Monthly Archives: January 2010

Seeds at the Studio Allotment

More seeds were planted at the studio allotment on the 27/01/2010.  The seeds were sourced from Tamar Organics. These seeds planted were as follows:

Aubergine Black Beauty x 15

Pepper Sweet Tamar x 15

Pepper (Hot) Ring of Fire x 12

Pepper (Hot) Early Jalapeno x 12

Pepper Seeds

Aubergine Seeds

The seeds that had germinated on 29/01/2010 were recorded as follows:

Tomato Zuckertraube = 10

Tomato Gardeners Delight = 5

Nasturium = 3

Pot Marigold = 11

Sweet Pea = 5

Cosmos = 6

Carnation = 3

If seeds are rooted too early, life support may fail due to weather intervention. This failure can happen in the internal designated growing space, in this case the studio, (or more commonly in a greenhouse or domestic interior area) and externally, when a plant is growing in the open air. Failure in the growing cycle can happen unexpectedly at any given time due to adverse weather conditions. The breakdown of the organic growing machine and catastrophic crop failure can fracture systems and cause devastation for species. It is not just a question of survival of the fittest but an attribute of unpredictability out of human control.

Studio Allotment

The Allotment in the studio is in its early stages. Within the first week that the seeds were planted, tiny seedlings started to emerge, somewhat prematurely. “January – March” was the suggested planting window on the seed packets, but if the plants develop too soon there is a danger that they will die and be lost, composting themselves back to the earth. Careful management and monitoring of the seedlings will need to take place. Although growing and germinating conditions are obviously good as a consequence of enough heat and light, life support may not be that easy. The seedlings will need re-potting fairly soon. The process of growing and food production begins rooted in the studio prior to the outdoor growing destination at the Allotment at MERL.


Seed Planting

Seeds were planted in the studio for the MERL allotment plot. The studio will act as a propagator for the photosynthetic organisms to generate. Old plug trays were used as initial receptacles for seed germination. Seeds are from Tamar Organics. Compost originated from recycled green waste matter collected by RBC processed into compost and then sold back to the community.

January seed plantings:

Tomato – Gardeners Delight (x 18)

Tomato – Chadwick (x 12)

Tomato – Zuckertraube (x 12)

Onion – Red Baron (x 18)

Sage – Salvia Officinalio (x 12)

Flat Leaved Parsley (x 14)

Companion Planting seeds (very important in the organic growing process):

Cosmos – Cosmea (x 20)

Pot Marigold – Calendula Officinalis (x 19)

Sweet Pea – Tamar Mix (x 13)

Nasturium – Organic Mix (x 5)

Dahlia (x 7)

Carnation – (Giant Chabaud Mixed (x 7)

Seed Planting

Allotment Aesthetics

After a week when the allotment plot at MERL was covered in snow, the vegetable plants are still surviving, but some are suffering frost and snow damage. It would seem frost burn is the condition, a few of the Broadbeans are slightly effected, as is the Garlic and the Peas more so, but there are no outright casualties. The Sprint Garlic is growing (sprinting), much more quickly than the Thermidrome Garlic, which is only just appearing out of the soil. The Onion sets growths are very slow. Can the aesthetic condition of a vegetable reflect the state of the world through political consensus? Or is the political to blind to see the aesthetic?allotment32Broadbeans Frost BurnPeas Frost Burn


Allotment Before Significant Snowfall

On Tuesday 5th January the allotment was visited before the subsequent significant evening snowfall. An hour after the visit, the snow started to fall. By morning Reading was covered in a thick blanket of 8-10 inches of snow.

At the time of the visit all the vegetables were remarkably still alive. The broadbeans and garlic looked very healthy, but the peas looked like they are suffering from frost damage.

Peas and Broadbeans

Three days later, the snow has not melted. The UK and indeed much of the northern hemisphere have been engulfed by freezing temperatures. Business is not as usual for many in the UK, because roads are hazardous with snow. The largest snowfall in thirty years in the UK or the freezing winter temperatures were unpredicted, these conditions are the weather, they do not indicate climate change is not warming and if anything are all part of that, because the southern hemisphere is experiencing higher temperatures than ‘normal’ for this time of year.

How weather conditions affect society as behavorial patterns adept to limitations of conventional activity through commerce and consumption is played out through profit and loss. Vegetations slow growth, in winter’s freezing and snowy conditions, lies dormant. However if the plant is not one that over winters this can result in demise and crop failure.

The winter spinach plants on the allotment plot were not planted earlier enough to provide food for winter, but their growth may increase if the weather becomes warmer.

Spinach Seedlings

Allotment Frost

Allotment Installation

A garden shed, although not essential, is an important part of an allotment holders working space. The shed acts as a container for contemplation, thought patterns, rumination over tasks to be actioned or fulfilled, a place for rest from elemental phenomenon over a cup of tea and sandwich, a storage area for tools, seeds and any other random useful piece of gardening equipment, a radio, a thermos.

Allotment Intallation

‘Growing your own’ can be a defining moment for a community or an individual in establishing a link to independent food production, in food deserts this is essential where there are no shops that sell fresh fruit and vegetables in urban or rural areas. Dependency on consumerism from supermarkets has meant the loss of many local greengrocers and the ability for many to grow food. The history of having access to land on which to grow has evolved over time, according to what part of the world one lives in. The term “Allotment” can mean different things to different people. The “Allotment Acts” of the UK refer to providing plots of land for gardening type food production, however in America the Dawes Allotment Act of 1887 sought to divide up the Reservation land for Native American Indians and failed in what it set out to do. To establish one’s own access to growing fresh fruit and vegetables, you do not need to have your own allotment, or garden space, imaginative use of containers and window boxes can give good yields.

The consumerism from growing and gardening is enormous in the UK. A packet of seeds can be so tiny and seem so simple, but the products on sale that are out there waiting for financial exchange are infinite. Seed saving is something that many people do as part of their automatic growing process, seed exchanges are not uncommon, recently as part of Art staged in protest at Cop 15 one of the activities was a soup kitchen where the artists involved, dealing with the real, grow and collect their own vegetable seeds some of these seeds are allegedly becoming illegal under EU law. Save seeds from organic fruits and vegetables, you never know when we might need them.

Allotment Installation (2)

Snowfall – Winter on the Allotment

Winter arrived at the Allotment in the form of snowfall during the night of the 17th December 2009. The snow was beautiful in it’s natural state creating an unexpected winter wonderland, however the streets and pavements of Reading became a treacherous mess for human activity. On Monday 22nd December further snowfall in and around Reading resulted in the town grinding to a halt in gridlock. Pre Christmas consumerism and everyday necessity meant that there were many cars on the road and the snow’s affect resulted in hazardous conditions. The snow soon turned into thick ice that was left unattended and remained that way for almost a week before rain melted it and washed it away.

MERL has been closed over the festive season, tomorrow it will reopen and plant growth observation can recommence. Will the peas and beans have been killed yet by the frost? Winter is known as the gardeners slow time in activity. It is a time for planning for the months ahead. If one has winter vegetables, which are a vital source of nutrients, harvesting can go on throughout the year. The frost and snow increases the sweetness of the leafy greens and root vegetables such as parsnips, however if the ground is frozen solid, digging the latter can become problematic.

Snowfall on the AllotmentSnowfall in MERL's Garden

Snowfall on Peas