Tag Archives: Growing

Planting Harvesting Drought Rain

25th May 2011 – At Allotment Plot 326, the first Garlic harvest of the year (2011) happened, (more to follow).  Garlic Harvest = 5oz = 120g.

Plants were transplanted from the fixed up greenhouse to Plot 326. Plants were: Tomato Gardeners Delight x 18; Courgette Patriot F1 x 2 and Cocozelle x 2; Beans (French Dwarf) Royalty x 6; Climbing Beans Barlotta Di Fuoco x 5; Squash Buttercup x 3, Green Hokkaido x 3, Marina Di Chioggia x 3, and (Pumpkin) Cinderella x 2.

Drought continues.

Thursday 26th May 2011 – and as if by magic there was a sudden rain shower! Ella Montt, who had been holding her breath (metaphorically speaking), wondered whom it was that had done the rain dance? She thought perhaps the action had been done in a more easterly direction, because she had heard on the previous day that the wheat growth was small and the plum trees leaves were turning brown and falling. Who had done the rain dance, was it Bob? Or could the dance have been more local? Tolly perhaps? The lack of rain was causing havoc with the growing process, if it did rain, the ground was so dry, the moisture barely touched the soil before the wind blew and any dampness evaporated. This happening was too quick for the rain to do any good within the vegetable creation system.

Ella Montt stood in the shed preparing to go out and get wet in MERL’s garden where she would examine the Plot. Ella Montt exited the shed and walked towards the Plot. The Climbing Beans that had already been planted were not looking very healthy. The weather conditions although excellent for general human well being were not allowing the Climbing Beans as yet to achieve healthy growth. Some of the Climbing Beans looked like they were suffering from frost bite or the drought. The day light hours were for sometime now were normally warm and sunny, but at night the temperature was dipping down low. The spring almost felt like summer so in actuality summer was early which meant that some plant growth was premature. Last year it had been cold for a very long time and plant growth was late. This year was the reverse, but neither year seemed an ideal state to stimulate stability in vegetable materiality.

Ella Montt restructured some of the Plot. Peas were supported, weeds and some green manure were removed to the Brick Composter. More Sweet Corn seeds were planted to fill in the row. Six more of each of the beans were planted, French Bean (Climbing) Barlotto Lingua Di Fuoco, Blauhide, Blue Lake, and Neckarqueen and Runner Bean Enorma.

Harvest commenced at Allotment Plot at MERL: Peas Meteor 3oz = 80g; Broad Beans 6oz = 160g.

31st May 2011 – Harvest at Allotment Plot 326

Broad Beans 1lb 8oz = 780g; Spinach 10oz = 300g.

June 2nd 2011 – Ella Montt acquired some giant canes of Bamboo; this reality was part of a reoccurring dream state that Ella Montt had lived in for more than a year. How to incorporate the giant Bamboo in to the Plot was a different matter that involved shifting and negotiation. Meanwhile the Bamboo was suspended in the holding area bubble just outside the Plot.

At Allotment Plot at MERL Ella Montt redefined and neatened the edges of the Plot, placing all grass trimmings and plant residue in to the Brick Composter.

The Climbing Beans were still not growing healthily, Lady Eve leaned out of the Reading Room window and projected across the garden a reminder to Ella Montt and to anyone else who was tuned in to the frequency that it was still early in the growing season and not the height of summer! The Peas on the other hand were in physical state of flowering. Some of the Squash were starting to appear established in their positions on the Plot. Watering of the Plot was intensive, after the rain shower of last week drought had continued. Any rain that fell evaporated soon after it touched the soil leaving no evidence that it had fallen in the first place. Ella Montt gazed in to her crystal ball searching for signs of rain, but saw no rain was in the predicted forecast for the next ten days.

Harvest: Broad Beans = 8oz = 250g.

June 3rd 2011 – Allotment Plot 326

Transplant: Sunflower Jerusalem Gold F1 x 5; Artichoke Arad x 2; French Bean (Climbing) Barlotto Lingua Di Fuoco x 12, Blauhide x 14, Blue Lake x 9 and Neckarqueen x 9, Runner Bean Enorma x 6; Squash Fictor F1 x 3 and Red Turban x 3; Cucumber Tanja x 1 and Marketmore x 1; Melon Sivan F1 x 1.

Harvest: Blackcurrants Sarek (1st harvest from bush planted in January) = 2oz = 40g. Broad Beans = 2lb 2oz = 980g.

June 4th 2011 – Ella Montt interfered with plant growth at Allotment Plot at MERL during MERL’s Fete, which was a social event. Ella Montt dug up excessive companion planting self-seeded Pot Marigold seedlings and fractured some of the Mint Rhizomes, removing these Mint roots from the Plot. The ecosystem of the Plot was only mildly adjusted. Ella Montt handed these plants to participants to plant in their own Plots in whatever form that might be, a number of plants were donated to a local Guerrilla Gardening project.

On June 5th 2011 it rained steadily through the night.

Sun Drought Frost Rain

18th April 2011 – In the studio the rooting Sweet Potato was observed sitting in its glass jam jar of water on the table in front of the window. The Sweet Potato was absorbing the sun light. A tiny dark reddish/ purple leafy sprout (slip) had emerged from the tuber. Ella Montt stared at the Sweet Potato, it was the first time she had witnessed so close the emergence of life from a Sweet Potato tuber. The root formations were of interest and also the initial growth of the leaf bud which will lead at a later stage to the vine structure.

Later in the day, at Allotment Plot 326 an area was cleared of sticks and branches that had been cut from the original Apple Tree and lain on the ground for sometime, (the original Apple Tree existed on the Plot when possession was granted last August). This area of the Plot had been used by the previous tenant and was some how despite the drought still workable with the assistance of the fork and spade tools.

19th April – Water was applied with a watering can to Allotment Plot 326’s planted areas. Drought was still in occupation. Ella Montt planted five rows of Peas in the soil that she had been able to dig on the previous day. The Peas were the same types of seeds that were planted at Allotment Plot at MERL on 24th March; Pea Kelvedon Wonder, Pea Ambassador, Pea (Edible Podded) Ezetha’s Krombek Blauschokker, and Pea (Mange-tout) Oregon Sugar Pod. Ella Montt then pushed some of the Apple Tree sticks into the soil next to each row of Peas. The strategy of utilizing the sticks was to exploit a two-fold defense mechanism, potentially the first fold being an attempt to prevent Magpies and other wildlife from eating the Pea seeds and secondly to act as supports for the Pea plants as they grow. (Pea plants have tendrils that reach out to attach themselves to a supporting medium). A barrier net fence will also be needed to deter wandering wildlife from eating the plants.

26th April – Ella Montt erected a net fence around the area planted with Peas at Allotment Plot 326. Then water was applied to all planted areas of the Plot. Drought conditions persisted. Weeds were cut to decrease their power.

27th April – Cardboard that had been covering an area of Allotment Plot 326 was removed and placed close by on another area of the plot to assist in weed control. The uncovered area of soil was dug over. Seeds were then planted; these were Scorsonère Géante Noire De Russie, Leek Blue Green Winter and Kale Halbholter Grun Krauser. Once more water was applied to the planted areas of the Plot. The ground was forming cracks as moisture continued to evaporate and evade the soil. The lack of rain was becoming desperate. A sense of the Sahara spreading, edging nearer, drifted across the sky.

28th April – Allotment Plot at MERL had not been visited for two weeks, because of Spring time feasting. Ella Montt noted that certain vegetables plants had grown, but others had failed as yet to germinate. The green manure seeds Phacelia Tanacetifolia that had been planted last Autumn were now taking a positive hold in the Plot. Phacelia should be dug in with some plants left to attract bees, but Ella Montt decided to leave all the plants to flower (for now). The Garlic on the Plot had not as yet grown to be as big as the Garlic on Allotment Plot 326.

Ella Montt had brought Sunflower and Cosmos seedlings to the Plot. These seedlings that had been growing in the fixed up greenhouse at another location were becoming to tall and needed to be planted out. With intrepidation Ella Montt chipped away at the concreted soil to break holes for the seedlings to root themselves into the ground. The seedlings were then planted and watered as they connected to the earth. Two Globe Artichoke plants were also planted out. Seedlings planted; 5 Cosmos Cosmea, 19 assorted Sunflowers, 2 Artichokes = 1 x Arad and 1 x Imperial Star. Will they survive the drought?

It was still April and Ella Montt pondered the dangers of frost and other extreme weather conditions including the aforementioned drought. The Kale and Chard seeds had so far failed to germinate. Both the months of March and April had been exceptionally dry. The Sahara Dessert was spreading closer.

There was evidence of slug or snail damage on some of the plants, which seemed strange considering how dry the soil was. Perhaps the Brick Composter harboured these creatures. There appeared to be no bird damage affecting the plants. water was applied by watering can to the Plot. Both Carrot and Parsnip seeds were germinating.

Ella Montt left Allotment Plot at MERL and cycled to the studio. The Sweet Potato was continuing to grow roots and shoots (slips).

2nd May – Brassica seeds were planted in the fixed up greenhouse. The weather was playing havoc with Ella Montt’s timing of the cultivation process. Meanwhile the Squash and Bean plants were growing well, and waiting to be transplanted.

Ella Montt went to dig at Allotment Plot 326. Digging there was a never ending task and will be on going. The Potatoes foliage growth had accelerated. The ground was cracking with the lack of rain. Ella Montt dug an area that had been covered by cardboard and then planted some Cauliflower Snowball seeds, and also some Parsnip Halblange White, and Kohl Rabi Azur Star. It was hard to judge given the current weather conditions whether or not planting these seeds was a waste of time, but only the course of time will reveal this information. The sun continued to shine. The weather was for most humans, (apart from perhaps farmers, growers and firefighters) beautiful. The Garlic continued to thrust its foliage towards the sky.

5th May – At Allotment Plot at MERL there was no evidence of frost damage, although the temperature had dropped the previous night and the night before. There had been a frost warning for rural areas. However the Sunflower seedlings that had been planted last week looked dead, because they had received no moisture since the day they were planted out. Ella Montt soaked the Plot with water in the hope to revive the Sunflowers. She then erected a fifth bamboo pyramid. Then five types of Bean plants from the fixed up greenhouse were transplanted into the ground. The Bean plants were; French Bean (Climbing) Barlotto Lingua di Fuoco, Blauhide, Blue Lake, and Neckarqueen, and Runner Bean Enorma.

Saved Squash seeds were placed into the soil within the Brick Composter as an experiment in the field of germination. The Comfrey plant that had planted on the 14th April was still in its place as part of the Plot, but it had been eaten by slime creatures. Comfrey as a plant has exceptional growth capacity and can be harvested several times at least a year, but creatures also find it a good food source. Allotment Plot 326 has revealed several Comfrey plants already established as part of that Plot.

6th May – The Sweet Potato continues to transform its self, whilst a Comfrey cutting, taken from The Herb Garden (Kate Corder, 2006), generates new growth.

9th May – There was some relief for the plants as it rained at night on the 6th and 7th May ending the drought! A visit to Allotment Plot 326 revealed that frost had inflicted its cruel pain last week on the 3rd or 4th of May. Plot 326 is on higher ground than Allotment Plot at MERL and exists in a more rural area, which is where the weather person had indicated that frost might fall, and it had. Luckily only the foliage of the Potato plants were damaged and not the core plant. The Potato foliage should be able to regenerate, because the frost was not severe. The Peas somehow were unaffected and growing steadily.

Ella Montt had become aware that a campaign against government interference with Allotment History was being fought across the land. It had been revealed of late that government is seeking to destroy and condem Section 23 of the Allotments Act of 1908, which binds local councils to provide land for allotments if more than six humans desire Allotments in a local area. Ella Montt, Captain Swing, Thorpe and William Morris were most displeased by the governments reckless behaviour.

A council worker operated a large green tractor in the plot next to 326, the vehicle was tuned to remove the rampant wildness that had taken over this particular plot, as a result of an allotment holder’s failed utopian dream. The previous allotment holder worked long hours and had to give up their plot so the plot will soon belong to the next person on the extensive waiting list. Ella Montt watched the tractor turn the soil and narrowly miss the Cherry Tree.

After more digging in an area that had been covered by newspaper and compost Ella Montt planted some seeds; Broccoli Purple Sprouting Early, Calabrese Green Sprouting, Brussels Sprouts Darkmar 21, and Cabbage Marner Lagerweiss. External forces will decide if these seeds will grow into vibrant green vital matter.

A New Allotment Site and The Plot

12 August 2010 – Two weeks had passed since the Ella Montt had visited the Allotment Plot. The Plot had not become chaotic, but was growing steadily. Ella Montt had visited a new Allotment site in rural South West England. The Allotment site had started cultivation in March this year after a village had decided to search out a field that could be converted into Allotment growing space. A village can have the advantage of negotiating new Allotment growing space from a landowner, if the village is in closer proximity to land as opposed to a city or town, however the negotiation always depends on the location of the village and the situation of the land, what it is already used for and who “owns” the land.

New Allotment Site

Back at Ella Montt’s growing Plot at MERL, there was more research to be done. Ella Montt kneels on the ground and carefully digs the earth to uncover any remains of the buried Sweet Potato. The disturbance of the earth reveals a hardened lump that is barely distinguishable as the original tuber, it would seem that it was still composting, but producing very fine shoots or roots in the process. However the roots could be in themselves part of decomposition, a breakdown of nutrients absorbing themselves into the soil. The remains of the Sweet Potato are gently recovered and will not be disturbed again, but the area will be monitored for any signs of shoot growth. The Sweet Potato experiment will resume at the start of the growing season in 2011 as mentioned previously.

The day’s weather is overcast; warm, but not overly so and somewhat humid. Ella Montt’s attention turns to other details of the Plot through an assessment of vegetation growth activity. Both Kales, Pentland Brig and Red Russian Curled, are not appreciating this summers weather conditions, harvesting of both will commence without further delay. The Aubergine Black Beauty has two flowers. One small Squash has formed on a plant, but all of the Squash plants are being slow to grow and not producing the needed female flowers in order to form Squashes. Squashes are a good source of food for the winter, because they can be stored. The Sweet Corn plants are starting to flower, but they are not tall enough to produce good ears. More Cosmos plants are growing.

Aubergine FlowersTomatoes

Harvesting commenced: Lettuce Marvel of the Four Seasons = 4oz = 100grams; Rainbow Chard = 4.5oz = 115grams; Kale Pentland Brig = 7.5oz = 200grams; Kale Red Russian Curled = 4oz = 110grams; 1 Runner Bean; 1 green Pepper = 1oz = 20grams; 1 Courgette Patriot F1 1oz = 20grams; 1 Courgette Soleil F1 = 7oz = 200grams; Dwarf Beans Royalty = 1oz = 20grams; 7 Tomatoes 2.5oz = 65grams; French Climbing Beans Blauhide = 6oz = 175grams and Blue Lake = 5oz = 145grams.

In an effort to work towards achieving vegetable growing self-sufficiency through the Plot some more seeds were planted close to Sweet Corn. Seeds planted were Oriental Saladini, Borecole Nero Di Toscana, and more Carrot Amsterdam Forcing.

Ella Montt sits next to Allotment Plot reading The Living Soil by author Eve Balfour. This book, first published in 1943 by Faber and Faber, was an informative research text that assisted in the initial formation of the Soil Association. An original copy of Lady Eve’s book sits across the garden in MERL’s reading library archive. Chapter III HUMUS is being read again today. Whilst reading, a woman and her child is silently observed removing seed heads from the prolific Pot Marigolds, she places the collected seeds in a paper bag. Earlier the woman had been seen to be amused by the Heavy Metal CD pigeon deterrents.

Pot Marigolds

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

Allotment Archives

On 03/06/2010 the Allotment Plot was experiencing another bright sunny day the temperature was significantly warm. The ground was desperately dry. Ella Montt who is the grower on this particular Allotment, sits next to the Plot and eats lunch in the shade of the Mulberry tree; the gaze drifts from the vegetable plot to cross the grass, resting on the Museum building, which houses the archives. The shelves of the Library within the Museum have many texts written about growing processes to be employed by growers. The contemplation of the books that contain texts is acted out on the Allotment Plot. Much is there within the archives to be discovered about the historic process of farming, land usage, plants, crops, the effects of industrialization and science.

Allotment history in the British Isles has slowly evolved and punctuates dates of social change. Before industrialized farming methods land to grow food was essential for individual and family survival, (as remains so now in many parts of the world). The medieval systems that was common through out Europe, enabled peasants, or the rural poor, to work portions of ground belonging to the Landowners in exchange for labouring for the landowner. The head of state of the particular country ultimately owned all land.

The enclosures acts, (formerly know as ‘Inclosure’) that started in Britain during the twelfth century, accelerated between the eighteenth and nineteenth century to gradually remove land access from the general population so that most workable land was owned by a limited number of people. Many cottagers or small holders lost their homes, because they could not retain their rights to their properties, poverty and famine followed. Common land that had been previously used by rural dwellers for fuel gathering and food cultivation, was lost. Landowners did not want the workers to have access to land to grow their own food because self-sufficiency meant that they would not need to work for the landowner. Because people no longer had ways to support themselves, there was a movement of the rural poor to the towns, here they were able to become workers in the factories. The rural moved to the urban, yet the urban needed the rural in order to cultivate food. Allotment Acts were passed to insure growing land for the poor working classes to try to provide land to supplement or give income through cultivation. Urban areas became ringed by allotments for the new town dwellers, but as the size of the urban area expanded more of the rural allotment landscape disappeared as it was built on through the advance of capitalism. In the twentieth century what was land allotted originally to the labouring poor has since become allotments for a wide demographic. This was the result of the social changes of the First World War and the depression that followed. Allotment land was needed to grow food and cultivated by everyone not just the poor and unemployed.

Now housing can be built with out access to growing space in both urban and rural areas. The desire to have an Allotment is a common right and of individual free will. Obtaining an Allotment can be a different story; because land is still limited by land ownership and local authority Allotment waiting lists are often very long in any given area. Food self-sufficiency is hard to achieve without space, but human activity can be inventive if self grown food is desired. There are many inner city areas who have growing groups that use all kinds of space to plant whatever they are able to. Many individuals grow using window boxes and balconies. Previously Ella Montt had some experience of growing herbs in window boxes of a 5th floor apartment in New York.

Ella Montt’s thoughts returned to the Allotment Plot and the working activity of this particular grower. An assessment of what is growing on the Plot is recorded. Many of the plants seem to be small in size, because of the lack of rain. This includes the Parsley, and the Onion sets. The Sweetcorn seeds were starting to germinate; their tender shoots could easily be eaten.  The Red Kale was growing well, but petite in height. If rain falls the growth may be significant. Broadbeans and Peas were ready for harvesting. The squash plants had survived their first week on the Plot, they were wilting under the hot sun. Two dwarf beans seedlings were pushing up out of the soil. The Brassicas were trying to grow back and recover from their predator damage; the survival rate will be watched carefully. The Sprint Garlic continues to twist its’ Scapes. The Thermidrome Garlic’s growth is slower and is not yet twisting. Five sunflowers were growing; four from seeds planted directly into the soil and one a seedling that was grown in the fixed up greenhouse. The Tomatoes look yellow around their lower leaves, this could be an indication that they are already blighted, damaged by extreme temperatures of the weather. The mulberry tree provides shade from the hot sun.

The Rainbow Chard needs water to accelerate the growth of the plants. A line of seeds planted last week are appearing through the soil, the leaves have a purple tinge, so perhaps slugs may leave them alone, but pigeons may not be that discerning. The young Spinach is already going to seed, because of the dry weather. Carrots foliage was healthy and growing, but small as yet. The tiny leaves of the Beetroots are difficult to imagine growing substantial edible roots. The Parsnips continue to have excellent foliage and seem to hold great promise for the autumn and winter months. The Herbs planted last week have survived. The Companion Planting was not growing as expected, however the Chives and Chamomile were flowering.

Young plants that had been grown in the fixed up greenhouse were then planted. They were three new Squashes plants, squashed into the row of various Squashes. Two types of Climbing Bean seedlings, which were 5 x French Bean (Climbing) Blue Lake and 4 x French Bean (Climbing) Blauhide and finally one more Tomato plant. The bell was rung to announce the arrival to the Plot.

Squashes Squashed

Tomato Planted

The harvesting commenced. The harvest was as follows:

Broadbeans Supersimonia 18 pods = 13oz = 380grams. Shelled Broadbeans to be consumed = 4oz = 100grams.

Pea Meteor harvested 48 = 4oz = 120grams. Shelled peas weight to be consumed = 2oz = 60grams.

The Peas were sampled and were found to be very sweet, tasty and perfect for raw consumption. The results from weighing the harvested vegetables indicate that the waste material accumulated is much higher for the Broadbeans. The Peas produced more produce from their pods. All the pod waste was returned to a compost bin to breakdown into new soil.

What maybe more efficient is the climbing and Dwarf Beans, because almost all of the bean can be eaten.

More water was applied via a watering can to the Plot.

Broadbeans & Onions

First Harvest, Weeding and Watering

The over wintered Spinach planted back in the Autumn has gone to seed. On 20/05/2010 the first harvest was cut, producing one bag of flowering Spinach weighing 10oz or 260 grams. The Spinach on the Plot will be left for a week or so to see if more can be harvested or if the plants need to be dug up to reclaim the area for further planting. Spinach Harvest

Weeding can be an intricate and time-consuming activity. Rows of wanted vegetable seedlings can grow surround by an assortment of unwanted weed plants. Weeds are generally unwanted plants growing in a cultivated area. In an organic vegetable growing situation hand weeding is a very important thing and the easiest way to get rid of the weeds. There is a big difference in green manures used to fertilize the soil for growing vegetables to unwanted weeds growing with the vegetables. Having too many weeds amongst the vegetables is generally not a good thing. Weeds compete for nutrients and moisture, they can also over run a plot. When it comes to harvesting, in the vegetable business world, weeds showing up amongst the crop are normally removed to appease the consumer. However there is a place for weeds in relation to the growing environment, unweeded areas that will not interfere with crops can also attract all kinds of biodiversity that can assist in the growing process. Stinging nettles are particularly useful. Many weeds may have all kinds of beneficial properties to the human diet, however some weeds can be harmful if digested or an irritant to the skin, identifying what plant properties are and knowledge is the key.

On the Allotment Plot removing the weeds from around the seedlings revealed the young and tender plants. The shield of protection that the weeds may have given to the seedlings will be observed on further visits to the Plot. The vegetable seedlings that emerged were Parsnips, Carrots, Beetroots, Chard, Leeks and Red Onions. A hesitation was apparent when it came to remove the weeds around the Brassica seedlings, which had already been damaged by hungry predators. The hesitation lasted about 22 hours and then on returning to the Plot the weeds were removed. If the Brassicas can survive is an unknown factor. The Kale Red Russian Curled seedlings and Lettuce Marvel of the Four Seasons are both naturally red pigmented and seem to be growing better perhaps for that reason, this suggests that it may not be pigeons that are feeding on the Brassicas, so perhaps slugs and snails could be the assailants.

After weeding activity, the Plot progresses to watering, in order to alleviate the drought conditions. Water was gathered into the watering can from the tap, carried to the Allotment Plot and poured onto the parched soil. At least six full watering cans were used in drought alleviation.

A triangle of bamboo canes was forced into the ground and tied with string to produce some stability. Near each bamboo cane was planted two organic French Bean (Climbing) Blauhide seeds and two French Bean (Climbing) Blue Lake seeds. A row of twelve Sweetcorn Golden Bantam seeds were planted near the over wintered Onion sets and a row of twelve French Bean (Dwarf) Royalty seeds was also planted. There is no sign as yet of the Wild Rocket seedlings, the Lettuce Lollo Rosso or the White Lisbon Spring Onions.

Carrot Beetroot & Parsnips

Watered 2

Watered 1

Planting and Weeding

Planting Performance (4) occurred on 13/05/2010. The weather conditions were warm and sunny. For several days prior to the Planting event, it had looked like it may rain, the previous evening dark storm clouds had gathered, but no rain fell. Temperatures were dipping down at night causing frost damage to some plants, but luckily not on the Allotment Plot.

The state of the Plot reports as follows; the Broadbeans had almost finished flowering, the dying flowers that have turned black, will form their bean pods over the next few weeks. The Peas, now very much recovered from the cold winter, are flowering so the first Pea pods will arrive soon. The garlic continues to grow as does the onion sets, although the Garlic has always seemed to be growing far more rapidly than the Onions. The over wintered Spinach that was supposed to provide food through out the winter, is now going to seed and the leaves are still small.

The Brassicas have been attacked and eaten by predators, possibly pigeons, leaving the skeletal frames of the seedlings. Will the Brassicas recover or are they doomed to crop failure? Is this high or low drama on the Plot? What may seem comparatively insignificant in the scheme of the Plot, could in months to come, when the greens are most needed for nutritional requirements, mean that there is a substantial deficit in food production, producing a hungry gap that should not be there at that time. Covering the Brassicas may assist in their recovery, but it may not, because the damage could be too great. The situation will be carefully monitored.


Planted at the Plot on that day in honour of Guerrilla Gardeners everywhere was a sunflower seeding and sunflower seeds. Weeding then prevailed. Using a hoe and also by hand many weeds were removed from the plot. Weeding will be an on going activity on the Plot.

Is the viewer aware that this Allotment Plot is a live Art situation? It is an on going event that can be visited in Museum opening times. The Plot is growing its own aesthetic. Ella Montt will not always be there, but the Allotment Plot is. Does this particular Plot differ from the two other vegetable plots in the garden and what makes it Art? Weeding 1

Weeding 2

Tolhurst Stockfree Organic Vegetables – March 2007 to February 2008

Kate Corder’s film Tolhurst Stockfree Organic Vegetables – March 2007 to February 2008 is currently on view at the Museum of English Rural Life until July 16th 2010. The film documents the growing seasons and biodiversity of the Tolhurst vegetable business over a twelve month period. Running time 124mins.  MERL’s opening hours are:

  • 9am to 5pm, Tuesday to Friday
  • 2pm to 4.30pm, Saturday and Sunday Tolhurst Film Flyer

Report from the Fixed-Up Greenhouse

Report from the Fixed-Up Greenhouse is as follows:

Tomato plants that were planted in January are not looking good. Suffering cold and frost damage, some have died. The plants that are ‘alive’ look already blighted. More seeds were planted as replacements.

Tomato Zuckerman 13 plants alive. Total of replacement seeds planted = 6.

Tomato Chadwick 7 plants alive. Total of replacement seeds planted = 10.

Tomato Gardeners Delight 4 plants alive. Total of replacement seeds planted = 6.

Planting early tomatoes has not produced the expected result, which was to be ahead in the growing year. The actual plant growth is very disappointing, the conditions were not right. Tomatoes need unfailing warmth in order to survive and flourish. Sudden dips in temperature to below freezing are catastrophic for the tomatoes structure.

In contrast the Peppers, Aubergines, and companion planting, Pot Marigolds, Cosmos, Sweet Peas, and Nasturtiums are doing well, although still small in early development stages of growth, but looking healthy.

Tomatoes Not Looking GoodCosmos

Rhizome and the Plot

The Allotment Plot’s specificity is plant life growing at a Place which contains the Plot. The Place and its multiplicity is fold and refolded. The plant life’s roots and radicles are growing around the groundwork of the Plot. The Art Practice is wrapped with roots that radiate and shoot. All plant life being in its specificity not entirely rhizomatic.

Plot Febrauryallotment46Tiny Pepper PlantsTomato Growing

“A rhizome as subterranean stem is absolutely different from roots and radicles. Bulbs and tubers are rhizomes. Plants with roots or radicles may be rhizomorphic in other respects altogether: the question is whether plant life in its specificity is not entirely rhizomatic.” (Deleuze & Guattari – A Thousand Plateaus).