Monthly Archives: October 2011

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.

Lawn Mower, Atlas, a Dead Bee, and Plant Regeneration

20th September 2011 – Allotment Plot 326 – Harvest: Oriental Greens Tai Sai = 2oz = 50g; 1 x Courgette Patriot F1 = 12oz = 350g; 1 x Squash Green Hokkaido = 6oz = 170g; 1 x Squash Green Hokkaido = 13oz = 370g; 1 x Squash Green Hokkaido = 1lb 2oz = 510g; 1 x Squash = 1 x Squash Red (Uchiki) Kuri = 10.5oz = 300g; 1 x Squash Red (Uchiki) Kuri = 10oz = 290g; a mix of Beans (Climbing and Runner) = 7.5oz = 210g.

22nd September 2011 – Allotment Plot at MERL – The sound of a lawn mower machine erupted close to the Plot. The driver drove the small tractor like object around in circles. The grass did not look like it needed to be cut, but the driver was programmed to automatically follow instructions from a higher level even if this meant abandoning an initiative to abort the cut grass operation if the grass was deemed not long enough to warrant cutting. On the radio* that morning there had been a conversation about the size of the ice sheet at Greenland as represented in a new atlas (The Times Atlas). This discourse it seemed had been happening in the media for several days. The concern was whether or not the ice sheet was depicted accurately or inaccurately in the new edition of the atlas. It was felt that demise of the ice was over exaggerated, but at the same time the depletion of ice and snow was a cause for alarm, an ecological change and evidence of the Hyperobject, global warming. Whether or not the atlas is accurate or not, Greenland is becoming more green, and less white. The obsession with the grass lawn as an object that needs to be trimmed on a regular basis contributes to the hyperobject, (along with a high proportion of other human activities), which results in the depletion of the ice and snow on Greenland and the rise in sea levels.

Ella Montt shifted her gaze away from the mower and searched the garden for any signs of the Chaffinch or Greenfinch birds, but there was none immediately to be found. These two taxonomic groupings of birds are in serious decline due to an outbreak of trichomonosis parasite in birds since 2005**. It would be safer for these birds to feed from seeds growing in the garden, rather than from a communal bird feeder, so Ella Montt prepared to leave many of the Companion Planting seeds as part of the Plot and a source of food for the birds as “naturally” occurring bird food as opposed to bird feed that had been placed in a feeder for the birds, where parasites can multiply and spread the disease.

(* & ** BBC Radio 4 Today program)

When the mower machine was gone Ella Montt found a dead bee lying on the grass next to the Plot. The time of this particular bee’s death was unknown and the reason of death also unknown. The bee was not squashed or mangled, but it was dead. Ella Montt removed the bee corpse to the Brick Composter to prepare for the bee’s body’s decomposition. The Carrot crop was harvested. The crop was a dismal failure. Another female flower was appearing on the healthy Squash Plant.

Harvest: Companion Planting seeds, Chamomile, Calendula Pot Marigold, Cosmos Cosmea and Sunflower = 1oz = 20g; Tomatoes = 1lb 4oz = 560g; Rainbow Chard = 2oz = 50g; Carrots = 3oz 90g; Beans (Runner) Enorma = 11oz = 320g; Beans (French Climbing) Blauhide = 2oz = 50g; Neckarqueen and Blue Lake 6oz = 175g.

29th September 2011 – Allotment Plot at MERL – The day after the Cultivation Field Postgraduate Symposium, Ella Montt sat resting in the shade of the Mulberry Tree. The weather had become warm again and was about to reach record breaking temperatures in the UK for the time of year. The sunshine and warmth was without a doubt universally beautiful to human beings (even Kant agreed). The plants that had begun to decline and fade with the Autumnal downward spiral towards death also appreciated the warm weather and started a burst of new vigor and unexpected growth. The Sun was prolonging the growing season. The danger of frost was temporarily halted, but will resume again later. It seemed a long time since the warm weather in April and summer had been rather cold. There appeared to be two Squashes growing on the most healthy Squash plant, and a fourth female flower developing, but the plant growth would need to accelerate in order to reach fruition (the first female flower did not bear fruit). Ella Montt was gazing in to her Crystal Ball and although the reading was hazy, she had a strong sense that there will be early snow in November, but this could be just residue of a memory left in the Crystal Ball from last year.

Harvesting was about to commence. The Barlotta Di Fuoco Beans were left to mature in to more substantial Beans. The Celery was also left to continue its growth. There were some unexpected happenings on the Plot, because of the warmth of the Sun that was allowing the plant growth regeneration. A Sunflower plant was flowering prolifically with multiple blooms.

Harvest: Companion Planting Seeds, self-seeded Nigella, Calendula Pot Marigold, Cosmos Cosmea = 1oz = 20g; Tomatoes = 6oz = 170g; Beans (Runner) Enorma = 1lb 2.5oz = 525g; Beans (French Climbing) Blauhide 1.5oz = 45g, Neckarqueen = 2oz = 60g.

30th September 2011 – Allotment Plot 326 – The warm weather was continuing. Harvest: Perpetual Spinach = 4.5oz = 135g; Kale Red Russian Curled = 1.5oz = 45g; Oriental Greens Tai Sai = 4oz = 110g; Chard = 4.5oz = 130g; Beans (Runner) Enorma = 10oz = 280g; Beans (French Climbing) Neckarqueen = 9oz = 250g, Blauhide = 1oz = 25g; Beans (French Dwarf) Royalty = 1oz = 25g; 1 x Courgette Patriot F1 = 12oz = 340g; 1 x Squash Blue Kuri = 1lb 13oz = 820g; 1 x Squash Green Hokkaido = 1lb 12oz = 790g.

The Oak Tree seedlings continued to grow in pots.

2nd October 2011 – Allotment Plot 326 – The warm weather still continued. Harvest: 1 x Pumpkin Cinderella = 5lb 9.5oz = 2.55Kg; 1 x Squash Turks Turban = 5lb 15oz = 2.7Kg; 1 x Squash Blue Kuri = 2lb 7oz = 1.11Kg; 1 x Courgette Patriot F1 = 4oz = 100g; 1 x Cucumber Tanja = 11oz = 310g.