was so heavy. When the bag emptied, it revealed at least eight Field Mice and one or two Common Lizards that had been living within the shelters of the soil and roots. The wild creatures ran across the Plot and disappeared beneath other soil coverings to find alternative accommodation. Ella Montt continued with the ground preparation for overwintering seeds.

Harvest: Raspberries = 7oz = 200g; Red Mustard and Mizuna = 6oz = 160g; Spinach Giant Winter = 4.5oz = 125g; a mix of Chard and Perpetual Leaf Beat 14oz = 400g; Climbing Beans 4oz = 110g; Squash Vegetable Spaghetti = 1lb 14.5oz = 860g; Pot Marigold Seed = 5oz = 130g.

16th October 2012, Allotment Plot 326, it was a breezy sunny day (again). It had rained in the last few days and there was promise of more rain in the crystal ball forecast. There had been some degree of frost, the evidence of which could be seen in the Climbing Bean plants that were now damaged. The Climbing Bean plants had been planted too late to achieve a good harvest. The Squash plants had also been frosted and their vibrant matter was in the process of breaking down in to the soil. Ella Montt had a sad face, but she dug an area and cleared another. There was no sign of the Field Mice or the Common Lizards. Ella Montt planted the first seeds to overwinter.

Planted: Broad Bean Supersimonia = 35 seeds; Onion Radar = approximately 90 sets.

Harvest: Raspberries = 4oz = 100g; Squash Green Hokkiado = 1lb 4.5oz = 580g.

23rd October 2012, Allotment Plot 326, Ella Montt was still mourning the loss of Allotment Plot at MERL, but at 326 life, or lives, still continued. The soil had recently been drenched from avid rainfall. The soil now had time to soak up the water and relieve itself if possible from any drought symptoms that might still be lingering. The Climbing Beans were now dead, as was the Squash. The plants were frosted but their roots remained in the soil. Fog had descended and the air was heavy with tiny droplets of moisture. It was Autumn. In the crystal ball forecast weather screen temperatures showed that they would plummet within a few days. Frost had been summoned as a requirement. Ella Montt harvested leafy vegetable matter, knowing that the plants might be damaged when the temperature dropped. The Raspberries were still fruiting.

Ella Montt planted some more Broad Beans and three types of Garlic. Whilst planting, Ella Mont lost count of the number of Garlic cloves, because she became distracted by finding some potatoes hidden in the soil. A few weeks ago the soil had been dry and difficult to dig, now it was heavy and sticky.

Planted: Broad Bean Aquadulce = 35 seeds; Garlic Elephant = 5 cloves, Vallelado = 125g and Sprint = 250g.

Harvest: Raspberries = 5oz = 140g; Potato Nicola = 11oz = 310g; Spinach Giant Winter = 7oz = 200g; Swiss Chard and Perpetual Leaf Beat = 15.5oz = 450g; Canary Chard = 7oz = 200g; Squash Green Hokkaido = 1lb 6oz = 640g; a baby Squash Butternut = 0.5oz = 10g; Mizuna = 4.5oz = 130g; Pak Choi = 6.5oz = 180g; Red Mustard = 4oz = 120g; Tokyo Bekana = 1oz = 20g; Broccoli Raab = 2oz = 40g.

30th October 2012 – Meanwhile, across what is sometimes know as The Pond a state of emergency existed as elements of weather collided with velocity. A storm broke the teacup shattering it in to pieces. The ocean rose up with the full moon high tide flooding land masses, breaking trees and human dwellings. Many humans, their companion animals, plants and wild life lived in the affected areas. Some were left unscathed, but for others recovery would take a long time. Ella Montt clothed herself in black and clutching a pumpkin she howled at the moon; it was after all Halloween.

A Common Lizard

18th July 2012 – Allotment Plot 326 – Heavy rain showers were falling. Ella Montt stood in the doorway of the cramped shed waiting for the rain to ease. The ground was wet and would be muddy if any digging was about to occur. When the rain eased off slightly, EM moved from the shelter to survey the Plot. Wild plants were reaching full seed capacity in the quest to continue their reproduction process. At this stage the immanence of plant reproduction would not be easily thwarted. (Seeds will fall and reseed). The Allotment Plot desired on some levels to achieve a wild plant free zone to aid vegetable productivity. However, the diversity of wild plants on the plot encourages a wide diversity of insects and other wild life that contribute to the health of the vegetable plants and the vibrancy of the soil. The Plot needed more attention to keep the wild plant life in check and some areas might look shabby and neglected, but meanwhile this neglect was reinforcing the biodiversity of the plot. At some point in time the neglect areas might be modified, but the sustainable environment for biodiversity should be maintained; no introduction of herbicides would be necessary.

The Spring planted Broad Beans plants had grown tall. The well-established Bean pods were mainly on the lower half of the plants. The Broad Bean plant is an ancient food crop cultivated by Mediterranean Countries for at least 8000 years. It produces its own nitrogen in the soil and so does not need feeding.

Ella Montt accessed the Onions and the Garlic. There did not seem to be many Onions even though quite a number had been planted last Autumn. There was much more Garlic; its foliage was drying off. It became apparent that the moment to harvest the Garlic and Onions had arrived so the fork was fetched from the shed. The ground was wet so the Garlic was easy to dig. The amount of Garlic dug from the soil seemed a good harvest, (but a memory of how last years Garlic had rotted later on after its harvesting still lingered). Unlike this years Garlic, the Onions were not in such a good state. Some Onions harvested were healthy and firm, but others were soggy or had already rotted and disappeared in to the soil.

Potatoes were also dug from the soil. The Potatoes were somewhat on the small size presumably as a result of the inconsistent weather, which had been at various times consistently dry or consistently wet. The variants of temperatures were not assistants in aiding some vegetable plants to really flourish, unlike the wild plants that survived without hindrance. Vegetable Seeds were planted, (perhaps optimistically), the growing season on the Plot is not over yet and for some seeds it is just beginning.

Seeds planted: French Bean (Dwarf) Royalty; Runner Beans Enorma; French Beans (Climbing) Markant, Blauhide and Barlotta Lingua di Fuoco; a mix of saved Squash seeds from plants grown in 2011; Leaf Beat Rainbow Chard and Beetroot Detroit 2.

Harvest: Potato Red Duke of York = 3lb 4oz = 1.47kg; Broad Beans Hangdown Green = 2lb 12oz = 1.24kg; Leaf Beet Perpetual Spinach = 7oz = 200g; Leaf Beat Swiss Chard = 7oz = 200g; Onions Radar = 2lb 1oz = 940g = 12 bulbs; Garlic Elephant = 2lb = 930g = 3 bulbs, Thermidrome 3lb 2.5oz = 1.44kg = 20 blubs and Vallelado = 2lb 11oz = 1.22kg = 25 bulbs.

On 19th July 2012 at Allotment Plot at MERL, for the time of year the night temperatures were often low for this land position on planet Earth, but eventually it rapidly became a warm, humid day. The Mulberry’s were starting to form on the Mulberry Tree close to the Allotment Plot. William Morris had been sleeping emerged in the bark of the tree, but suddenly he yawned, rolled over, rubbed his head, blinked his eyelids and sat up.

Parts of the Planet were affected by severe drought and other parts were experiencing flooding. Both extreme conditions were contributing to a downward spiral in crops that the humans could harvest.

At Allotment Plot at MERL, Garlic, Onions and more Peas were harvested. The Garlic foliage was placed in the Brick Composter to decompose. Rocket Esmee seeds that had been grown on the Plot were scattered on to open soil.

Harvest: Peas Ezeta’s Krombek Blauwschokker 1lb 1oz = 740g; Onion Radar 1lb 9oz = 705g = 11 bulb; Chives 1oz = 20g; Garlic Elephant 11oz = 320g = 2 bulbs, Thermidrome = 13oz = 300g and Vallelado = 7oz = 200g.

24th July 2012 – Allotment Plot 326 – It was a very hot sunny day. The soil had dried out again and the temperature had risen. A small forest of four Oak Trees seedlings was growing in a pot. The seedlings had been collected from Plot 326 and now need a planting destination so that they can grow as Trees for the next 1000 years. The Acorn is a much neglected food source of protein and carbohydrate and can be used as a substitute for coffee. The Fruit trees on the Plot had produced virtually no fruit. There was a promise of potential Raspberry’s sometime in the not too distant future as the plants were starting to flower. A few more Onions were dug from the soil. A large Dragonfly circled in the air feeding on insect life that was un-discernable.

Harvest: Potato Charlotte = 2lb 12oz = 1.24kg; Onions Radar = 1lb 8.5oz = 700g; Broad Beans Hangdown Green = 3lb 10oz = 1.65kg.

27th July 2012 – Allotment Plot at MERL – The green colours of the plants were fading, a yellow tinge seeping through the vibrant green. The Pea plants were drying off. EB was examining the Potatoes. She advised that digging should commence sometime soon. It was next consecutive day without rain in a line of days without rain. The soil had dried again, because of lack of moisture and hot daytime temperatures. Across the sea’s water mass the land to the west was in severe drought, the sweet corn and soybean were scorched and harvests in some places were failing. A loss of human lively hood is occurring and farmed animals will be slaughtered because the feed the humans supply them with is unavailable. Humans on one land mass supply humans on another landmass with corn and beans so the problem is not a rural local problem confined to one land mass, it is a global problem. Meanwhile on other land masses flooding continued in unexpected places and was drowning plants and other living things. The ice on Greenland had decided to melt to illustrate the extremity of the Planet situation, in days previously a large iceberg had broken off a glacier. Satellites recorded imagery of the ice melting on the land mass, but there was no immediate solution. Human media showed the remarkable images of the newly green land. Then most of the humans forgot about Greenland, because other things such as human achievements in contesting sports distracted them. Whilst the other humans were distracted some humans took the opportunity to make plans to mine Greenland for precious gems, minerals and metals. It was another preventable ecological disaster waiting in the wings to be directed by humans, but it was understood that most humans would not notice until the disaster until it was too late. WM stood in the shade of the Mulberry Tree. The first fruit were ripening on the tree.

The Peas were coming to the end of their lifespan. The Runner Beans were starting to flower. The soil was dry. Ella Montt fetched the watering can from the shed and applied water to the Plot. Some Climbing Bean plants had emerged from the soil, but it was almost to late now for others to follow. The window of this particular Plot’s activity was closing, two more months and it would be over.

Harvest: Peas Ezeta’s Krombek Blauwschokker 14oz = 400g.

31st July 2012 – At Allotment Plot 326, black Beetles, a Common Lizard, and other wild life were living in harmony with the rhizome activity of plant life. The Common Lizard was discovered sitting on damp cardboard when another piece of cardboard was repositioned. The reptile did not move away quickly, Ella Montt went to retrieve a digital image-recording device, but as she returned the creature went to hide before image focus was achieved. The reptilian tail could be seen poking out form under a piece of wood and was then left undisturbed.

Some areas of the Plot’s soil were damp and workable while other patches were dry and it was hard to gain leverage with the fork. Black Beetles appeared in different places. More potatoes were dug and Broad Beans harvested. Some wild plants were removed from around the Plot and deposited in a composting pile. Many more wild plants remained unhindered. Beans and Squash seeds that had been planted recently were germinating, but Ella Montt’s crystal ball was cloudy and it was hard to see if the seedling plants would live long enough to produce harvestable vegetable matter in the next few months before frost would come. More seeds were planted in an attempt to grow edible greens. Others vegetable seeds that had been planted a few weeks before were emerging with potential.

Seeds Planted: Runner Beans Enorma; French Bean (Climbing) Markant, Blauhide and Barlotta Lingua di Fuoco; Carrot Nantes II; Calabrese Green Sprouting; Broccoli Raab; Cabbage Wintergreen; Oriental Red Mustard, Mizuna and Tokyo Bekana.

Harvest: Leaf Beet Perpetual Spinach and Rainbow Chard 7oz = 250g; Broad Beans Hangdown Green = 4lb 13oz = 2.175kg; Potato Red Duke of York 1lb 9.5oz = 730g and Charlotte 4lb 4oz = 1.94kg; Red Onions Red Baron = 4oz = 100g = 2 bulbs; Onion Radar = 12oz = 340g = 6 bulbs.

Vegetable Matter

7th July 2012 – Ella Montt had visited other plants in other lands, where they were other small garden cultivation plot systems. At Allotment Plot at MERL, Rain had fallen. The Broad Beans had succumbed to the pestilence of Black Fly. The thwarted plants were rotting and needed to be uprooted to destroy the scourge. Hence, the Broad Beans were ripped from the soil and placed in the Brick Composter to finish their decomposition. Some Pods were harvested so all was not lost in the grip of nature. A space was now cleared on the Plot next to the Peas. Celery and Tomato plants, which had been raised in the fixed up greenhouse, were transplanted in to the vacated soil space to await growth expansion. The rest of the Plot was green, punctuated with Borage blue and orange Pot Marigold flowers. The Elephant Garlic Scape alien like flower heads were bursting open to reveal seed, the stalks were tall, slender and reaching for the sky. Bees were busy accumulating pollen.

Harvest: Onions Radar = 9.5oz = 265g = 3 blubs; Garlic Thermidrome = 5oz = 145g = 1 bulb; Broad Beans Superaquadulce and Supersimonia 1lb = 450g; Peas Meteor = 3oz = 80g, Kelvedon Wonder and Ambassador = 5oz = 150g, Mange Tout Oregon Sugar Pod II = 8oz = 220g, Ezeta’s Krombek Blauwschokker = 1lb 2oz = 520g.

9th July 2012 – At Allotment Plot 326, Ella Montt was having difficulty comprehending the extent of wild plant growth. The Plot will need intensive labour to improve its condition as a source of edible vegetable matter.

Harvest: Potato Nicola = 5oz = 120g; Garlic Thermidrome = 3.5oz = 75g = 1 bulb.

On 12th July 2012 Allotment Plot at MERL was damp and expecting rain for the rest of the day. Some places across the globe were experiencing flooding because of extreme amounts of rainfall. The floods often inflicted devastation upon plants and other forms of life. Ella Montt harvested Peas and planted a row of French Bean (Climbing) Neckargold. The Beans would need to grow quickly to provide any harvest. The window of planting opportunity was closing fast on the Allotment Plot. Some Enorma plants were climbing other plants so bamboo was installed to aid the Beans upwards.

Harvest: Wild Rocket = 2oz = 60g; Peas Ezeta’s Krombek Blauwshokker = 15oz = 440g, Rondo = 5.5oz = 160g.

Companion Planting, Vibrancy and Pestilance

13th June 2012 – at Allotment Plot At MERL, there had been heavy rain on the 11th. The temperature was often chilly for June, but at that moment the sun was out, (although later in the day grey clouds would accumulate blocking the warmth of rays from the golden light object mass). Ella Montt was in a hurry; she was involved in the cultivation field so access to the Allotments Plots was limited.

The Peas were flowering and Pods were starting to form. The Broad Beans had flowered, but Pods had not yet formed. Some black fly was now present on the Broad Bean plants. The chill in the air was delaying the growth of many of the plants. At least rain had fallen recently to quench the plant roots thirst. Other companion plants were starting to flower; these were Borage, Calendula Pot Marigold, and Green Manure Phacelia. Other companion plants such as Chamomile, Cosmos and Sunflowers, were as yet still seedlings. At another location, the fixed up greenhouse, germinating seeds and seedlings were having difficulties, because the weather temperatures were so erratic and extreme. The heat and inclemency was causing inconsistent growth for un-established plant units, the result of which was becoming a system failure in adequate diversity of vegetable plants for the allotment-growing year. The alarm of unreliable vegetable production was not an ideal situation, but would be relieved temporarily by the Pea production at forthcoming harvesting. Meanwhile at Allotment Plot at MERL, most of the plants looked healthy and did not appear to be suffering.

Ella Montt planted out two Gardener’s Delight Tomato plants and a Black Beauty Courgette between the Pea plants. Then she took a handful of Sweet Corn True Gold, Squash and Bean seeds, distributed them randomly (with intent) and embedded them in the soil. The Onions, the Garlic and the Potatoes physical condition were good. Rocket Esmee was flowering, because it had remained unharvested.

17th June 2012 – At Allotment Plot 326, a challenging situation had developed because the Allotment Plot had been left unattended. The plants were out of control and a chaotic situation of wild plant growth had over grown areas left uncultivated. Ella Montt quickly worked an area that had been somewhat protected by a cardboard covering. Then planted out Squash seedlings, unsure if they would be able to survive against the ferocious mouths of predators. More wild pants were already going to seed, so their removal would not stop the self-seeding reproductive system that was already in process. The Plot next to 326 had not been touched by human hand since early summer 2011 so each passing breeze amplified the situation of wild seed multiplicity. The potential fruit on the Apple and Cherry trees had disappeared perhaps because of drought followed by torrential rain and winds blowing with force across the unprotected Allotment.

Harvest: Broad Beans Superaquadulce = 3lbs 11oz = 1.95kg; Chard = 7.5 oz = 205g; Spinach Perpetual Leaf Beet = 4.5oz = 130g.

27th June 2012 – Pestilence had arrived at Allotment Plot at MERL in the form of a plague of Black Fly. So far the plague was only on the Broad Beans. It was disturbing to see the once healthy plants inflicted in this manner. The other plants seemed uninfected. The orange and blue of companion flowering plants and pink of the Pea flowers were striking against green plant foliage covering the rest of the Plot. The plague of insect life seemed to be consuming the plants energetic force field, suffocating the vibrancy that had pulsated through the plants.

Harvest: a mixture of Peas = 11oz = 300g, Mange Tout Oregon Sugar Pod II = 11oz = 300g.

Parched Earth, Rain Fall

2nd April 2012, at Allotment Plot 326 the parched Earth was resigned to the tight grip that Drought had on the soil. The grip was in the process of tightening. The soil was cracking. Blossoms enclosed in tight buds were forming on the fruit trees and bushes, but the young Plum Tree, planted a year ago on the Plot, looked like at some point in time it had died. The over-wintered Garlic continued to grow, but the Onions were very thin and faltering. Broad Bean foliage looked uncertain. Water levels in rivers, lakes and human-made reservoir storage facilities were very low. Rain needs to fall in the winter months to really soak the ground. Any rain that falls in the summer months evaporates again too easily or floods because it cannot be absorbed quick enough in to dry ground.

Soil was uncovered and prepared. Potatoes were planted in trenches. Ella Montt saw a Toad climb across the disturbed earth. The Toad headed for some cardboard and disappeared in to concealment. Worms extended their bodies across the soil and sank back in to its hidden depths.

Black smoke rose in to the air from somewhere across the Allotments. A waft of unpleasant aroma moved through the air producing a smell of incinerating plastic or some other unidentified entity.

Seeds planted = Potato Red Duke of York and Nicola.

9th April 2012 – Allotment Plot 326, the fruit blossoms were close to opening. More potatoes were planted. The Hose Pipe ban had come in to affect, yet it had rained.

Seeds planted = Potato Desiree.

12th April 2012, at Allotment Plot at MERL Ella Montt weeded the Plot. The plant residue was placed in the Brick Composter. It had rained after the Hose Pipe Ban came in to affect, but this did not mean that the drought was over. The two-winter drought had depleted stores of water and rivers. Rain in winter seeps in to the ground. Rain in the summer months may not build up the water reserves and reverse the drought; because it is warmer the moisture evaporates more easily.

Ella Montt started to cut the bamboo in to 110cm lengths. The bamboo was pushed it in to the hard ground to erect supports for the Pea plants. A net structure was tied between the supports for the Peas to cling on to.

14th April 2012, in the fixed up Greenhouse at another location, some Tomato seedlings were emerging. Ella Montt planted more seeds. Close by a Black Bumble Bee had chosen to nest under some old concrete; soon smaller Bee Friends would be

Seeds planted: Cucumber Tanja x 6, Marketmore x 6; Melon Sivan Fi x 6; Courgette Black Beauty x 12, Gold Rush x 5; Marrow Long Green Bush x 4, Sunburst F1 x 5, Tigers Cross x 5; Pumpkin Mars x 6, Giant Atlantic x 4, Connecticut Field x 4 ; Squash Big Max x 3, Twonga x 6.

16th April 2012, Allotment Plot 326, now the fruit blossoms were bursting open, but the Plum tree stilled seemed dead. More potatoes were planted and other seeds. The soil was dry, the earth parched, even after April showers.

Seeds planted: Potato Charlotte; Onion Red Baron x 250g; Broad Bean  Hangdown Green x 20; Brussels Sprout Groninger; Leek Blue Green Winter; Carrot Rodelika; Beetroot Bolivar.

20th April 2012, at Allotment Plot at MERL the soil looked more moist. The showers of April seemed as though they had jumped back in to synchronicity and a more expected rhythm. Ella Montt examined the Plot for evidence of wildlife consuming the vegetable seedlings as they emerged from the soil. Sometimes there was no evidence; plant material vanished without any trace.

30th April 2012, by the end of April rainfall had accelerated in to a sudden deluge. The ground under the surface was still parched and hard, so the water in some places flooded. Within a matter of days it became the wettest April on the Island in over one hundred years. Once again there was an experience of extreme weather.

March, almost without Precipitation

In the human settlement of Reading, the month of March 2012 was without Precipitation apart from on the 4th March. Even before the month was over it was possible for Ella Montt to gaze in to the crystal ball and see that the forecast contained no evidence that Precipitation would occur in that time period. The weather was and is beautiful. The temperatures seem perfect, yet a paradox exists, and within the paradox sits the object that is Global Warming. The object is almost a phenomenon, but at the same time it is still an object, a living, vibrant object, pulsating in a galaxy amongst other stars and planets. The humans, who existed within the object, were vigilant to extend the object so that Global Warming could continue on its path. The Warming that produced the pleasurable temperatures and dryness of March had the power to seduce the human population. Desirable sunshine mellowed each day as it passed. Some of the humans did not notice the Warming, because they existed in the state of mellow seduction and could not sense the dryness of the soil or the moisture levels receding.

1st March 2012 – Allotment Plot 326 – Ella Montt continued to cover the soil with processed tree products to act as a barrier mulch to decrease moisture evaporation. Leeks and a Parsnip were dug up.

Harvest: Leeks Blue Green Winter = 4oz = 100g; Parsnips Halblange = 6oz = 180g.

9th March 2012 – Allotment Plot at MERL – Ella Montt returned to the Plot, the anticipated sunshine was absent and the sky was dull grey. In the garden last night at another location Ella Montt had gazed at a large Moon, it was white and full, small clouds drifted through across the sky in formation. The sky on this particular night was a thing of exquisite beauty, the Moon a spectacle of infinite eternity. Beyond the Moon in further regions, many light years a way, new stars were forming. Back on Earth, the air that surrounded the Plot had a delicate refinement that was devoid of all moisture content.

At the Plot shoots of Garlic were starting to emerge. Broad Beans were not apparent. The Onions looked weak. Ella Montt harvested the remaining Leeks and then removed more Mint Rhizomes. The Sage plants seemed to be dead so they were dug up. Where the herbs had been removed, Rocket and Beetroot seeds were planted. The Bamboo wigwam was dismantled. The long Bamboo lengths were cut in half so that they could be stored in the rafters of the shed. Stones were gathered in to a wheelbarrow and dispensed to the wild part of the garden amongst the trees.

Harvest: Leeks Blue Green Winter = 5oz = 150g; Herb roots (Mint, Chives, Thyme, Sage, and Strawberry) = 3lb 1oz = 1.48Kg

14th March 2012 – At another location, a Sweet Potato was placed in a glass jar filled with water.

15th March 2012 – The day had started of shrouded in chilling fog, which had the gradually melted away to produce an almost cloudless light blue sky. At Allotment Plot at MERL the soil was very dry. A huge Bumble Bee murmured close by, it was in search of emerging petaled flowers. Ella Montt planted three rows of Broad Beans next to the Brick Composter. These Beans were replacements for ones that were planted in the Autumn to overwinter, which had never appeared. Next five rows of Peas were planted.

Seeds Planted: Rocket Esmee; Heirloom Beetroot Flat of Egypt; Broad Bean Superaquadulce x 1 row, Supersimonia x 2 rows; Pea Meteor x 60 seeds, Kelvedon Wonder x 60 seeds, Ambassador x 60 seeds, (Mange-tout) Oregon Sugar Pod x 60 seeds and (Edible Podded) Ezetha’s Krombek Bluaschokker x 15 seeds.

19th March 2012 – Allotment Plot 326 – It continued to be dry, a drought was in full effect. There seemed little point in planting seeds at Plot 326. The overwintered Broad Beans were gradually being nibbled. There was evidence of mouse activity. Garlic and Onions were slowly, slowly growing. Ella Montt demolished a mound of compost, distributed it and then covered the area with tree products (newspaper, cardboard, wood). A blue trap was unfolded, stretched across part of the Plot and then weighted down with wood. The tarp and the tree product mulch were aids in moisture retention, if there was any left in the soil at all, it needed to be contained and restricted from evaporation. Worms were sent messages encouraging their participation in soil maintenance production. Ella Montt had decided the digging needed to be restricted and weed growth hampered. There were no vegetables to harvest.

22nd March 2012 – At Allotment Plot at MERL, it was truly a hungry gap. It would be some weeks before any harvest could be contemplated. Pot Marigold seeds were germinating on the Plot and some Rocket. A Globe Artichoke plant that had been frost damaged contemplated revival. Ella Montt fetched the watering can, a hose pipe ban was soon to be enforced across the land.

24th March 2012 – In the fixed up green house at another location, more seeds were planted.

Seeds planted: Tomato Golden Queen, San Marzano, Rotkappchen, St. Pierre; Sunflower Tiger EyeSunrise Yellow; Celeriac Ibis; Celery Tall Utah; Cabbage (Savoy) Marner Grufewi, Vertus.

Winter Drought

The Allotment Plots are sitting in an area experiencing a two-year winter drought.

On the 9th February at Allotment Plot at MERL, it was a cold, dull, grey day. The ground was dry and frigid. Evaporation was methodically drying the soil. The recent weather conditions had been a mixture of bright sunshine, frost, snow and a lack of rain; the frost however, was not icy, because of this. The Mulberry Tree sat next to the Plot breathing slowly, waiting for Spring and it’s sap to rise again. Ella Montt had arrived at the Plot anticipating the harvesting of slender Leeks, but the Leeks were too slim pickings and so were left attached to the soil. The potential of this year’s plant growth within the Plot was severely delayed. The evidence of vegetables was becoming questionable to the human eye. Garlic and Onion shoots looked like they were trying to emerge from the soil, but they seemed most uncertain. A force that stretched from across the galaxy and interacted with the Earth’s moisture flow was restricting Ella Montt’s efforts.

12th February 2012 – At Allotment Plot 326 snow lay on the ground, some of it had melted away. Leeks were harvested. Drought continued.

Harvest: Leeks Blue Green Winter = 1lb 7oz = 650g.

24th February 2012 – There was still no rain and the temperature was almost like an early spring. Many breathing objects, including humans, announced that the climatic conditions were quite beautiful. Kant walked outside in to the open air and nodded with agreement. In the fixed-up greenhouse at another location, Ella Montt decided it was not too early to plant seeds.

Seeds planted: Brussels Sprouts Darkmor 21; Tomato Marmande, Chadwick and Brandywine; Pepper (Hot) Earley Jalapeno and Ring O’Fire; Artichoke Arad and Aubergine Black Beauty.

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.