Sunday, 12 June 2011

Keep on the sunny side

Ah, the nation's parched, while Leith drowns.. The rain wasn't ideal for the Leith Gala Day yesterday but perfect for getting the climbing French Beans in the ground and the beginnings of a bamboo curtain built...

At home my lawnmower is currently broken. Whilst I took it last week to get fixed at the perculiarly styled wild west themed lawnmower services guy in Morningside, I've yet to get it back and the back green is looking wild... Coming across this article yesterday by Joe Moran seemed pertinant...

The great lyricist of mowing the lawn is Philip Larkin, who mentions it throughout his poems and letters...Like many gardeners, Larkin moaned constantly about having to cut the grass, but never questioned the fact that he had to do it, in the same way that he complained about the tedium of library committee meetings while diligently chairing them and collecting the minutes. His ambivalent attitude to lawnmowing finds an echo in his poetry, which often suggests that everything is ephemeral and nothing ultimately means anything, but that in our fragile social conventions we find a respite from this knowledge.

Anyone who talks to a gardener with a carefully trimmed lawn will know that lawn care is a rich subculture full of social expectation and shared knowledge, from the relative merits of cylinder and rotary mowers to the dangers of close cropping. Like a lot of things in life in which we invest our physical and emotional labour, keeping a lawn tidy is ultimately pointless. The grass carries on growing, and the lawnmower eventually packs up, followed by its owner. If you want a vivid illustration of this, you can find Larkin’s rusty, grass-coated Victa Powerplus lawnmower in the Hull University library archive.

I always loved Philip Larkin's poetry at school, which contrary to my classmates I thought was too insightful to be depressing... 20 years later and I'd be turning into him - I even bought a Sidney Bechet LP two weeks ago! Meanwhile, here's some pictures of a lovely birthday present from my good chums, Colin and Sharon - who always make me smile!

Monday, 6 June 2011

Snails on the table, food's on the floor

Okay so it's not a horse's head in the bed, or a pigs head on the doorstep, and to be honest: I'm not normally up at 1am on Saturday night (either asleep on sofa, or out - asleep on someone else's sofa!) so I don't know what normally goes on - but finding a slug on one's kitchen table at night is puzzling - surely its not a coded threat from someone to hit me where it hurts - the lettuces! We'll see... 

Meanwhile down on the plot all is going well! The past two weeks have been spent primarily hardening off the brassicas (along with the leeks tucked in the back) in sharon's cold frame.
Down first thing in the morning to lift the 'light' - the lid of the cold frame - and again back at the end of the day to close up - this gives the plants a chance to acclimatise so that when they do go into the ground they don't go into shock and stop growing with the sudden difference of temperature.  
Last Wednesday the new moon co-incided with two days of hot, hot weather so got the Red Rookies cabbages and Olympia Calabrases 'puddled-in' to take advantage of the hot head start... One watering can per plant, then firmed in with the heel as the brassica's need a firm soil to prevent their roots getting shoogled in the winds and slowing growth.

Other crops coming through  - the broad beans, lettuces, early spuds and main crops and onions all responding well to warm and dry weather in May.  The smell of the onions after a mornings watering is gorgeous - the water seems to release a strong, fresh juicy onion smell... best enjoyed whilst having a brew from my favourite birthday present ever - the kelly kettle!

In the greenhouse, I've sown the second sowings of lettuces, and resown the cauliflower and kale in mid may as the first sowings went missing - not sure of they didn't come through or if I culled them by mistake... 

Whilst on the plot the beetroot (Bolthardy and Cylindra), spring onions, pak choi and this years first time challenges - fennel and kohl rabi - have all been planted - Good luck!