Tag Archives: Heavy Metal

Bricks and Potatoes

Ella Montt was at Allotment Plot at MERL on 3 March. She had not visited this aspect of the Plot since January, because she had been occupied with other aspects elsewhere. The previous day there had been sun, but the day was bitterly cold, and the sky was grey. Ella Montt examined the state of the Allotment Plot, some of the bricks that formed the Brick Composter were out of position, chaotically fallen out of place. Last years remaining Brassicas were now stripped skeletons punctuating the Plot. The overwintered Broad Beans and Peas showed evidence of predator attack and the harshness of winter. Most of the Onions seemed to have survived. The Garlic was perhaps predictably looking the most productive of the overwintered vegetables.

It was time to remove weeds to the Composter, redefine the Plot and neaten the edges. Ella Montt collected gardening tools from the shed. Green Manure plants Phacelia that had been sown back in Autumn 2010 were left growing scattered across the Plot. A solitary Crocus was in bloom. Stinging Nettles seedlings existed within the Plot, but were transported to the Composter with the notion that they might establish themselves within its boundaries as a welcome addition in pest control. It was noted that Mint rhizomes were extending in different directions beyond their previous area. Further evidence of this activity will be carefully monitored.

The Brick Composter was already composed of 91 bricks so Ella Montt utilized a wheelbarrow to collect a further 29 bricks from an amount that sits stacked beside the shed. The additional bricks were piled to complete the Brick Composter, a total of 120 bricks, (the same number of bricks used by Carl Andre in Equivalent VIII).

The earthquake and tsunami in Japan on March 11th 2011, devastated and obliterated the lives of human and non human species. The water of the tsunami washed away towns, bodies, organised mechanics of the human condition, such as transport vehicles, (land or water-based), business, cultivated growth of plant life and the everyday aspect of life into non life. The shock of this realization turned into further panic due to the failing cooling systems of nuclear power plants that were affected by the power of the planet’s own vital energy system that had caused the catastrophe.

Some of the human species remained convinced that nuclear energy was essential to human ways of life on Earth, while others wished that the nuclear industry should be dismantled in favour of safer ecological systems to generate energy. Ella Montt had never liked the nuclear industry and was most concerned for those in Japan, those that had lost their lives and those that had survived, both had their lives altered in the time span of minuets or seconds as the ground shock and later as the waves swept over the land. Planet Earth is a living organism, but this can be forgotten. Everything returns to the materials of the planet from which it has animated. Atoms drift, form and flux in the atmosphere surrounding the astronomical object.

On March 17th 2011, six thousand miles away in Japan there was still a state of panic and emergency, because of the on going conditions at the nuclear power plants. (Nuclear power no thanks!) Thousands of lives were lost in the tsunami. Bodies had been washed out to sea or covered by the wreckage of the flood. The mess and mass of residue remains piled for miles along the coastline. Some of the coastline had dropped at the time of the earthquake which allowed the tsunami to then sweep further in land. The conditions of global warming v the conditions of catastrophe from nuclear energy, if the world is contaminated with radiation what good is it to anyone anyway? Energy systems can be established through other means that are more sustainable solutions and not built on fossil fuels or nuclear power.

Ella Montt mused on why humans need catastrophe in order to realize thought processes that enable change. Progress is often not a linear process. Science develops systems and systems can generate progress, but power can generate a system that is blind to the future. The future is hidden tread carefully.

The sun broke through the misty cloud haze. Ella Montt prepared to plant 15 Lady Balfour Main Crop seed Potatoes, EM adjusted the tripod and digital video camera. Eve Balfour stepped out of MERL’s library archive and walked across the garden to join Ella Montt at the Plot. EM handed EB a fork and EB started to prepare the soil. Ella Montt went to the shed to fetch a wheelbarrow and then pushed it up the path amongst the trees towards the garden’s composting area. EM shovelled some of last year’s compost in to the wheelbarrow and headed back down the wooded bank to EB. Together they carefully dug a row of eight holes and then Ella Montt placed a Potato in each earth cavity with the Potato Chits facing upwards. EB covered the Potatoes and added extra compost from the wheelbarrow making Mole Hill type mounds over each one. Ella Montt placed a seed label by each mound to mark the position. EB and EM then dug another row of seven holes and Ella Montt placed the last seven Potatoes in their respective holes. Bob Flowerdew had advised to dig holes as big as a saucepan and Ella Montt remembered this. A note was made to acquire Comfrey roots for the Plot. Comfrey is an excellent plant food for Potatoes, Tomatoes and compost. EM and EB shared Ella Montt’s thermos of plant-based tea whilst they discussed the Plot.

When EB went back to the rest in the library archive Ella Montt planted 4 x 3 sticks of dried Bamboo at each corner of the Plot in triangular formations. It was somewhat early in the year to be assembling Climbing Bean supports, but Ella Montt had decided that the Heavy Metal CDs needed to be reinstated to the Plot to try to ward of predators. Ella Montt attached the CDs with last years blue plastic string to the Bamboo supports. The Heavy Metal CDs will swing with the breeze and create a slight disturbance around the Plot that may interfere with pigeons feeding, but will not deter any slugs. Ella Montt then applied pieces of Fragile Handle With Care packaging tape that had been saved from an incoming package.

Ella Montt was in the studio, it was March 24th 2011, two days before another March in London against government spending cuts. This March was due to be as large as the Anti War March in 2003. Ella Montt hoped it would remain peaceful. What would be the point of violence breaking out between police and protestors when police are also being cut? The police should also be marching. Ella Montt was in no mood to pussyfoot around; she slipped off her 4″ heel gold dance shoes and left them standing amongst the field of chitting Potatoes on the studio floor. EM put on her muddy earth footwear, reached for her bike helmet and reflective visibility vest and then strode down the corridor. Once outside she unlocked her bike and cycled off across the campus to go to the Allotment Plot at MERL. It was almost two weeks after the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, and still there was an on going nuclear crisis at Fukushima.

The weather in the South East of the UK was above normal average temperatures for the time of year. A weatherman said that the 24th March in the UK was warmer than South of Spain, but there was no suggestion that the warmth was to do with any kind of radiation cloud that had drifted 6000 miles around the planet, unlike the radiation cloud that travelled across Europe from Chernobyl disaster in 1986. The Japanese have so far been able to avoid a meltdown, but the situation may not be contained for months, meanwhile radiation continues to leak and the reactor sits dangerously close to a fault line as do others dotted around the Earth’s surface. In 1986 humans had stood outside the public house on Charlotte Road in London enjoying the exceptionally warm weather whilst sheep on Welsh mountains absorbed the radiation.

Ella Montt had arrived at the Allotment Plot at MERL, collected tools from the shed and was now forking over some unseeded parts of the Plot. EM piled more soil on to the Lady Balfour Potatoes earthing them up as a preventative against frost. There had been virtually no rain all month and the weather forecast implied rain was unlikely for almost another week. The temperature felt like May or June, but in reality it was not.

The plants that had managed to survive the winter (some had not) were starting to grow again. The Garlic was looking very good. Ella Montt prepared to plant some more Peas and Broad Beans to fill in the gaps where plants had perished or been eaten. Other seeds were in the process of germinating in pots at the fixed up greenhouse at another location.

As a bumblebee flew by Ella Montt proceeded to plant more seeds. First the overwintered row of Pea Meteor was filled in again. Followed closely by rows of Pea Kelvedon Wonder, Pea Ambassador, Pea (Edible Podded) Ezetha’s Krombek Blauschokker, and Pea (Mange-tout) Oregon Sugar Pod. Then Ella Montt planted some more Broad Bean seeds to try to fill out the broken rows of overwintered Broad Bean Supersimonia and Superaquadulce. Between the two rows of Broad Beans Ella Montt planted a row of Carrots Rothild and Autumn King, then a row of Parsnip Halblange White and a row of Leek Blue Green Winter. Beyond the Garlic, close to the Brick Composter, Ella Montt planted a mixed row of Leaf Beet Rainbow Chard and Kale Halbhoher Grun Krauser. Next to the Herbs at the other end of the Plot, Ella Montt planted a mixture of Onion Ramrod, Dill, Flat Leaved Parsley, and Coriander Santos. The final planting of the day around the Plot was a mixture of Companion Planting flowering seeds, Cosmos Cosmea, Cosmos Orange Cosmea, Borage, Pot Marigold Calendula Officinalis and Nasturtium Organic Mix. Ella Montt knew that Allotment Plot at MERL is small comparatively in size to Allotment Plot 326, but was very conscious of the need for crop rotation whilst she planted. Crop rotation means that no like for like plant should be planted in the same place as the previous year, in order to minimize disease and fertility of the soil.

Whilst Ella Montt was planting she noticed the Mint rhizome had extended out of the Plot and in to the grass of the lawn. This was somewhat of a surprise and an unintentionally thought process. Perhaps on the next visit an attempt will be made to revert this rhizome back in to the boundaries of the Plot. Ella Montt was aware that Mint rhizomes were growing within the Plot, but would need to consult Deleuze and Guattari about removing plant structures that drifted outside of the Plot to see if they needed to be reinstated within the Plot.

At Allotment 326 on Tuesday 22nd, earlier in the week, Ella Montt had planted 15 Madeleine First Early Potatoes that had been chitted in the studio and then EM had carried on digging. Ella Montt had much to do at Allotment Plot 326; there was a never-ending task to try to destroy the rhizomatic growth of the brambles at the Plot. There was also a constant urgency looming over Ella Montt that if a fence was not applied to Allotment Plot 326, rabbits would eat any other vegetable that would be planted at the Plot. Luckily at the moment the rabbits were keeping the encroaching grass well trimmed. Ella Montt was not aware of rabbits existing in the garden at MERL.

In search of the Rhizomatic

Sunflower on the Allotment Plot

16 July 2010 – A light weeding of the Allotment Plot is performed. The Marigolds are in full bloom. A question hangs in the air – whether or not to harvest any Kale Red Russian? Or to leave the leaves until they grow larger? The cut and come again method can prolong the harvest time. Perhaps the Carrots should also be thinned? Or not? They can be left to plump up perhaps, as part of the on going growing experiment? The same questions hang over the Leeks and Parsnips; to thin or not to thin? Ella Montt ponders the Plot. There is currently not much room to plant new seeds. There are no signs of madness staring into the face of a Sunflower.

Rainbow Chard harvested 6oz = 160 grams.

Red Russian Kale Sunflower

22 July 2010 – (Writing this at the Allotment Plot). Rain showers fell this morning; sun is now shining. At the Allotment Plot everything is growing slowly. The red-tinged Lettuce Marvel of the Four Seasons is bolting, so harvesting will commence. Brassicas are growing under the influence of Heavy Metal. In searching for the rhizomatic vegetable an experiment was attempted to sprout shoots known as slips from Sweet Potatoes. The Sweet Potatoes had been suspended in water for one week, but no shoots had appeared from the vegetable. At the Allotment Plot, a hole was dug for a Sweet Potato, which was then buried under the soil to see if that would result in the growth of slips. The Sweet Potato would be unearthed in a week’s time to check on any developments. Sweet Potatoes are a vegetable that grow in a vine like format which is a rhizomatic construction. The leaves of the plant grow above the soil and the shoots grow tubers under the soil whilst growing more slips in different directions which then grow more tubers. A Sweet Potato plant with the right temperature and growing conditions can grow to cover an entire area, which in a sense is truly rhizomatic.

Sweet Potato

Black Fly on the companion planting Pot Marigolds had Ladybirds in attendance. Cabbage White Butterflies fluttered by, fortunately and as yet, there are no signs of their Caterpillars. The season will follow soon. The hungry Caterpillars can be removed from Brassicas to companion planting to avoid total crop devastation. A few Fennel plants are appearing. Weeding action was suspended this week in order to attract more biodiversity. Rainbow Chard harvested = 4oz = 110grams. Marvel of the Four Seasons Lettuce harvested = 6oz = 160grams.

Blackfly and Ladybird

29 July 2010 – On arrival at the Allotment Plot there seemed to be no signs of any rhizomatic growth action by the Sweet Potato, in order to verify this claim, the buried Sweet Potato was unearthed. The Sweet Potato was starting to decompose under the soil, composting itself and not growing any slips. The Sweet Potato was covered again with soil; it will be checked again in a week or two’s time to confirm any results. In search of the rhizomatic, if the Sweet Potato fails to produce the desired slips, the experiment will continue in 2011 at the start of the growing season.

Weather conditions of the day were warm, humid and still very dry. The artist, acting as grower initiated weeding action. Different types of bees and insects were visiting the Plot. Cabbage White Butterflies were not deterred by the fading words on the Pigeon defense mechanisms Heavy Metal CDs. The words will need to reapplied. The Brassicas are growing, but could be attacked at any time by the hatching Caterpillars. Ella Montt continues weeding.

Green Tomatoes are forming and a Pepper. The Pot Marigolds continue to grow prolifically, enjoying the weather. Plants can prefer different types of soil, amounts of water, temperatures and weather conditions. Ella Montt acting as a grower planted more plants as potential rhizomes. Creeping Thyme and Strawberries plants that send out runners in different direction to form new sections of the extend plant.

Strawberry Plant


Both Kales Pentland Brig and Red Russian Curled are almost ready for cut and come again harvesting. A few purple Dwarf Beans Royalty 1.5oz = 40grams and climbing Blauhide Beans 2oz = 60grams were harvested, also some Marvel of the Four Seasons Lettuce 2oz = 60grams, some Rainbow Chard 5oz = 140grams and a yellow Courgette Soleil F1 2oz = 60grams. There are only male flowers on the other squashes so far.


Ella Montt dug two holes in order to plant the wooden legs of a sign carved a few days before in the studio. The sign is made from old wood the is recycled from the fixed up greenhouse. The letters of Ella Montt’s blog address were carved into the wood. The sign was planted and is now part of Ella Montt’s Allotment Plot.

Allotment Plot Sign

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

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