I took these photos on Sunday afternoon in a fit of late-day sunshine. These are the allotment apple trees, their produce free for anyone to pick. The only problem this year was the crops were so plentiful, and the October winds so fierce, that most of the apples were blown off their stems and into bruising piles. And then there are only so many apple crumbles and pies you can eat if you do not wish to expand to fill one’s particular lockdown premises and so be inextricable by the time we, along with our personal resident viral-bacterial populations, are liberated to the wide world. In the meantime the wildlife of the creeping, pecking sort has a plentiful store to graze on, which in turn serves as a timely reminder that there usually is a positive side to most situations; someone benefits.
Passing thought: the chair in real life is a weathered sage green plastic effort, one of a pair that sat outside my polytunnel for years before I donated them to the communal apple-tree-tea-break-zone. It’s strange it looks so white and also unfocused in these photos; something oddly reflective going on here.
It has to be said the November allotment is a pretty dreary place. The ground is sodden and too many of the plots have run amok. But here and there, if I focus on the particular rather than the whole, a few happenstance artworks catch my eye.
Simon’s Globe Artichokes gone to seed.
Jenny’s watering can where it has been hanging for the last several years. ***
Self-grown Snapdragon in my old runner bean plot. On its second flowering.
Duckweed and leaves on the allotment pond
Fallen apples on an abandoned plot
Quince leaves in the communal orchard
Six Word Saturday
*** Thom who is a marvel at flash fiction on just about any topic and in any setting and with a seemingly endless array of compelling characters was ‘spoken to’ by the watering can. Pop over to his place to see what he’s written: https://tnkerr.wordpress.com/2019/11/17/a-bit-o-friction-tween-old-jenny-and-mulvaney/
I just love it when one thing leads to another. Cheers Thom!
Up at the allotment this morning it was full throttle crocus, and also this year’s first sighting of a honey bee which was paying them a visit. Sadly the bee is missing from this photo due to the malfunctioning state of the camera wielder who was in a bit of a dream due to the astonishing arrival of warm and dazzling sunshine.
In fact the day remained so perfect I returned to the allotment late this afternoon to do some actual work. Nothing like a bit of twilight gardening with only foraging blackbirds for company. The sky over the town was rose pink, and all was quiet on the allotment plots. When I opened up the polytunnel it was pleasantly warm inside. I sowed some spinach seeds in one of the corner beds, broad beans in modular trays (Super Aquadulce, and Masterpiece Green Longpod) and a few handfuls of Early Onward peas in two metre lengths of plastic guttering (a method that makes for speedy transplanting).
And then as the fine weather had done a good job drying up the allotment’s general sogginess, I thought it would be a good moment to fetch some soil from the old compost heap which some of us have been recycling over the last three years. In the last of the daylight I managed two barrow loads of nice crumbly soil, just enough to top dress a raised bed. And then, as it really was growing dark, I put away grandfather’s spade and walked home across Townsend Meadow under a bright half moon, serenaded by blackbirds singing their evening songs.
Happy Valentine’s Day
Love Not War
copyright 2019 Tish Farrell
I’ve written quite a lot about bees on this blog, and in particular the threat of neonicotinoid pesticides to which, researchers suggest, bees become addicted (see Bee-ing Bee-Minded), so I am hugely pleased to find so many bees feeding on my untainted raspberry flowers. Nothing like the sound of happy, busy bees and the sight of all those raspberries in the making. Thank you bees.
copyright 2018 Tish Farrell
All of a sudden we’re having summer here in Shropshire, and it’s a case of catch-up at the allotment – not only with the jobs that could not be done over the cold, wet thrice snowy winter, but also trying to keep up with spring-sown plants that are romping every which way and need to be put somewhere. The ‘somewhere’ inevitably needs more preparation than I’d realised, and more digging than I’d hoped to do, given my no-dig pipe dream objectives. I’m beginning to think our Silurian Clag really needs total soil replacement – as in complete interment by a foot of decent loamy earth. And if that’s down to me, then that means making humungous quantities of compost. It could take years.
Yesterday I did five solid hours of labouring under the sun. The new plot by the polytunnel was alive with bee-hum. The bees were whizzing by with such greedy intent among the raspberry flowers, I could actually feel the air move as they passed me. Bbbzzzzzzzzoom. And then the birds were singing their hearts out – loud, louder, loudest – especially the blackbirds. Which reminded me to put netting over the strawberries. I ate my first sun-warmed strawberry yesterday – the best strawberry of all – that first one.
The five hours slipped away. Gardener’s time is of course quite different from everyone else’s. He Who Waits At The Farrell Establishment never knows when supper is happening. Also when I do decide to head for home the light is usually so diverting that I have to start taking photos. Besides, the raggedy old allotments are a wonderful place to be at sundown – when you have put the spade away and shut up the shed – the wide views over Wenlock; the scents of growing; the quietness of plants.
copyright 2018 Tish Farrell
Roof Squares #4
Another day, another drenching. But sometimes we get rainbows too. This one was spotted at the allotment, though it’s not the one I saw the day before yesterday, because I didn’t have my camera with me. Pretty dramatic though, looking over the town to Walton Hill.
The quotation is from Shakespeare’s King Lear Act 3 scene 2
Six Word Saturday Now please pop over to Debbie’s for a very astonishing vista
Dare one say it – suddenly spring seems more intentional, as if it’s meaning to stay for more than five minutes? These lesser celandines were blooming hell for leather yesterday when I was delivering stuff to the allotment. Even the spider seems to be having a bit of a sun bathe (apologies arachnophobes) rather than being sneekily on the hunt.
Things being transported to the plot included three black bin bags of leaves gathered from mother-in-law’s lawn (they will take a couple of years to turn into very useful leaf mould) and twenty new seven-foot canes. These last are not for this year’s runner beans, but for peas. After seeing last summer’s mega-pea-crop success of fellow allotmenteer, Dave, I thought I would give climbing pea Alderman a go. This is a heritage variety, apparently favoured by ‘good old boys on their allotments’, and not much to be found elsewhere.
You need to treat them like runner beans using plenty of tall supports because they may end up growing six to eight feet tall i.e. heading for around 2 metres. The beauty of this variety is that it crops without surplus production over several months. Whereas modern pea varieties tend to produce all at once, which is why you need to sow the seed successionally e.g. every couple of weeks, which can be a faff if you lose track of time.
At the moment the pea seeds are just germinating (I sow in trays due to allotment mice), and yesterday I moved the first batch into the cold frame, so I truly am hoping that winter has gone. I will report back in a few months time on how this good old girl is getting on with the Alderman.
copyright 2018 Tish Farrell
Six Word Saturday
I don’t think I’ve every thought about what spiders do in winter – apart from their sneaking into our house and lurking there for the duration. So I was mightily surprised on my way over the field to the allotment yesterday to find lots of webs like these among the tussocks of flattened, snow-emerged grass. I was also surprised to feel the sun warm on my head as I bent down to take this photo.
Up at the allotment, and despite the sudden warmth, all was in a state of post-snow-shock. The aged damson tree had lost a branch. The green manure mustard that I’d grown on several plots was sprawled about the place, and my pigeon defence system over the kale completely collapsed. It mostly looked damp and dreary everywhere.
But I did spy some field beans sprouting, and the self-seeded marigolds were flowering heroically. I plucked a few leeks, and leaves of perpetual spinach, chard and kale.
Then I wandered around other people’s plots, looking at what was what. At first I thought my only company was a wren, flitting like a little moth in the greengage tree. But when I reached the big conifer on the allotment boundary, I spotted a Goldcrest foraging in its branches – our tiniest British bird (I think) apart from its cousin the Firecrest. And then there were the blackbirds feasting on a hoard of fallen apples. None of them stayed around to be photographed though.
And that included the kestrel who was using the summit of an ash tree as a look-out post. It flew off as I drew near. And it was then I noticed a very strange mist creeping across the farm fields towards the town. Some shape-shifting solstice invader masquerading as miasma…?
P.S. “there’s magic in the web of it” is from Shakespeare’s Othello
Six Word Saturday Please pop over to Debbie’s for more 6SW offerings.