November 2007

This picture (click to enlarge) is of the planet M6-117 from the sci-fi horror movie Pitch Black, one of my favourites. The film is about a group of space travellers marooned on a planet which initially seems to be in non stop daylight. Unfortunately they’ve crash landed just before the period every 22 years when the planet is engulfed in darkness & the planet’s creatures (who understandably are a tad hungry) come out to play. The crew’s dwindling sources of light are the only chance of holding the creatures back. What’s that got to do with my allotment….?

Well, early in the month after my Tuesday evening game of squash with my son David I cycled up to the plot in the dark to get him some vegetables (after a shower he comes around for tea) & to test out one of my birthday presents, a head torch. There I was in the total darkness happy as Larry, hurrying around doing a few other small jobs before my wife might start to wonder where I’d got waylaid (or rather, knowing where I’d got waylaid). The head torch was really effective & I could easily imagine working away for hours as though it were daylight.

Then I started to think about Pitch Black. Realised that although I could see perfectly in front of me, not only could I not see a thing to the sides or back, but I must be really visible for some distance around. Decided it was time to go!

Here’s another picture to the right of a different kind of creature. The photo is appropriately slightly out of focus… that’s how it looked from my perspective as well after a couple of hours working in the pouring rain! At least I'm all kitted up, including two hats (gift from my mum next to the pate) to reduce loss of heat through being follicly challenged. It seems to have rained most of the month & made it difficult to progress on Project Cluck, the building of the chicken coop. But progress I’ve made, storing the wood I needed in the shed to keep it dry.

The result at the end of the month is shown in the picture to the left. The frame is all done, just need to put roof & floor in with the help Chris & his mega big battery powered circular saw (to cut up some marine plywood he gave me a while ago). The more observant readers amongst you may notice this doesn’t look quite like the elaborate coop I showed a picture of last month. In fact the end result has gone through 4 changes from when I initially did a scaled plan. Tried the triangular shape of last month but it looked like it was going to end up 20 feet tall. I’ve also finished the frame for the nesting boxes; see rest of pictures from this month at foot of this post.

There’s been progress on the extra plot at the back as well… in fact I’ve secured it at long last. The groundsmen have ploughed up the land ready for winter, as well as ploughing some extra plots to the front of the allotments. I’ve put some temporary posts (courtesy of Barry scrounging from a skip at Cambridge University, where he works) in as shown in the picture on the right.

Barry has plans to use part of the extra space for a vineyard to make wine. Plan is to buy some varieties in February, plant in spring & have gorgeous wine in a year or so. He’s been up with his compass & thinks we may need to move to another plot to get the right aspect… knew I should have put the shed on wheels!

Becky & Sammy paid another visit, bringing up an apple tree to plant. Beck helped me decide where to put the chicken run & we planted the tree in the middle of it to give them some shade. Picture on the left shows the site & the tree.

Have started harvesting the leeks… really tasty! Brought lots of plants from our garden into the shed to protect them from the frost. There’s been one ‘proper’ frost so far but the temperature in the shed stayed above freezing. Having turned one of the compost bins it was really satisfying to see it hot & steamy even on the coldest morning. Managed to get more weeding done so the plot looks the tidiest it’s ever done, particularly since the pathways have grassed over quite nicely.

Planted Angelica at the front of the plot, & potted up sweet peas into toilet roll tubes. Got stung by a wasp that had settled down for the winter in one of my garden gloves & didn’t take too kindly to me sticking my hand in.

Finally, went to see England play Croatia with my sons David & John on Wednesday 21-November. Great atmosphere at the new Wembley, as always. Pity about the England players’ lack of spirit resulting in them being out of the European Cup.

More photos below. Please feel free to leave a comment by clicking ‘Comment’ at the bottom of the page.

Thanks for reading my blog. John

This month's photos (click to enlarge)
Inside shed with wood kept dry... unfortunately most of nesting box frame is out of shot to bottom of picture
Vegetable bed where spinach,spring onions, chichory & lettuce are still growing
Partially dug bed at front of shed, where I'm intending to have a bit of a patio or decking with some nice flowers
Garlic progressing well... sometimes I ponder about lifting it next July in hot sunshine
And finally how the plot looks at the end of the month... slightly damp, & with the carpet that's been filling dips in the path finally coming up (I've been slippping on it a bit too regularly since it's been damp)

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