Friday, 24 December 2010

Merry Christmas!

Another year, the snow lying thick on the ground... Hiding all but the pigeon stripped kale shoots... The chutney's being distributed... Goodwill to all man, and animalkind! Seasonal greetings to my readers all over the world and may nature be kind to you all in 2011! Johnny

Sunday, 7 November 2010

To Yorkshire

Allotments in Saltaire, Yorkshire

Love in the Laundrette

Two of a kind, we have so much in common
I thought, as I cycled past her on the Common

Our bags were stuffed with soiled belongings
Was she lonely too? Filled with untold longings?

I could write a tune, a poem or a play for her
Knowing that soon I would make a play for her

Although our eyes had met only moments ago
Once inside, I decided to give it a go

Cried: 'Let's put our clothes into the same wash!'
The look of horror told me that it wouldn't wash

'Let's save time and money. Share our washing powder.'
But she turned her back and snapped, 'Take a powder.'

She needed her own machine. To run her own cycle.
So I unloaded, and lonely, rode home on my cycle.

Roger McGough

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Not currently doing much work!


It may be autumn and the leaves dropping off the fruit bushes, but the raspberries keep coming. My favourite fruit! They don't come all at once but rather a good bucket a week from early september to now...

Otherwise turning the compost; transporting the nitrogen heavy, lemon smelling fruit and veg scraps from home through the streets of restalrig, risking earning myself a nickname of stinky johnny from the kids by the vennel, to mix with the crops.. Six months from now!!

Have to dash: the blog has now gone live... And colski's here at the gate to share a brew and celebrate thedons cuffing the hibbees by 4 goals to 1! Might even get him to guest blog! Another first for the warm shoots!

Sunday, 10 October 2010


Digging the main crop spuds... Good size (due to the chemicals?! More like Godzilla size!). Best left for a couple of hours in the cold portobello air to harden the skins before storing for the winter

Sunday, 29 August 2010


Sandy, Hissy the boa Constrictor and me popped down on a sunny sunday to catch up on the courgettes progress.

After last year's haul of plum and courgette chutney thanks to my brother's Simon plums from East Belfast flat, from which he has moved from (albeit four streets up the road) and therefore no longer access to , I was left wondering a) what was I to do with more bloody courgettes and b) what's maggie going to have on her cheese sarnies for the next three months. However luckily just as the courgettes have turned into hugettes over the past fortnight, Kim and Tania's new house has a plum tree square in the back garden. To be boiled collectively next weekend...

I planted out the last of the lettuce a fortnight ago. Meanwhile the beetroots were cropped first on Sun 22 May, after a couple of rows failing to germinate early in the year. The first french beans were collected today and the kale planted out a fortnight ago after the first earlies are looking decidedly ravaged by caterpillars. Lots of blackberries, and the first inklings of the autumn raspberries!.. Hissy couldn't contain himself.

Monday, 9 August 2010

garlic harvested

No, its not one of my paintings, it is in fact the autumn planted garlic pulled tonight and left to dry in the shed - took a handful of fresh green bulbs for garlic soup. Meanwhile the Olympia broccoli has grown to gauarantuan propotions - seems awful early to me? However (NB for next year) they were planted on 7 March, and were probably ready to start picking in July, providing enough for two months - a second sowing at the end of April/early may would be worthwhile as it produces through to Nov.

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Homecooked productions - Beyond Rhubarb and Custard!

Good thing about allotmenteering is sharing the produce round when the glut comes. Having received the rhubarb, good pals Matt and Kate spent a long time at their kitchen table, chopping and trying things out before coming up with the following - Rhubarb and Strawberry Crumble!

Check out their new animation, produced in much the same way, for further seasonal, homecooked delight!

Monday, 2 August 2010

Primos - summer cabbages

Progress: Primo summer cabbage
Planted: 7 March
Potted out: early April - photo from 24 April
Planted out 22 May
Coming on..., 9 Jun
Hearting up, 17 July. (First picking on 2 August)

Savoys planted late april , potted on 22 May
Responding to being in pot, 29 May
Planted out, after the broad beans - last picked tonight, 2 August

Monday, 5 July 2010


The big news this spring is the infection of the group manure the plot committee had clubbed together to organise and buy from the stables. Unfortunately shortly after coming through, the shaws of the spuds started to wither, curling in on themselves. Originally i thought it was infected seed potatoes but then others on the plots were affected - maybe it was airborne aphids, but then why were so many people affected spread out across the site, whilst some in between were okay.

Turns out that this is a recent problem which is becoming more and more of an issue - farmers are spraying grass to control weeds, the hay is harvested, sold via hay merchant to stables, horses digest and poo, and eventually the manure (after breaking down for a year or two) comes to growers. One of this blogs loyal readers in New Zealand commented that it was a problem down there!! Plots across the whole of Edinburgh have been affected. It is galling that this not only has affected organic growers unwittingly compromising their growing but the fact it stay in the food chain for so long signals the strength, which is itself worrying and reminds us of the chemicals that are throughout food. Dow, the makers claim it is safe to eat produce from affected areas - but then they would say that wouldn't they.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

the view from here

A nice sunny afternoon, potting on and admiring the views!

Time to have another getting at the tomatoes right - I don't think i have the attention or finesse required for them - much happier planting out the summer cabbage and lettuce!

Monday, 3 May 2010

you shower

So the eagle- eyed action Men and awake readers will have noticed a glaring mistake - the plot plan had four beds on the left hand side, when in fact there's five! Realising you've an extra bed for the season was like pulling over to pick up a hitch-hiker and finding out its Cat Power, asking you if you know the way to San Josè! So the peas have re-entered this years plan... planted in succession on 11 April, and 2 May.
The planting two weeks ago (on the 11 April) is proving fruitful - check out the progress so far: Musselburgh leeks, Red Rookie cabbage, wheeler imperial cabbage, Nero Kale, Borecole Kale, Celeriac and Sprouting Broccoli - all catching up on the Primo summer cabbages and Olympia Calabrase... the first batch of lettuces is out...the fruit trees buding and blossoming and the spuds are up!!

Thursday, 8 April 2010

We're going on a spud hunt

Been a busy week, reaping what was sown a while back which has kept me from the allotment. Not that that freshly prepped tattie bed is still vacant as maggie sandy and patrick stepped up to the plate and got the Maris Bards in on thursday on a spud planting expedition as documented by Sandy. You can imagine the level of instructions I gave!
Whilst there, Maggie and the boys were approached by the previous plotholder who still walks her dog on the golf course everyday. When I first moved in to plot no. 45 Pat had left me a note in the shed wishing me good luck, her and her late husband has had many having years tending and cropping but it was too much for just her now. I never met her in my two years since we moved up the site, but apparently she keeps an eye out for it each day, and particularly likes the stoop!

And I was quite touched as whilst you all avidly read the latest online, Pat comes past once a day, and is quietly happy to see it still productive and tended. And as the seasonal cycle starts again, the fruit buds starting to swell in spring sunshine, and the seeds soaked start to slowly germinate through the shorter nights... its not my allotment. I'm just looking after it for the now.

Sunday, 4 April 2010

Shovel our Shit day

Got stuck in early on Sunday, and managed to get the Fen Early onions in,

prepped the bed for the first earlies (Maris Bard) only to get a phone call at 9.21am calling me away to get to Crammond whilst the tide was out for a walk with the boys and good pals Colin and Sharon. Apparently the lifeboat at South Queensferry is the busiest in Scotland (as opposed to those slackers at North Berwick!) due to people getting stuck on the island - the RNLI are having a SOS themed fundraiser next year - Jan 28 2011 and are asking people to come up with their own event - Sow our Spuds day? (too early!), Sharpens our spade day (difficult to pan that out too full day?!) Shovel our Shit day (methinks thats the money bus!) - diaries out please!!

Monday, 22 March 2010

the power plant

Ah the good old days when i worked freelance and had mondays off! Got home from Skye late last night, and so spent the day dottering before getting down at 4pm. Just enough time to get the salads going - mizuna, red salad bowl, webbs wonderful, all year round, cos and romaine.

Cabbage and broccoli already peeking out - and got the Meteor Broad beans into the ground next to the ones planting last autumn - the race is on...

Be good to find out if planting early means slower growing leading to less strong plants - and therefore plant late, the seeds will catch up but be stronger - my hunch is yes. Any thoughts anyone?

Once a year you need to get the fire going - heres a pic from Feb!

Sunday, 7 March 2010


A beautiful spring day today - four hours spent fixing the greenhouse, installing two new panes, general tidy - taking out the last of the leeks which are slightly mushy and past their best signalling the should really come out last month - shouldn't really effect the soup I got in the hot pot right now!!

Plenty of jerusalem artichokes to re-establish that crop.

Cleared the sprouting broccoli and mixed in the manure to the first bed.
And planted the Lautrec garlic, and shallots, and Raab Broccoli outside,
and two rows of Olympia Broccoli, and Primo summer cabbage in the greenhouse.

Be good to see how the garlic compares to that planted in autumn:

Spent the morning listening to Joanna Newsom's new album as I banged, cut and brushed but it was David Holmes' latest on shuffle which prompted me to stop, sit back and listen later on

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

You reap what you sow

You've seen the order now peruse the plan!

Recently spent a sunday dismantling the fruit cage, and strapping up the loganberries - seems like there's lots more space already!

Looking west to Nagano...
Looking east to Vancouver...

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

This years roll call

So here's what consitutes this years hunches.

I'm not bothering with the main crop spuds given the poor
return in the last two years, compared to the ground used...
Otherwise most of the seeds
from last year will cary through...

Cabbage Red Rookie Seeds - Quantity: 65 Seeds

Nemaslug Slug Killer (40m² Pack) - Quantity: 40m² Nemaslug Pack

Beetroot Cylindra Seeds - Quantity: Sufficient Seed For A 40ft / 12m Row

Climbing French Bean Cobra Seeds - Quantity: Sufficient Seed For A 25ft / 7.5m Row

Broad Bean Meteor Vroma Seeds - Quantity: Sufficient Seed For A 25ft / 7.5m Row

Lady Balfour Seed Potatoes (Second Early) - Quantity: 2Kg Pack (25-30 Tubers)

Maris Bard Seed Potatoes (First Early) - Quantity: 2Kg Pack (25-30 Tubers)

Lautrec Wight Garlic - Quantity: 2 Bulbs (min. 15 cloves, typically 20-25)

Shallot Bulbs: Picasso - Quantity: 25 Bulbs

Onion Sets: Fen Early (Heat Prepared) - Quantity: Approx. 100 Fen Early Onion Sets

Monday, 11 January 2010

Purple sprouting Broccoli attack!

Happy new year everyone!

Reading scare stories regarding the food scarcities wrought by the cold weather, so decided to wander down to the allotment to check how number 45 was doing, saying as i was at home trying to write an essay - a lo and behold, got down there to disturb two fat pigeons coo-ing as they got stuck into the purple sprouting broccoli. They've pretty much decimated them but we'll see if any buds get through...

Leeks still standing!

Also the Calvo Nero Kale looked weedy but it seems the more you pick the more it grows!