Tag Archives: Seeds

Parched Earth, Rain Fall

2nd April 2012, at Allotment Plot 326 the parched Earth was resigned to the tight grip that Drought had on the soil. The grip was in the process of tightening. The soil was cracking. Blossoms enclosed in tight buds were forming on the fruit trees and bushes, but the young Plum Tree, planted a year ago on the Plot, looked like at some point in time it had died. The over-wintered Garlic continued to grow, but the Onions were very thin and faltering. Broad Bean foliage looked uncertain. Water levels in rivers, lakes and human-made reservoir storage facilities were very low. Rain needs to fall in the winter months to really soak the ground. Any rain that falls in the summer months evaporates again too easily or floods because it cannot be absorbed quick enough in to dry ground.

Soil was uncovered and prepared. Potatoes were planted in trenches. Ella Montt saw a Toad climb across the disturbed earth. The Toad headed for some cardboard and disappeared in to concealment. Worms extended their bodies across the soil and sank back in to its hidden depths.

Black smoke rose in to the air from somewhere across the Allotments. A waft of unpleasant aroma moved through the air producing a smell of incinerating plastic or some other unidentified entity.

Seeds planted = Potato Red Duke of York and Nicola.

9th April 2012 – Allotment Plot 326, the fruit blossoms were close to opening. More potatoes were planted. The Hose Pipe ban had come in to affect, yet it had rained.

Seeds planted = Potato Desiree.

12th April 2012, at Allotment Plot at MERL Ella Montt weeded the Plot. The plant residue was placed in the Brick Composter. It had rained after the Hose Pipe Ban came in to affect, but this did not mean that the drought was over. The two-winter drought had depleted stores of water and rivers. Rain in winter seeps in to the ground. Rain in the summer months may not build up the water reserves and reverse the drought; because it is warmer the moisture evaporates more easily.

Ella Montt started to cut the bamboo in to 110cm lengths. The bamboo was pushed it in to the hard ground to erect supports for the Pea plants. A net structure was tied between the supports for the Peas to cling on to.

14th April 2012, in the fixed up Greenhouse at another location, some Tomato seedlings were emerging. Ella Montt planted more seeds. Close by a Black Bumble Bee had chosen to nest under some old concrete; soon smaller Bee Friends would be

Seeds planted: Cucumber Tanja x 6, Marketmore x 6; Melon Sivan Fi x 6; Courgette Black Beauty x 12, Gold Rush x 5; Marrow Long Green Bush x 4, Sunburst F1 x 5, Tigers Cross x 5; Pumpkin Mars x 6, Giant Atlantic x 4, Connecticut Field x 4 ; Squash Big Max x 3, Twonga x 6.

16th April 2012, Allotment Plot 326, now the fruit blossoms were bursting open, but the Plum tree stilled seemed dead. More potatoes were planted and other seeds. The soil was dry, the earth parched, even after April showers.

Seeds planted: Potato Charlotte; Onion Red Baron x 250g; Broad Bean  Hangdown Green x 20; Brussels Sprout Groninger; Leek Blue Green Winter; Carrot Rodelika; Beetroot Bolivar.

20th April 2012, at Allotment Plot at MERL the soil looked more moist. The showers of April seemed as though they had jumped back in to synchronicity and a more expected rhythm. Ella Montt examined the Plot for evidence of wildlife consuming the vegetable seedlings as they emerged from the soil. Sometimes there was no evidence; plant material vanished without any trace.

30th April 2012, by the end of April rainfall had accelerated in to a sudden deluge. The ground under the surface was still parched and hard, so the water in some places flooded. Within a matter of days it became the wettest April on the Island in over one hundred years. Once again there was an experience of extreme weather.

Winter Drought

The Allotment Plots are sitting in an area experiencing a two-year winter drought.

On the 9th February at Allotment Plot at MERL, it was a cold, dull, grey day. The ground was dry and frigid. Evaporation was methodically drying the soil. The recent weather conditions had been a mixture of bright sunshine, frost, snow and a lack of rain; the frost however, was not icy, because of this. The Mulberry Tree sat next to the Plot breathing slowly, waiting for Spring and it’s sap to rise again. Ella Montt had arrived at the Plot anticipating the harvesting of slender Leeks, but the Leeks were too slim pickings and so were left attached to the soil. The potential of this year’s plant growth within the Plot was severely delayed. The evidence of vegetables was becoming questionable to the human eye. Garlic and Onion shoots looked like they were trying to emerge from the soil, but they seemed most uncertain. A force that stretched from across the galaxy and interacted with the Earth’s moisture flow was restricting Ella Montt’s efforts.

12th February 2012 – At Allotment Plot 326 snow lay on the ground, some of it had melted away. Leeks were harvested. Drought continued.

Harvest: Leeks Blue Green Winter = 1lb 7oz = 650g.

24th February 2012 – There was still no rain and the temperature was almost like an early spring. Many breathing objects, including humans, announced that the climatic conditions were quite beautiful. Kant walked outside in to the open air and nodded with agreement. In the fixed-up greenhouse at another location, Ella Montt decided it was not too early to plant seeds.

Seeds planted: Brussels Sprouts Darkmor 21; Tomato Marmande, Chadwick and Brandywine; Pepper (Hot) Earley Jalapeno and Ring O’Fire; Artichoke Arad and Aubergine Black Beauty.

Comfrey and Seed Planting

Tuesday 12th April 2011 – At Allotment Plot 326, digging of an area of ground was completed. Seeds were then planted as follows: Leeks Almera, Kale Red Russian Curled, Beetroot Bolivar, Carrot Amsterdam Forcing, and Carrot Rothild. Ella Montt noted that both a Carrot fly deterrent barrier and also a Heavy Metal collection of CD’s to deter hungry birds needs to be deployed.

Weeding of the overwintered planted area that contains the Garlic, Onions, Spinach, Broad Beans and newly planted Shallots Red Sun commenced.

Thursday 14th April 2011 – Ella Montt had acquired a small Comfrey plant donated by ImL. At Allotment Plot At MERL, Ella Montt selected a place in the Plot and planted the Comfrey in the corner of the Brick Composter. A tiny Stinging Nettle plant was observed establishing itself where it had been situated a few weeks ago in the opposite corner of the Composter. Both Comfrey and Stinging Nettle can be harvested as they grow to act as activators to the compost. Comfrey is a good plant food for Tomatoes and Potatoes. Stinging Nettles are loved by Ladybirds and can also be used for human consumption when cooked (much like Spinach). Both plants have their own particular medicinal qualities.

The net fence that had been installed around the Peas seemed to have so far prevented bird assault on the young plants. Perhaps the Peas could not be seen through the netting? To try to prevent an aerial offensive green plastic string was tied between the Bamboo tripods.

It had rained very lightly the previous evening, but the soil was still exceptionally dry and it was necessary to water the Plot. Ella Montt fetched the watering can from the shed to assist in the watering process.

At the fixed up greenhouse some seeds had germinated, but growth of Tomato and Pepper plants remained fairly slow. Sunflower and Globe Artichoke had germinated with ease, however the act of planting outside was on hold, because although frost seemed unlikely in the current weather forecast, sudden and unexpected frosty temperatures can still arrive in May. Therefore the waiting game continued. A newspaper report was read that indicated rainfall for the time of year was below average and drought was already looming. Meanwhile more seeds were selected and planted in pots in the fixed up greenhouse. The seeds were as follows:

08/04/2011, Sweetcorn True Gold; French Bean (Dwarf) Royalty; French Bean (Climbing) Barlotto Lingua di Fuoco, Blauhide, Blue Lake, and Neckarqueen, and Runner Bean Enorma.

16/04/2011, Melon Sivan F1; Cucumber Marketmore and Tanja, Courgette Cocozelle, Patriot F1 and Soliel F1; Squash Big Max, Black Futsu, Blue Ballet, Buttercup, Butternut, (Pumpkin) Cinderella, Fictor F1, Green Hokkaido, (Pumpkin) Jack O’Lantern, Marina Di Chioggia, Musquee de Provence, Red Turban and Uchiki Kuri.

Last years Beans at the Allotment produced a good harvest, but last years Squashes were slow to grow on the Plot and did not produce a good harvest. This year Ella Montt is taking action to try to improve the fertility of the soil for the Squashes, because the plants like a compost rich soil, but the management of weather conditions to enhance growth development is still under observation and reflection. If drought continues more water will need to be applied.

Planting to Overwinter

At Ella Montt’s Allotment Plot at MERL on the 15th October 2010 it was a perfect Autumn day, the leaves were gently falling from the trees in the garden (and along the foot/cycle path journey route). The Mulberry tree leaves, next to the Allotment Plot, had mostly turned to yellow. The Cosmos Cosmea‘s pink petals seemed like patches of faded summer colour amongst the Autumn rusting hues. It has not rained significantly in so many days, the soil looked dry, but moisture exists below the surface. More flower seeds were collected. Ella Montt harvested the Climbing Beans that were ready to be picked and removed some more of the plants that had finished producing. Carrots were dug. The Beetroot never grew to their potential. Digging with a garden fork commenced to redefine some of the Plots edges and also to dig in lightly some of the Fenugreek as a green manure. Any unwanted plant residue from the Plot was added to the brick lined compost area.

Cosmos CosmeaNext to the Cosmos Cosmea

In the spaces that had opened up on the Plot Ella Montt planted an amount of seeds to overwinter. Next to the recently germinated Carrots which are close to the compost area four types of Garlic were planted; 2 cloves x Elephant Garlic (1), followed by 8 cloves x Dukat Garlic (2), then 16 cloves x Sprint Garlic (3) and then 14 cloves x Thermidrome Garlic (4). Next two rows of Onions Swift were planted, 2 x 13 = 26 sets. Broad Bean (1) Supersimonia x 16 beans were planted near to the Brassicas and then an adjacent row of Broadbean (2) Super Aquadulce x 16 beans. Where the Carrots had been dug Pea Meteor were planted in a concentrated amount (50 approximately), as the rest of the carrots are dug more Peas will be planted.

Planting GarlicPlanting Elephant Garlic Clove

The days harvest: Lettuce Marvel of the Four Seasons = 2oz = 60g; Carrots Amsterdam Forcing = 1lb 2oz = 500g; Climbing Beans = 3oz = 80g; Runner Beans Blue Lake 7oz = 200g; Runner Beans Painted Lady = 7oz = 200g.

Germination at the Plot

Some seeds have germinated at the Allotment Plot. Weeds also have appeared. Removal of weeds needs to be activated. This will be an on going process now that the Spring has arrived. Spring, like any other time of year, possesses a diverse spectrum of elemental weather conditions. Warmth from sunlight can be followed by fog and cloud. Sudden outbursts of thunder and lightening can be followed by torrential rainfall or sharp bursts of solid precipitation, hail. The temperature of both day and night time is inconsistent, frost is still a danger and snow also, this danger will last for the month of April and can extend to the month of May. Strong wind can rip tiny fruits and nuts from trees. Damage to fruits and vegetables could happen at anytime.There is no knowing what the harvest will be. Meanwhile, the hours of daylight are extending, which accelerates germination and growth.Brussel Sprout Seedlings

Twenty-five Red Baron Onion Sets were planted. The plot may now be overloaded with potential. The overwintered peas look like they are failing, weather damage has taken its toll, harvest amounts therefore may be very low unless replanted. Replanting may not be an option. If human survival is dependent on the harvest, it is yet to be proven.

March Vegetables

Another Planting Performance

The Allotment Plot thickens with another Planting Performance in the Garden at MERL (18/03/2010). The weather conditions were good for planting again. The day was pleasantly warm with the Spring equinox approaching. Rain was in the forecast and needed, but that did not occur until the evening when darkness fell.

Ella Montt selected seed packets, some tools, gardening gloves, a small bell, a thermos and a measuring stick and placed the objects next to Allotment Plot. Then with a hoe and small hand fork proceeded to remove some grass plants growing on the Plot. Shallow drills were constructed with the hoe, these were ground incisions for seed accumulation in the planting process. The first seeds were delivered to their destinations. The bell was rung along the line of seeds to awaken them from dormancy to germination state. The hoe was then utilized to cover the seeds with the soil to complete the planting process. More seeds were chosen and the process of planting began again.

Allotment Performance Again

As the Allotment Plot thickens, Ella Montt pauses to observe the notes written about the seeds that had previously been planted. Ella Montt drinks a cup of tea from the thermos, a normal activity for a person or persons working on their allotments and part of the Performance. Pondering on the size of the Plot, and the space limitation, Ella Montt decides that an optimum number of seeds should be planted. This would maximize the Plot and may retain more water through ground coverage rather than water evaporation process taking place in a drought situation. Irrigation would be ideal and a water butt close to hand, but this is not a current option. Ella Montt is conscious that intensive farming can destroy the fertility of the soil.

The notion of what to grow and how to grow it, can be calculated and assisted. Ella Montt chooses to grow organically without the assistance of animal by products, but with the assistance of biodiversity present within the Garden, a veganic method.  A ladybird (ladybug) arrives on the scene at the Allotment Plot, a very welcome guest, who will assist in pest control. One perhaps could wonder if a vegan (who eats plant based foods), should choose the biodiversity of wildlife as a form of natural pest control in the growing method of plant based food products. A genetically modified seed could grow without the use of natural wildlife pest control, no insects or animals would be harmed in the growth of the food product. However, genetically modified food production results in the loss of biodiversity, it breaks the food chain for insects and animals, resulting in the loss of species on the whole planet. Using the immediate gratification of growing genetically modified crops as an answer to world need for food production becomes its own fictional myth and as a consequence produces its own catastrophe not just through the loss of species, but also through crop failure and the ingestion of genetics that are in themselves harmful to the being that eat them. Veganic growing uses no animal by products to fertilise the soil, it instead relies on green manures and composting to make the soil fertile and it encourages biodiversity of insects and animals to act as agents in pest control, and the use of companion planting which is also very important in the growing process.


Seeds that were planted during the Planting Performance were as follows:

Leek Almera, Kale Red Russian Curled, Spinach Matador (Atlanta), Leaf Beat Rainbow Chard, Beetroot Bolivar, Cabbage Savoy (Vertus), Rocket Wild, Lettuce Lollo Rosso, Spring Onion White Lisbon, and Lettuce Marvel of Four Seasons. What will germinate and grow for now remains a mystery, but hope for a good harvest will be constant.

The coldest winter in thirty years awaits the coming of warmer weather. Later that day, a bee was seen, a frog hopped by in search of a pond and a snail arrived to eat the vegetable crop. The growing cycle continues.

Planting Performance at MERL

Planting Performance at MERL happened on 5 March 2010 11am-1pm. Weather conditions for the Planting were good; frost overnight, sun bright and warm, slight breeze, last rainfall a few days before, specifics for planting were appropriate.


Grounds men had recently deposited a large pile of compost that was available for usage. The compost was derived from recycled green waste at the University. Some of the compost was shoveled into three wheelbarrow loads and delivered to the Allotment Plot, then shoveled out and spread with the use of an historic rake. The rake was purchased at a car boot sale four years ago and handed to the artist, (who is now known as the subject Ella Montt).

Perform Raking

Seed planting began including conversation. Ella Montt as a subject is not a gardener, but Ella Montt as an artist is performing planting and gardening. Ella Montt is planting performance within the arena of MERL, the museum’s garden. The Allotment Plot is a performance area. Performance and growing is Ella Montt’s medium, for Ella Montt this is the same as painting or sculpture.  Ella Montt’s intention is to encourage critical debate with persons that may come into direct or indirect contact with Ella Montt. The aesthetic surrounds ethics and political motivation or material. The viewer may or may not wonder what other impulses are hidden within or behind the Allotment Plot.

Perform Writing

Organic vegetable seeds planted were as follows: 2 rows of Brussels Sprouts Darkmar 21, 1 row of Cauliflower Snowball, 2 rows of Parsnip Halblange White, 1 row of Carrots Amsterdam Forcing, 1 row of Kale Pentland Brig. Other organic herb and flower seeds were also planted; Dill, Coriander Santos, Flat Leaved Parsley, Borage, Nasturium, Pot Marigold Calendula Officinalis and Cosmos Cosmea.

Perform Seed Planting

What seeds germinate and what will survive to grow to maturity is a hidden mystery, unpredictable from the start. Harvest is the intention. Weather acts as an agent. Wild life that is present in the garden can harvest at will unless blocked by human interference. Biodiversity acts out its role as assistant in promotion and deterrent in the organic state, with no need for chemical warfare.

Allotment Planting Performance

Studio Re-potting

The first seedlings were re-potted in the studio allotment on the 4th February.  The tiny seedlings were tentatively dug out of their plug trays with a spoon, then delicately transplanted into the waiting earth in their new (recycled) pots. Their radicles (embryonic roots) were carefully covered. Their hypocotyls (embryonic shoots) uncertainly sitting weakly in the soil, bowed under the weight of their new cotyledons (seed leaves). Quantities of germinated seedlings were recorded.

Seedling Re-potting

Seedlings germinated and re-potted: 13 Tomato Zuckertraube, 12 Tomato Gardeners Delight, 6 Tomato Chadwick, 4 Nastirum, 5 Cosmos, 2 Carnations, 5 Pot Marigold, 4 Flat Parsley, 5 Sweetpeas, 2 Sage.

Not all the seedlings had sprouted. Only one onion had sent a slender green spike out of the soil. No Aubergine or peppers had appeared, their radical transformation from dormant seeds to photomorphogenesis would seem to be delayed in transmission by an undetermined set of reasons that can only be speculated but would seem rooted in probability.


Seeds at the Studio Allotment

More seeds were planted at the studio allotment on the 27/01/2010.  The seeds were sourced from Tamar Organics. These seeds planted were as follows:

Aubergine Black Beauty x 15

Pepper Sweet Tamar x 15

Pepper (Hot) Ring of Fire x 12

Pepper (Hot) Early Jalapeno x 12

Pepper Seeds

Aubergine Seeds

The seeds that had germinated on 29/01/2010 were recorded as follows:

Tomato Zuckertraube = 10

Tomato Gardeners Delight = 5

Nasturium = 3

Pot Marigold = 11

Sweet Pea = 5

Cosmos = 6

Carnation = 3

If seeds are rooted too early, life support may fail due to weather intervention. This failure can happen in the internal designated growing space, in this case the studio, (or more commonly in a greenhouse or domestic interior area) and externally, when a plant is growing in the open air. Failure in the growing cycle can happen unexpectedly at any given time due to adverse weather conditions. The breakdown of the organic growing machine and catastrophic crop failure can fracture systems and cause devastation for species. It is not just a question of survival of the fittest but an attribute of unpredictability out of human control.

Seed Planting

Seeds were planted in the studio for the MERL allotment plot. The studio will act as a propagator for the photosynthetic organisms to generate. Old plug trays were used as initial receptacles for seed germination. Seeds are from Tamar Organics. Compost originated from recycled green waste matter collected by RBC processed into compost and then sold back to the community.

January seed plantings:

Tomato – Gardeners Delight (x 18)

Tomato – Chadwick (x 12)

Tomato – Zuckertraube (x 12)

Onion – Red Baron (x 18)

Sage – Salvia Officinalio (x 12)

Flat Leaved Parsley (x 14)

Companion Planting seeds (very important in the organic growing process):

Cosmos – Cosmea (x 20)

Pot Marigold – Calendula Officinalis (x 19)

Sweet Pea – Tamar Mix (x 13)

Nasturium – Organic Mix (x 5)

Dahlia (x 7)

Carnation – (Giant Chabaud Mixed (x 7)

Seed Planting