Tag Archives: Event


11th May 2011 – In the studio, the cultivation of Comfrey and Sweet Potato plants in glass jars continues. The Sweet Potato’s rhizomatic roots were accumulating in to an amazing mass at one end of the tuber, whilst at the other end of the tuber the vine leaves also sprouted. Soon it will be time to plant the Sweet Potato in to soil. Sweet Potatoes can take from four to six months to develop a substantial vine and tubers in the UK climate. Bob Flowerdew recommends growing the vine vertically in order to save energy and space. A vine that spreads in all directions horizontally across the Plot appeals to Ella Montt, but she will endeavor to grow the Sweet Potato in both formats, horizontally and vertically as part of the Plot. Back at the fixed up greenhouse in another location, other Sweet Potatoes are preparing themselves for this particular experiment. Three more tubers were sitting in glass jars of water, starting to grow roots and a fourth was discovered developing life-like veins in the draw of the refrigerator. The veins suggested that the Sweet Potato was about to mutate in to a vibrant new life form. On 16th May, a shift occurred, the four Sweet Potatoes were transplanted to soil in separate pots in the fixed up greenhouse to continue their process of cultivation. On the 17th May the rooting Comfrey and Sweet Potato were removed from the studio, they journeyed  (in a bicycle pannier) to Allotment Plot 326 and then made another journey to a waiting area in anticipation of their next move.

On Friday 13th May, having gazed in to her crystal ball for what seemed like an eternity, Ella Montt chose to see the day as auspicious rather than ominous and carefully selected plants from the fixed up greenhouse to be transplanted in to new growing positions. The view in the crystal ball that held the uncertain answers to the weather conditions seemed changeable and still cloudy. Ella Montt remained unconvinced that the chance of frost was unlikely, but as it was approaching mid May the risk in planting out frost tender plants was diminishing and so a chance that there would be no or minimal frost damage should be taken. Freak weather occurrences can occur from time to time, snow in May, hail in June, but the crystal ball did not contain that kind of information.

Ella Montt arrived at Allotment Plot at MERL and examined the Plot. The first Comfrey plant had been partially eaten probably by slugs or snails. At least six of the Sunflower plants and three of the Cosmos plants had revived and survived the drought conditions. The Plot was now dominated by the flowering green manure plant Phacelia Tanacetifoli, which was attracting several different types of bees. William Morris arrived at the Plot he had stopped to rest from rowing his boat upriver to Nowhere on the Thames in search of some early haymaking activity. After starring at the Plot intently WM asked Ella Montt if she may design a wall paper for his collection. Then he wrapped himself in his carpet and fell in to a slumber underneath the Mulberry Tree.

Ella Montt had to remove some of the plant material Phacelia Tanacetifolia, because it was obstructing the light from the Broad Beans and also the amount of Bee activity was making it difficult to work around the Plot. (The Broad Beans are nearly ready for their first harvest). The discarded plant material was placed in the Brick Composter to decompose in to a different kind of vital matter. Plenty of flowering plants were left for the Bees to continue their processes. Ella Montt fetched the watering can from the shed and watered the Plot. Although it had rained on the 6th and 7th of May drought was still persistent. Ella Montt spun around and transformed her work wear and identity, (see video evidence). The identity of an allotment holder is no longer predictable.

The Peas could be seen growing through the netting, some plants reached out their tendrils to catch on to the net for support. A snail was found on a Pea plant. The snail was removed from the Plot to the other side of the garden and placed in the wild area.

Packets of salad seeds were opened and a mixture of varieties were combined and then scattered in a row between the Onions and Lady Eve’s Potatoes. The seeds were: Oriental Giant Red Mustard, Mizuna, and Tokyo Bekana, Rocket Wild and Rucola, Lettuce  Lollo Rosso, Brun d’hiver, Marvel of the Four Seasons, (Red) Roxy and Solix.

Ella Montt then planted 9 Sweetcorn True Gold seedlings to one side of a row of Broad Beans and added 3 more Climbing Bean plants to each of the 4 Climbing Bean bamboo pyramids (the 5th pyramid has Dwarf Beans planted next to it). The ground was then prepared amongst the Garlic for planting Squash and Courgette plants. One of each of the following plants were planted: Squash Big Max, Black Futsu, Buttercup, (Pumpkin) Cinderella, Fictor F1, Green Hokkaido, (Pumpkin) Jack O’Lantern, Marina Di Chioggia, Musquee de Provence, and Uchiki Kuri, Courgette Patriot F1 and two Courgette Cocozelle.

It was a cloudy day without much sun, rain levels for the time of year were still exceptionally low. The earth is very dry under its surface.

At Allotment Plot 326 bags of Spinach are being harvested on a regular basis. Two bags were harvested on the 16th May: 1 x 1lb = 420g and 1 x 1lb 2oz = 460g. This has been an ongoing event for the last 4 weeks.

Swing's Riot

It was the 9th December 2010; last week there had been widespread frost and snow. Reading had only experienced a light icy covering of snow, but frosty temperatures had been persistent all week. Ella Montt walked into the garden at MERL. She had arranged to meet Captain Swing there; he was waiting for her by the Allotment Plot. Ella walked over to Swing and began to discuss events that were unfolding in London that day. It was a day of protest by students, under 18’s and sympathizers, because the government was debating then voting on raising University tuition fees. Ella, who is also a student felt most concerned about the outcomes of the day. Her anger spilled over as she talked to Swing, who was most sympathetic. William Morris who had been sleeping in a pile of leaves under the Mulberry Tree awoke from his slumber at the sounds of conversation. He rolled over, rubbed his eyes, blinked and got up, shaking the damp leaves from his old coat, he asked if there was any news from nowhere, muttering something about a dung market.

Ella examined her vegetables growing on the Plot; the new seedling growth had slowed considerably, because of the freezing temperatures. She lifted the horticultural fleece and peered at the Brussel Sprouts discovering that the foliage was looking more encouraging than before, yet there were still no sprouts. Ella was pleased because the leafy tops of Sprouts can be eaten; they are tender and sweet. She took a small garden fork from her backpack and then dug a handful of Leeks with it. After cleaning some of the mud and roots from the leeks into the compost area, she packed the items back into her transportation device.Garlic 09/12/2010

William Morris and Swing had been talking together. They now turned to Ella and suggested to her that they travel to London to join in the student’s protest. Ella who had been on a local march the previous day was keen for more action. William Morris took from his coat a roll of beautifully designed and well-crafted wallpaper; he unrolled it. Ella remarked that Kant would probably like the wallpaper for his study. The three discussed for a few moments whether to go directly to the National Gallery to join the Slade Teach-in or if to teleport straight to Parliament Square. Choosing the latter they stepped onto the wallpaper and whoosh suddenly they were there!

Morris, who is a seasoned time traveller, was the first to get his bearings. They had arrived in the middle of a big crowd of young people who were surrounded by police in riot gear. Ella remarked, “Oh no, we are kettled!” Morris said, “kettled? What on earth do you mean? In my day a kettle was something that one filled with water and placed on the stove to heat up, eventually depending on the heat of the stove, it reaches boiling point, bubbles over and you can make tea”. Ella replied that was right, and said, “but in current terminology kettling is a restriction of protesters through police activity that normally leads to violence, because the people who are kettled are trapped often for hours, and prevented from leaving. It is never a good thing!” Swing’s face was reddening, as his agitation grew, he had just seen a policemen hit a student. Swing, who was barely audible under the sounds of students booing, said, “riot! I predict a riot!” Morris, who was much calmer, said, “it becomes a dung market, you know, the Houses of Parliament, it has good access to the river, they have to stop the games they are playing there, and the whole people becomes our parliament. Let us go to National Gallery and join the Teach-in with the art students, I hear they are writing a manifesto.” Agreed the three stepped on to the length of patterned wallpaper and then arrived in Room 43. Neither the Teach-in, nor the protests were over yet.

Ella Montt’s harvest for 09/12/2010: Leek Almera = 5oz = 140g.

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

A Caterpillar

Why is the caterpillar on the broadbean plant at the allotment plot in February? Where has it grown from? Surely no butterfly has fluttered by and perched long enough to deliver eggs that have then grown over a week into a fat caterpillar? Or has the caterpillar overwintered on the broadbeans surviving the chill of winter, choosing not to turn into a crysalis or to evolve into a moth or butterfly? Was the caterpillar found by a passing bird that spied a worm so dropped the caterpillar into the broadbean leaf to cradle? The multiplicity of event occurs and mystery at the allotment plot.