Saturday, October 16, 2010

Earth room

I took my first trip to New York last month. Although it has the tallest buildings I've ever set eyes on, it also has lots of pockets and snaking ribbons of green. From the great breathing spaces of central park and the botanic garden out in the Bronx through to the sympathetically planted overhead railway, offering a nature walk along the highline with views to match.

Perhaps more unexpected were the garden plots we chanced across when exploring Manhattan. La Guardia Corner Gardens is one such instance, located between Bleecker and Houston. The plot was developed by neighbourhood gardeners in 1981 on a piece of city property which was just barren land. It is a beautiful if unexpected intervention into the cityscape. Peering through the chainlink fence we watched sparrows hopping between plants while monarch butterflies and huge black bees took advantage of the buddlia bush.

Sadly, as with all city space there, land is money which makes this green space far from secure. NYU have plans to develop ‘superblock’ accommodation towers which would shade out the garden effectively killing it. A campaign has been launched to protect it but you have to wonder if planners will value the importance of this backyard wildlife habitat.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Late sun

I was almost tricked into thinking that it was high summer today even though the evidence was against it. The sun has now sunk down in the sky casting a warm filtered light. Bees are outnumbered by yellow jackets busing themselves with investigations of each freshly dug heap of soil in a slow zig-zag meandering flight. Enjoying the unseasonably warm day I edged and weeded the beds - pulling out long stolens of the subterranian roots of couch grass as it wound its way through the beetroot and chard. Though growth is slowing the plot is still producing well and showing promise for the winter: the cabbages are hearting up, the sprouts are beginning to bud and the purple sprouting broccoli is starting to stand tall, although covered with those pesky whitefly. Does anyone know of an organic way to treat them?

Monday, August 23, 2010

jam today

There is something rather yesteryear about having an allotment and the act of picking ripe blackberries from the bramble bushes on the perimeter certainly provoked a stab of nostalgia. Pulling away the fruit, some of it so ripe that it immediately gave way on first touch, felt like the definition of high summer. Fingertips stained ruby pink with juice we ended up with a bag full of berries. The undergardener even tried his hand at jam-making as well as cooking up a batch of chutney from homegrown onions and marrow.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Cooling off

This visitor appeared when I was filling up the water butt. I've no idea how long he has been in there but the water level was so low that there was no possibility for escape. When the water neared the top I used a trowel to fish him out, fully expecting him to make a leap for freedom. Instead he sat happily on the trowel checking out the surroundings.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Red arrows

I keep seeing brief flashes of red as I am walking about. It's not that I need to get to the optician but that there are rather a lot of cinnabar moths about this month. Their scarlet and black wings mean that you might easily mistake them for butterflies. On the wing during the day they are seeking out ragwort plants on which to lay their eggs. The lottie seems to be providing a good playground.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

In the back of the net!

The World cup is well and truly underway which means that the under-gardener is a little distracted from his tasks. Nevertheless I did manage to prise him away from the screen this morning for a little help around the plot. Everything was in rude health, the potatoes are flowering, the chard and lettuce are thriving and the kale I planted out (under protection) is going from strength to strength. Even the peas and red cabbage have made a surprise recovery now that they are tucked away from the pigeons under the safety of some sturdy nets.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Stop the pigeon

Well someone is reaping the harvest of homegrown food. Unfortunately it isn't me. I'm blaming the wood pigeons as something of a feathered variety has scoffed the red cabbage, rocket and young pea plants. I have now netted the brassicas but I think this is a bit like bolting the proverbial stable door. The rocket will I'm sure grow back but I'm not confident about the peas making a recovery as they have been taken back to their stalks. I'll certainly be more careful when I plant out the next bed.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Bright spots

Every year plants appear on the plot which I have not sown or planted. Often, as my blog posts will document, these unplanned visitors are weeds. However, wild flowers also make an appearance pushing their way through in the grassy paths and quiet corners. Right now there are wild primroses, forget-me-knots, and bluebells lighting up the grass with pools of delicate blue and yellow.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Flights of fancy

Really enjoyed working on the allotment yesterday. With Iceland's volcano still erupting the only noisy traffic overhead was the honking of ducks flying to the nearby park. The recent good weather means everything is beginning to grow; the tulips were out, the rhubarb has shot up and the weeds are creeping in again... Dug over a bed and have sown some parsnips. I have never tried growing them before and understand that they can be slow to germinate so we'll have to see how this experiment goes.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Keep clear

Not a lot to report at the lottie. The winter cold has kept the plants in check so we have only just got the first blooms of Narcissus. Thankfully all that cold weather has also kept the weeds at bay, allowing a bit of time for a clear up of the beds. They are inspecting the plots this weekend so time for a bit more digging...

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Twelfth Night

Time to take the Christmas decorations down. Our tree is looking pretty dessicated after weeks in a room with the heating cranked up high. Meanwhile the trees outside are a perfect seasonal picture.