Monthly Archives: September 2010

Energetic Force Field

16/09/2010 in the garden at MERL at the Allotment Plot, Ella Montt harvested a small Squash that had unfortunately been attacked by something with teeth. Glistening trails were detected as the evidence of slug and snail activity, this kind of activity has been thankfully minimal, presumably because of the dry weather conditions this growing year. The Sweetcorn need to accelerate their growth in order to be edible if not their destiny will be compost material. Cosmos Cosmea pink will continue to flower for the next few weeks, the white Cosmos’s life force has faded as has the Sunflowers, the latter is concentrating its energetic capacity in seed generation. The Leeks are growing, but slender, beans continue to be prolific and reach for the sky. It was decided that two small Soleil F1 Courgettes would be left to survive another week on the Plot to maximize their growth, will they be attacked or will their energetic force field hold and not be penetrated, only time will tell. The temperature of the days and nights are dropping, the evenings are getting darker, the angle of the sun is shifting, Autumn is on its way. Green Manure seeds Phacelia Tanacetifolia were scattered on the Plot (to be dug in before flowering, some flowers can be left to attract biodiversity). SweetcornCosmea 2

Harvesting commenced: Tomatoes = 1lb4oz = 560g; Kale Pentland Brig 1oz = 40g; Squash Green Hokkadio = 4oz = 100g; Dwarf Bean Royalty = 1oz = 40g; Runner Beans = 12oz = 340g; Climbing French Beans Blue Lake = 12oz = 340g and Blauhide 2oz = 50g.

The complication of Fine Art Practice Based PhD research should not be under estimated.

Slender Leeks

Cosmos Cosmea

The weather conditions on 09/09/2010 at Ella Montt’s Plot in MERL’s garden were favourable for early September, neither too hot nor too cold; there was a mixture of sun and clouds in the sky. Both white and pink Cosmos Cosmea were flowering. Ella Montt wonders if the structures of the Cosmos flowers are universally judged to be beautiful or if it is herself that critiques these flowers in such a way?

Cosmos Cosmea

The Pepper plant’s life energy is fading. It is up rooted from the Plot. In contrast the Aubergine plant appears healthy, but still bearing no fruit.  A few of the Squash plants are fruiting but too late in the growing season for substantial growth, they will need water and sunshine to accelerate their plumping.

Squash Fruit

The days harvesting commenced: Courgette Soleil F1 = 2oz = 40grams; 3 Dwarf Beans Royalty = 1oz = 20g; Rainbow Chard = 1.5oz = 30g; Kale Pentland Brig = 3oz = 60g; Kale Red Russian Curled = 1oz = 20g; Tomatoes = 1lb4oz = 600g; Cucumber = 2oz = 40g; French Climbing Beans Blue Lake = 1lb4oz = 600g and Blauhide 1.5oz = 30g; Runner Beans = 7oz = 200g.

Plot 326

Plot 326 tenancy started on 24th August 2010. The key to the plot arrived in the mail on 27th August and the first visit to the new Plot took place on the 28th August, subsequent visits to the Plot have taken place since then and will continue on a regular basis. The whole Allotment site is extensive and the waiting list for this particular site at Bulmershe is long and now at the numerical figure of 88. When Ella Montt signed up to the waiting list in November 2010 the waiting list was half the number as it currently stands, this would suggest that there is a fairly active turnover of Plot holders, but it may also suggest that individual flux is a reality in society as a whole and that static living is not a common factor for many.

Allotment Plot 326

Gaining tenancy was and still is an exciting moment for Ella Montt who now became an Allotment Holder. The experimental Plot at MERL will now have a research area not just in the historic garden at MERL, but Ella Montt would also become part of or linked in to Allotment History on a town site that has been in existence for many years, a space that has much history of its own. Ella Montt will share the people’s rights to growing space for food. Allotments in the United Kingdom were originally set up for the working classes, poor or unemployed people when they were denied access to land through the Inclosure Acts. The parliamentary Acts were a gradual process from medieval times but the passing of these Acts accelerated around the 18th to 19th Century. The rich often appropriated Common Land that was once open to all and the people were denied access to growing space or to forage for fuel wood and food. A mass exodus from the rural areas at this time, because of lack of work and means of support coincided with industrial revolution, towns and cities began to grow rapidly, and space was needed as part of both the rural village and urban areas for the workers or unemployed to grow food for subsistence.

Allotment 3/9/10

Various Allotment Acts were passed over many years to allow the right to land with in a given area. Much like strip farming of medieval days this land was divided up and rented to the Growers. During the 1914-18 War, because food was needed, the demographic of allotment holder grower changed to be not just the poor, but also anyone who was able to implement this action. In WW2 1939-45 Allotment land was converted from any land, garden, or park space that could be made available. The need for food is universal, so this was a parallel affect in other countries affected by war at this time.

The popularity of access to Allotment space comes and goes. For some individuals they have asserted their right to this growing space for many years. In recent years awareness that being able to grow ones own food can be beneficial in many ways. It is an enjoyable way to maintain health through outdoor activity, food can be grown without the use of pesticides or genetic modification, biodiversity and wildlife can be encouraged through companion planting, one can grow food without contributing to air miles, the food tastes better than anything bought from a supermarket, the food is fresher, one will know how it is grown, it can be an act that deflates the power of the supermarket through autonomy, but does not support individuals who are in business as Growers. An Allotment site is a social space, in order to maintain an individual Plot and achieve vegetable self-sufficiency it takes planning and labour.

Allotment Plot 326 3/9/2010

The first visit to Plot 326 was the start of a new adventure. On entering the big iron gates a series of social interactions was initiated, including welcoming deposits of runner beans and over sized courgettes from various other Allotment Holders. Ella Montt’s Plot was at the furthest end of the field site. A timely reminder was noted that panniers would be needed on the bike for transporting various items both to and from the Plot. With assistance from a map of the Allotment space and another Allotment Holder the Plot‘s position was defined. A survey of the new Plot discovered that it was cultivated in a small percentage area by the previous tenant, but the majority of the Plot space was covered in weed plants with bountiful seed heads and brambles.

An Apple Tree is at one end of the Plot. The tree is over grown and in need of pruning with some of its boughs trailing onto the floor. When the tree was flowering in Spring it must have been covered in blossom, because now it is covered in Apples, which unfortunately, because of it being over grown and over capacity, means a lot of the Apples are being wasted on the ground. Some of the fruits have since been gathered but as yet it is too early for them to be ripe and because they are eating apples they are not fluffy when they are cooked, but they are usable for cooking. It was reported from the Allotment Holder at 328A that last year there was only one Apple on the tree and in October it was very tasty.

Apple Tree on the Allotment

Working on the Allotment Plot has revealed the soil seems good, but the Plot is known to flood in the winter. Gradually the Plot will be dug over, a choice was made not to rotovate it, because although rotovation would break up the soil quickly it would turn the seed heads and brambles under the soil, which will create even more work at a later date. The next few weeks will see more space clearing when time allows in preparation for over wintering vegetables and fruit planting.

Allotment 06/09/2010

The Shade of the Mulberry Tree

At The Allotment Plot at MERL on 2nd September 2010, even though the day had started off with a chill in the air, the sunshine was once again hot and bright. Last week there had been substantial rain, but the soil was already drying out. The Plot‘s growth was gradual. There were no dramatic changes. The reality of plant growth on an allotment is part of nature that humans seek to control through the act of cultivation. Ella Montt surveyed the Plot and then sat in the shade of the Mulberry tree, avoiding the direct rays of the blazing sun. Cultivation can be a fine art; the reality of nature can be an organic wonder of unpredictable magnitude.

Allotment 2/9/10

There is minimal harvesting to do, because the produce needs to grow more. The Squashes are disappointing in their lack of development. Ella Montt will need to work on the fertility of the soil through composting and the planting of more green manures over the autumn and winter months. Squashes can thrive well if grown on compost heaps. Cosmos Cosmea‘s is beginning to unfold its pink petals to create beauty within the Plot. The Beans are reaching for the sky!

Allotment Plot 02/09/2010

Harvest commenced: French Climbing Beans Blue Lake = 8oz = 220grams and Blauhide = 2oz = 40grams; Runner Beans = 2oz = 40grams; Tomatoes = 7oz = 200grams; Carrots Amsterdam Forcing 2.5oz = 60grams; 2 Dwarf Beans Royalty.

Beans reaching for the sky

MERL Allotment and Plot 326

At the Allotment Plot on 27th August 2010, after a few days of consistent rain, Ella Montt observed that the Climbing Beans had not yet taken full advantage of the horizontal bamboo canes that were erected on a previous visit. The Beans continued to reach for the sky in the style of a Jack and the Beanstalk action. The Fenugreek seeds have sprouted and are growing.

Beans Reaching for the Sky

Fenugreek Seedlings

The day was a historic for Ella Montt in terms of the Allotment Plot and Allotment history. A new part of the Plot revealed itself. Earlier in the week, an electronic notification in the form of email had declared to Ella Montt that Allotment Plot tenancy was imminent at one of Reading town’s Allotment sites. On the 27th August before arriving at the Plot at MERL the tenancy agreement had arrived in the mail, along with the new Allotment key for Plot 326. At the time of signing up to the Allotment waiting list in November 2009, there were at least 38 individuals on the list for this particular Allotment site; in early August the numbers on that list for that site had risen to 75. The numeric nature of the list suggests that Allotment holders come and go, some have the same plot for years, others are in transit and the Allotment is a fleeting part of their reality. Allotment history is written into the tenancy agreement the dates of Acts passed in 1908 and 1950 it seems are still relevant today. The Allotment Plot and the work of Ella Montt will expand to work both the MERL Allotment and Plot 326.

Ella Montt adjusts the focus of the Plot to examine the growing activity on the Plot at MERL. Small Sweetcorn ears are forming. The Pepper plant looks like it was a one Pepper wonder, the weather conditions are defeating the plant, it is perhaps to cool now at night to allow the plant to flourish and produce more flowers for fertilization, the Aubergine is also not succeeding to produce fruit even though it flowered a few weeks a go. All other vegetable plants are achieving produce, but not at an accelerated rate. A surprise Cucumber is discovered. Cucumbers can be a resilient and pro active in their growing procedures. A Blue Lake Climbing Bean has decided to grow using a Sunflower as a physical support. Beneficial insects are actively enjoying the Pot Marigolds and the Sunflowers.

Pot Marigold and Insect Sunflower and Insects

Harvesting commenced: French Climbing Beans Blue Lake 14oz = 400grams; Blauhide = 3oz = 90grams; Rainbow Chard = 2oz = 60grams; Tomatoes = 13oz = 370grams; Courgette 1.5oz = 40grams; Kale Pentland Brig 1.5oz = 40grams; Pot Marigold seeds = 1oz = 20grams.