Monthly Archives: July 2010

Garlic Harvest a Performance

Allotment (1) took place on 8 July 2010 at Allotment Plot @MERLReading; the Garlic and Radar Onions were harvested. Please note this action was filmed as a Performance and will be shown in exhibition format at a later date.

Onion Radar

Before the performance Ella Montt was sitting in the shade of the Mulberry tree and made the following observations about the Allotment Plot. The day started off slightly damp and cooler to the previous high temperature, but by 11am on arrival at the Plot, the clouds had started to drift apart a little to let the sun break through. The humidity in the Garden at MERL had rocketed and the atmosphere was sweating. Borage and Pot Marigolds continue to flower and bees are visiting. Cosmos and Nasturtium flowers have also blossomed, but the plants growth seems somewhat stunted as does much of the vegetables, presumably because lack of moisture in the soil. All plants are steadily yet slowly growing. Brassicas are recovering under the influence of the heavy metal CDs, which have deterred or maybe thwarted the Pigeons appetites. Tomatoes are beginning to flower and fruits form, the side shoots will not be removed from the plants, they will be allowed to bush out in all directions.

Squash Flower allotment107

During the Garlic and Onion harvesting Performance sentences from Deluzes & Guattari book A Thousand Plateaus – Rhizome were recited pertaining to the Rhizome and plant life. The book became buried under the Garlic and Onion bulbs. The recorded results for the harvest were as follows:

Onions Radar originally planted 36 sets. Onions Radar harvested 20 bulbs with stalks = 1lb 8oz = 680grams once stalks were removed bulbs weighed 1lb 5oz = 600grams

Garlic Thermidrome, 14 cloves were originally planted. Garlic Thermidrome harvested 13 cloves which weighed 12oz = 320grams.

Garlic Sprint, originally planted 15 cloves, harvested 14 cloves which weighed 13oz = 360grams. Garlic Sprint 14 Scapes harvested which weighed 4oz = 100grams.

Some Rainbow Chard was also harvested which weighed 6 oz = 180grams.

Garlic Harvest

This week Detroit featured in an interesting article on urban regeneration through food growing in empty spaces. The decline of the car industry in the town has made way for food cultivation. Any where that can grow plants that can be harvested as free food for local people is shaping how we can live outside of business consumed society.

Allotment July2Allotment July

Drought at the Plot and Berlin

On 1 July, after returning from a visit to the Berlin Biennale, the Allotment Plot experienced a quick hoe down. The ground was exceptionally dry, the BBC weather person reported it was the driest first half of the year since 1929! Seaweed water was applied in a form of soaking action. Some of the plants seemed to be flourishing even though they were experiencing drought. Marigold flowers had opened in vivid shades of orange. A few flowers had appeared on the tomato plants.

Pot Marigold

The Garlic scapes continue to develop; soon the plants will be harvested. If Garlic plants are left too long their visibility above ground starts to diminish, their green stalks fade to dry wisps and then disappear altogether leaving the Garlic cloves hidden beneath the soil.

Garlic Scape Stalk

Squash plants that could be growing in all directions to reach out tendrils in random directions are still static, but at any moment the directional journeys could begin. A sparse mixed line of Lettuce seeds were applied with Florence Fennel Romanesco. The lettuce seeds were Lollo Rosso, Marvel of the Four Seasons and Solix.

Squash & Lettuce

The Heavy Metal CDs seem to have deterred some of the Pigeon activity, but as the CDs are an on going experiment in plant defense systems the situation will need to be carefully monitored.

Allotment July 1

Berlin is one third green space. It has some large parks and many trees. Berlin like the rest of Germany also has Allotment gardens know mostly as “Kleing√§rten”or “Schreberg√§rten”. Traveling across Germany by train it is possible to catch glimpses of Allotments close to the railway lines as one can in the UK.

Germany Allotment

Broadbeans and Peas uprooted

On the 18/06/2010 at the Allotment Plot the Broadbeans and Peas were over and out. The remaining produce was harvested. The plants were uprooted. The last Pea pods harvested weighed 60grams = 2oz once shelled = 1oz Peas = 20grams. The last Broadbean pods harvested weighed 9oz = 250grams once shelled = 2oz = 60grams. Harvesting is an event. The total harvest produced was far less than anticipated.

Broadbeans & Peas up rooted

It is hard to know with a new allotment plot what production to expect in the first year. Vegetable growing businesses such as Tolhurst Organic have years of experience in knowing what to grow and how to grow it. The work is labour intensive and produce amounts vary from year to year determined by random factors and weather conditions. Growing all kinds of plants for market consumption takes a good deal of expert knowledge. If the business is to grow one crop per growing cycle year then all thought processes surround that one crop, but if the business is to grow multiple crops all year round for a vegetable box delivery scheme or for shop consumption then tangible thought processes of multiplicity surround the crops. That is not to say that the thought process for a single crop is not complicated, but it is more rooted in one crop. The thought process for growing multiple crops must in a sense be more rhizomatic, the attention moving from one crop to another. The thoughts graft on to the radicle-system not just a principle root system; the crop rotation layers are folded onto one another. “The rhizome itself assumes very diverse forms, from ramified surface extension in all directions to concretion into bulbs and tubers. […] The rhizome includes the best and the worst: potato and couchgrass, or the weed.” (Deluzes & Guattari Rhizome – A Thousand Plateaus). A rhizome grown underground is that of Tumeric or Ginseng, therefore is not a rhizome grown above ground that extends in all directions a Squash plant or plants such as Nasturium, Tomato, Pea, or climbing Bean?

In the space that appeared from the Broadbean and Pea removal Sweetcorn seedlings that had been reared in the fixed up greenhouse were planted. The summer Spinach that had gone to seed was pulled out of dry ground and all the uprooted plants were gathered for transportation to the compost bin across the garden amongst the trees. The Pot Marigolds were beginning to form buds. Seaweed concentrate was mixed with water in a watering can and applied to the plot soaking it with intensity. Lack of rain continues the soil is parched desperately thirsty for any moisture.

Brassica defence against Pigeon invasion was applied in the form of CDs scripted with the words; “HEAVY METAL!” tied with blue plastic string to bamboo support canes. This is an experiment to see whether or not Pigeons are fans of Heavy Metal, if they are not they should stay away from the Brassica plants. How this will be tested since there is no surveillance system is by noting if the vegetable plants thrive and grow. Heavy Metal is unable to be played aloud within MERL’s garden so the Pigeons need to be sensitive to the suggestion of Heavy Metal as a complete genre.

Heavy Metal Pigeon Defence