Summer 2021 potato harvest

My Lucifer has flowered!

What a sentence to open with. I’m delighted because it’s one of my favourite plants and I didn’t know if it’d take to my allotment.

More importantly, today was the day to harvest the potatoes. I don’t really have many FAQs because nobody asks me about anything, but on at least one occasion I’ve heard people wondering how you know when potatoes are ready to harvest. Excitingly, the two main ways I can tell are illustrated in the varieties I grew this year (Cara and Ratte).

Here’s Ratte (a French variety that tastes delicious, I’ve grown it a couple of times before and it’s never let me down, I’d highly recommend it). You can see on the left there that the greenery has started yellowing and dying away, which is always a good sign that you can start harvesting. There’s no harm in leaving them in the ground a little longer, or digging as and when until the frost comes, I just dug up everything in one go this time because I’m a busy woman.

Here’s Cara, which as we know, is the Irish word for friend, and potatoes are my friends. This variety produces the quite frightening potato fruit, the weird green things to the right. These are poisonous so I’ve put them to one side for getting revenge on my enemies, which for legal purposes is a joke. But yes, if you can see flowers or the terrifying and dreaded potato fruit, that’s a sign you can start harvesting. This variety’s high-yield and good for baking.

I’ve put in green manure seeds right away to try and add nutrients to the soil. The buckwheat will be interesting given it doesn’t like heavy soil and my allotment is basically made entirely of heavy soil but I’m kind of experimenting with different types of green manure to see what works well – mustard’s been pretty standard so far.

I also bought more seed potatoes (Carlingford and Gemson) to go where I’ve just harvested the onions and garlic, meaning I’ll ideally be eating my own potato-based products well into the new year. If it was biologically possible to grow only potatoes, I’d probably be doing that, but I’m trying to respect the 4-year rotation system so as not to suck all the nurients out.

Meanwhile the onion and garlic continue to dry, terrifying visitors. I finally had some success with the peas and sweetpeas, which I’m growing all together like some lord of chaos.

I had a lovely week away in Scotland and came back to see that despite my excellent work with my new sickle, the weeds were gaining the upper hand. I don’t mind, I got my results from this diploma in Irish I’ve been doing for the last couple of years and I got a First, which made me happy. I’d never got a First in anything really, and I’d been struggling a lot with both my confidence in speaking Irish and with the practicalities involved in studying it as an academic subject, and this has been a confidence boost that’s helped pull me out of a depressive pit where I’ve just been eating pizza for a couple of months. On which note:

Loosely adapted from this recipe and with added peas (home-grown) and cherry tomatoes (not home-grown because they’re still ripening). I like this time of year, when I’m forced to eat healthily because it would be a waste not to. If anyone knows what I can do with 10,000 globe artichokes (OK, 20+), give us a shout.

2021 garlic harvest

Forgot my lunch on the allotment today, but it did not matter because hark, the strawberries are here:

My hayfever’s been playing up this year so I’m typing this through a haze of sneezes. The strawberries are not all I have harvested, behold also my radishes:

There’s a few other things looking promising too – although I’d been worried about the potatoes, I think I can start taking them up in a couple of weeks. Artichokes aka the one thing I’ve had success at every year are doing well, broad beans and onions will probably be ready at around the same time, and the edamame is…still alive, which is good I suppose? I’ve never tried growing edamame before so it’s kind of an experiment. The peas are finally getting there as well and the fennel’s also still alive although small.

I’m delighted to report that I’ve invested in a sickle, which is hopefully being delivered next week. I wanted a traditional sickle so that I could combine it with my hammer but stupid common sense took over, and I went for a more modern design with a foldaway blade so it can be more easily stored. We’ll see how I get on with it, it will hopefully be a faster way of cutting down the weeds on the uncultivated bits of the allotment (which is around 25% of the total because I am only one highly-caffeinated woman).

I’m pleased with the garlic harvest this year, I think it was disappointed when I last tried to grow it, and I’d been worried that there hadn’t been enough rain (or, to put it another way, that I had been too lazy to water it adequately), but it seems to have turned out fine, and now I get to put the garlic in a basket that I personally wove in order for it to try, something which is wholesome and pleasing to me amid the general sea of angst that’s inside my skull currently. Currently unsure what to plant in place of the garlic although the internet provides me with wisdom – it’s possible I’ll add compost, keep it covered, and plant late season potatoes in a month or two, since I only started two varieties in spring. Same might apply to the onions, which I’m taking up next weekend. Actually the more I think about it, the more that makes sense, I eat a lot of potatoes and would like to have a steady supply for the rest of the year.

I’ve had a few cucumbers recently too (they forgave me for being away and not leaving them with enough water). Tomato plants are both massive but no clear signs of tomatoes forming just yet, even though I’ve been putting them outside to get sunlight and moving them inside again at night like a couple of spoiled princelings. I went to Aldi to buy burgers this morning and came back with this beautiful, healthy aubergine plant (first left), it was only £3.75 and I’ve named it ‘Denmark’, for some reason. It will live with the two spoiled tomato plants and maybe teach them humility.

The apple saplings might have to be the subject of another post because I need to go and source local honey and dip my head in it, or whatever it is I’m meant to be doing about hayfever, but the short version is, they’re massive. I am scared. I had not thought that they’d be so big when, in February, they were mere seeds in my fridge. I’m not really sure of what I’ll do with them – a couple of them in particular measure around a metre now. I will work it out once I’ve got over this sneezing fit.

Pointing at potatoes

Potatoes are growing incredibly slowly this year, and because I’m an impatient and illogical kind of person, I’ve just taken to furiously pointing at them and threatening them until they take heed. More effective ways of dealing with this scenario would include ‘feeding them’, ‘earthing up properly’, ‘watering them more’, and ‘weeding more’.

It’s not all terrible though. I planted fennel seedlings today, having successfully manage to resist the temptation to plant them any earlier. We’ve had very sunny weather and it’s due to stay that way for the next week or so, so I thought it’d be a good time. The seedlings themselves look a bit weak and dubious but who knows, I’m always surprised by what grows and what doesn’t on the allotment.

I’ve been having so much trouble with peas this year, which is a shame because I thought they were my friends and that I could rely on them, but I suspect rabbits are eating them and I haven’t kept them out effectively enough. Part of me thinks ‘well, the rabbits are allowed food if they want food’, but this mutual aid approach to gardening is going to leave me with an unimpressive harvest.

The radishes and strawberries look reasonably promising though, so I’m not hanging up the gardening gloves just yet. This is rainbow radish, sort of in honour of Pride, mostly because that was the type of radish I had seeds for, but any small thing you can do to show solidarity with marginalised communities is a good thing in my book.

I’m doing a bit better with indoor veg (following the Incident We Don’t Talk About where I poisoned almost all my seedlings by failing to dilute the feed enough, then cried and spent the day replacing them all). The apple saplings are growing at a slightly frightening rate and provoking an existential crisis because what am I doing to do with five portable trees when my living situation is precarious? And the tomatoes and cucumbers that survived The Incident look quite happy and don’t seem to resent me for killing their brothers and sisters. It’s IMPORTANT we talk about gardening fails even when we’ve been at this for years.

And that’s roughly it, really. I’ve been able to get out and about a bit more since I last posted. I got the first vaccine and felt awful for a week, and because I like to just refuse to accept I ever need rest, decided to walk over the Scottish border the next week. It’s the most ambitious solo hike I’d attempted but I managed it and I’m pretty pleased. And I also managed to see friends! Real human people! I want to do more of that, even if this results in an increase in the weed population on the allotment.

Oh! And for those of you who would like to see me IN ACTION trying to TACKLE THOSE WEEDS, you can see a fun video of just that here. I was asked to talk in Irish about my life during lockdown about because around half my life is gardening, that’s just what I discuss. I also call for insurrection at some point before briskly changing the subject, which is quite on brand. I will be accepting no constructive criticism on my weeding technique.

Intense exam avoidance

I have exams coming up in a couple of weeks so obviously I ignored this and spent 5 hours on the allotment instead. I decided that I’m going to start flying flags while I’m in residence. The thing to remember when you’re decorating your allotment is that subtly should never be a priority.

Anyway, it’s mostly weeding at the moment. I’m locked in a battle of wills with myself to not start the fennel off too early. It’s only April. It will die if I start it too early. I know this, and yet there’s a 50% chance I’ll have planted the seeds next week because of my fear of running out of time. I went a bit overboard with windowsill planting:

I do not really like courgettes but here they are with their superior cousins, the cucumbers. I took a few of them and put them with the lone cauliflower in the weird structure I made.

You wouldn’t think I actually plan my allotment out, really. I make a plan and then never, ever stick to it. But yeah, gaze upon this weird thing I made and weep. Some of the sticks holding up the weird structure are stalks from last year’s artichokes, thus saving me money on Wilko’s green and weak sticks. Talking of artichokes:

I’d been neglecting them on the assumption that they’re somehow immortal and would be able to withstand all the weeds but look at that little guy in the middle, he needs help, just like we all do under this government. I weeded the area and then planted mustard. Unsure whether this is wise but I imagine the artichokes suck a fair amount of nutrients from the soil and having green manure nearby would help, and more importantly, keep the weeds down. I say ‘I imagine’ like I don’t have a whole pile of gardening books, or the capacity to google these things, but experimentation is fun, isn’t it comrades.

My hand tools never last very long. My allotment neighbours use machinery of some kind and I’ve been wondering about asking them whether I can borrow theirs, but this would require a level of social interaction I’m fundamentally unprepared for, given a year of isolation and the relatively poor starting position I was in. There were roadworks on the pavement the other day and the sign said that you had to wait for the workmen to escort you through the site, but I just turned around and went a different way because I was not ready to have any kind of conversation with humans. That’s what we’re dealing with.

It is OK though because I took some daffodils that weren’t meant to be there and displaced them for my own gain, much like the government does with human beings.

Here’s a view of the allotment (with three beds nearest me missing because yes, the allotment’s too big to photograph – the beds contain kale, garlic and one day, fennel). The raspberries to the right have been incredibly unhappy with me since I pruned them a bit too heavily a year or two ago, so we’ll see if they come back. I wouldn’t mind starting anew with them, actually – the white raspberries were a bit disappointing taste-wise, although I liked growing both spring and autumn raspberries together. Norbert the strawberry tree is doing incredibly well and I’m cautiously optimistic that we’ll get fruit from him this year, but more on that story as it develops.

Incromulent weather

It was sunny, the day was young, I’d had eight glasses of wine; it was time to go onto the allotment.

I was a fool

We’d had snow but I thought it was safe. It was not safe. Every time I tried to go outside, a hailstorm started. I almost thought it was me that was doing it, before remembering it’s probably more to do with governments and major corporations across the world failing to take any action on climate change.

She persisted though didn’t she. Most of the stuff I wanted to plant has been planted, with the exception of the fennel. I put in sprout seedlings too yesterday so it’ll be interesting to see whether they’ve survived the snow. This little lad’s not looking very happy despite the weird structure I built for him:

I’d been fairly sure I’d ordered 5 cauliflower plantlings but apparently, he’s on his own. I hope he makes it. I had a lot of trouble ordering seeds and seedlings this year owing to global events, so it was probably my mistake. At least there’s still plenty of room for the random plants I always seem to acquire throughout the growing season despite having had no plans to grow them.

Here are the apple and cucumber seedlings. I’m growing three types of cucumbers, including the ornamental ones I don’t remember ordering, although only one seed’s germinated of that variety so far. I don’t even know what an ornamental cucumber is, why would anything be so pointless? A question I often ask myself when watching news updates from the prime minister. In terms of the apples, the five seedlings I have are thriving (pictured here with some further random things I’m growing – tomatoes, maybe yet another cucumber, carrots that I already know will fail). I didn’t expect them to grow so fast and I’m worried because I feel that I’d have to plant them in a place I know I’m going to be staying in because of my emotional connection with them. Obviously if my life had turned out as I’d planned and I owned a home with a pretty garden and adjacent farm, I could happily plant apple trees, but with things as they are, they might just have to put up with a nomadic lifestyle for a bit.

A weed that is actually the size of a small baby

Here’s about 2/3 of my massive allotment that’s too big to be photographed – it’s not very impressive crops-wise at this time of year (and you can’t see the sloe hedge or the fruit trees), but I’m feeling almost on top of the weeding after a mere 8 hours spent doing just that, and it’s not often I feel that way. If anyone has tips on nomadic apple seedlings, please feel free to share!

Allotment plan 2021

First of all I have some good news on my little apple seedlings:

There’s five of the little lads! And I have five siblings so obviously I’ve named them after each of them. Cerys was looking weak and droopy but I think I overwatered her so I rectified that and added some coffee grounds. Now they are growing each day, here they were this morning:

I’m pleased with 5 to be honest, that’s roughly in line with the 30% germination rate and it gives me some room for messing up, which given that I casually smashed a glass by tiredly kicking it off a table last week, I need.

I have an excuse anyway, I had laser eye surgery 1.5 weeks ago and everyone’s been nice to me as if I was actually ill instead of just wanting improved vision. Overall I’m OK although the recovery’s been a bit more complex than expected and I keep having to make 3-hour round trips into my nearest city to have the eyes checked again. Next week will be the sixth check-up since surgery and although nobody’s to blame, I’m a bit fed up with it because I’m supposed to be planting things at this time of year! Why do these eye scientists not understand the ways of the land. But look, I got pretty flowers:

I don’t regret the surgery or anything, I’m just grumpy because my routine is ‘go hiking and do gardening’ given the relative impossibility of doing anything else these days and 0 doctors agree that hiking and gardening constitute taking it easy. BUT planning your allotment, comrades, that does:

I’ve been using the same planning template since 2015, I use quite high-tech software called ‘MS Paint’, not sure anyone would understand if I explained. But it does the job even if it doesn’t look elegant. So far, the potatoes, kale, onions and garlic are in, placed very carefully and gently in the soil so I didn’t get any in my stupid delicate eyes.

Nobody has ever looked so cool while planting potatoes

I failed miserably with fennel last year so I’m giving that another go. Never tried elephant garlic so that’ll be interesting, and I might grow more normal garlic if e.g. the fennel fails again. I really love having the sweetpeas and peas close together, growing up frames I make from bamboo, it’s looked great in previous years. This is the first year I don’t have Lord Leicester peas, which were my go-to type, which is a bit of a shame. The UK government is trying to curb the right to protest and this is the best group I know that are fighting against them, join them because we have to fight this. I like the idea of growing wild garlic but of course the nature of it is that it’s wild; I’d thought of borrowing some next month when it’s everywhere and growing it on in pots so it doesn’t take over the allotment? It’s quite a garlic-heavy year I suppose but I’ve always had a flexible approach to crop rotation. I don’t grow anything I don’t personally eat (it’s a shame I hate rhubarb because it’d cover so much space) and I think keeping it down to two potato varieties this year was a good call given the convention that you’re meant to leave it 3-4 years before growing potatoes on the same patch, since there aren’t many patches in which potatoes haven’t been grown.

I’ve started off the cucumbers indoors too – upside of being stuck indoors is that I can check on my seedlings like a nervous mother throughout the day:

The word ‘burpless’ amused me and that’s the sole reason I’m growing that variety. I’m also growing another variety, the name of which I forget, and for some mysterious reason I have ornamental cucumbers too? I don’t remember ordering them because I prefer my cucumbers to be edible and not decorative but maybe it was a free gift of some kind. In any case, I decided to plant them and see what happens because I like living my life on the edge.

My grandmother’s apple tree

What would a gardening blog be without a folksy tale about an apple tree?
So many years ago, when I was around 12, my grandma decided to give me an apple tree. I did not know why she had done this because my interests when I was 12 included ‘wearing a lot of black’ and did not include gardening. However,  *cough* 20 years on, turns out she was right and I actually love gardening AND wearing black.
We planted the apple tree in our garden and there she grew.

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I also grew, although not quite as high as the apple tree. And after around 18 years, we started to get apples! Large and delicious apples.

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But alas! The Mother sold up and moved away and digging up and transporting apples trees to new places isn’t a thing normal people do, nor is it kind to the apple tree in question. I was sad, rootless and disorganised. The ongoing global pandemic has given me the unique opportunity to have several existential crises at once and I didn’t get the chance to get cuttings. I left my childhood home for the last time with an envelope of hastily-collected apple seeds (and a tear in my eye) (several tears in both eyes).

Then I did research into growing apple trees from seed, and the advice was more or less entirely ‘don’t grow apple trees from seed, you idiot’. This is why it’s best to do research prior to stuff like this. But I thought I’d make the best of it and see what happened anyway. I found a good article about the practicalities involved and learnt that the best way to think of it would be that any new apples trees would be the offspring, rather than a replica, of the original. The apples might taste horrible. The germination rate is only about 30%. The odds are all against me.

I’m a communist so I’m used to this. I started the cold stratification process and put the seeds I’d collected on some wet kitchen towel, in plastic bags, in my fridge.

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The seeds chilled there for 6 weeks and then it was time to put them in soil. I had exactly enough to fill a seed tray, and I love it when that happens. Put the seed tray in my windowsill assuming this would all be a waste of time, but it’s not like I’m doing much else, given the ongoing global pandemic.

And lads, look at what happened.

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She might just be one seedling. She might not make it. She might not even produce very nice apples. If she does, it won’t be for decades. But lads, she’s there. And during this, the Global Panettone, I’m grateful for any manifestation of hope whatsoever.

So I hope you enjoyed this whimsical tale about my grandmother’s apple tree. Ideally, if I ever become a grandmother, I’ll be giving my own terrified grandchildren plant cuttings on a regular basis too, and inspiring them to grow their own food, given that by that point, capitalism will’ve crumbled entirely and they’ll have no other choice.

The allotment planning continues and may be the subject of a separate post, I’m resisting the usual temptation to plant everything too early. We have extremely sunny weather at the moment but it was only 2 weeks ago that everything was covered in snow, so I’m holding off until mid-March. The potatoes are happily chitting though:

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I’m only doing two types this year, Cara for my general potato needs and Ratte for taste. I’ll be taking no comments on why I have a plate with Ystads Arbetarekommun on it or a bell with Our Lady on it; my varied household object demonstrate the many facets of my insanity.

Finally, have a picture of my dog for no good reason:

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Hasta la victoria siempre

I thought today would be a good day to start taking the potatoes up.

To the left we’ve got Sarpo Kifli, and to the right we’ve got our trusty old Carolus.  I wasn’t too thrilled with the yield in either case but I suppose it’s fairly early days yet, and we’ve got to remember there’s an upper limit to the amount of potatoes I can eat. On which more later. Also dug some of the Salad Blue:

They don’t look too attractive when unwashed but I like the fact that they have these (highly poisonous) berries to tell you when you can start digging them. I’ve noticed some of the Sarpo Kifli greenery’s started to die away, another sign it’s time for me to start harvesting.

Not sure what it is about my allotment and artichokes but they’re the one thing I’ve never had trouble growing, and they’re massive – you can see my hand on the photo to the left there and my hands are roughly average size. If anyone has ideas for what to do with artichokes other than de-spike, boil and then eat the bracts, I’d like to hear them. I always leave a few to turn into flowers before cutting them back for the winter. I’m glad to have them – 5 tiny plants are now taking up a reasonable amount of space and keeping the weeds down, which I’m hugely grateful for at this time of year.

Fruit’s doing OK this year too – I need to put more effort into making sure the non-wild strawberries have somewhere to grow properly and ensuring the wild ones don’t take over, but they’re all delicious. The raspberries weren’t happy with me after I cut them back, so I didn’t get any last season, but they’re showing signs of forgiving me.

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All my peas got eaten by rabbits quite early on in the season so, living out the true definition of insanity, I just replanted them, took no anti-rabbit measures, and anticipated different results. So far the second batch of peas remains uneaten but they’ve got a lot of growing to do. My go-to peas, the Lord Leicesters, have always survived right into late October so I’m cautiously optimistic.

Talking of rabbits, they also ate around half the fennel, the hoppy little rascals, but I’m pleased some of it’s survived and it’s looking healthy.

I’ve been obsessed with this idea of getting hens. Especially if I had a chicken tractor – they’d have plenty of space to move around, they’d keep the weeds down, I’d have eggs, we’d all be happy. There’s a farm near me that does pick ‘n’ mix hatching eggs and also takes hens in while you’re on holiday and it’s really tempting, but I’ve concluded I can’t really do it at this point in my life. Even if I had low-maintenance hens, they’re still a daily commitment and I travel a lot (pre-plague, anyway). But one day, I think it’d be good to have some around. Silkies are my favourites from all the research I’ve done although I’d be worried whether they’d survive damp Northumbrian winters.

There’s this stereotype of allotmenteers, in Britain at least, that we’re generally quite middle class, and I mean – fair in my case. It feels weird to me, someone with time and money to put into growing food as a hobby, to be sharing these photos of relatively abundant crops when there are people in my town who struggle to buy food each week. And this isn’t something that’ll improve, with the Global Circumstances being what they are and the government being what it is. So let me talk a little about Community Larders, comrades.

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It’s a simple enough idea, based on the principle of mutual aid. Our group’s trying to actively involve allomenteers:

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So there’s a chance that I’ll be filling a phone box with potatoes if the yield improves later on (or using the money I save from growing my own food to buy non-potato items for the Community Larder). It’s not how I anticipated 2020, friends. But I don’t think the year’s working out as any of us had really planned, and I’m worried we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the impact this’ll have of people who are already struggling thanks to Tory austerity. It’s worth doing, at any rate, even if it only feels like a small thing.

Limits of the allotment are the limits of my world

I’m lucky to have the allotment given The Circumstances and I’m finding that it’s pretty much my whole world now, because beyond that I’ve only got work, volunteering, and my failed attempts to befriend the local avian populace.

It kind of all hit me at once last week. Everyone’s finding it hard and I don’t really want to add too much to the collective pile of online complaints about this horrific situation we’re all in, but I had my isolated lockdown birthday and kept thinking how long it’s been since I actually saw my family and friends, and how it could be months until I see any of them again. Keeping busy and distracted is OK as coping mechanisms go, and very much what I’ve been doing for decades anyway to try and navigate through the horrors of neo-liberalism, but sometimes you’re just tired and you miss your mam a bit.

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My sadness did not prevent me from eating the whole cake though

It could be much, much worse. My world’s shrunk, so I’m trying to focus on the good bits, and look, soon I’ll have lettuce.

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And I spent several hours yesterday appreciating the fact that my hair looked unusually good.

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And I had onions (Rumba) delivered in the post so I put them in yesterday. I’d miscalculated the space I’d need, something you’d think I’d be better at by now, so I’ll need to figure out where I’m putting the swedes, if I end up growing them at all. Possibly close to the fennel with some more lettuce forming a buffer zone, but I’ll have to check that this’ll be OK with the fennel, which I understand to be a picky and skittish vegetable when it comes to companions (same, to be fair). I’m trying to get better at demarcation as well (it’s been 5 years and I’m still on the basics) in my quest to gain ground on the weeds.

I went to pick wild garlic on the way to the allotment today. Normally I’d do this on our local Duke’s land, because it entertains me to pretend I’m poaching. Currently our local aristocracy are nowhere to be seen, disappearing during an emergency as the rich are wont to do, meaning their land’s all closed off, but I did at least have the added excitement of wondering whether an overzealous member of the public would call the police on me. They didn’t, and I went full middle-class and made it into pesto using this recipe, which was the first one I found.

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It’s delicious and actually saved me money for a change, and means I won’t have to go to the supermarket for another few days. I’ve also been collecting recipes including nettles, since they make up roughly 60% of my allotment now. We’ve all heard of nettle soup, but what about NETTLE SPANAKOPITA, WHERE IS YOUR GOD NOW.

My attempts to make friends with birds in the absence of humans might not have failed totally, either. I was about to add stuff to the compost heap today when I met her:

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I didn’t want to get closer – her unwillingness to fly away immediately made me think she’s nesting in there, which is wholesome and nice. The compost heap itself isn’t wholesome or nice – I’ve been meaning for ages to invest in one of those heated compost bins that breaks everything down really fast, but they cost hundreds of pounds and since I’ve had many thefts before, I didn’t want to risk losing it. The woolly stuff to the right of the picture is from packaging, and the vague idea I have is to keep that on the outside to insulate the heap, and then add things like coffee grounds and apple cores to the middle. I drink a lot of coffee, so that makes up much of the heap. Isn’t it cool though, if she is nesting there? I’ll have to give the compost heap a wide berth but I’ll keep an eye on her.

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And that’s my week, really. I still have fennel and swedes to plant but other than that (and occasional salad top-ups), I’m on top of things. I keep dreaming of all the travelling I’m going to do once I’m able, but until then, the allotment’s a 10/10 distraction.

State-sanctioned allotment work

Well friends, how are we all doing? Michael Gove says it’s still ‘perfectly sensible’ to go to allotments, which is a great relief. I think it’s ‘perfectly sensible’ to ensure we have an adequately-funded National Health Service so that we don’t crumble in times of crisis after years of Tory austerity, but that’s just me, maybe.

 

I thought of a fun allotment game people like me can play, i.e. people who will only be having contact with an allotment for the foreseeable future.
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Basically I’m doing a sunflower race, one sunflower for each of my hilariously numerous siblings. Thought this would be a nice way of staying in touch with them in some way, even if it’ll be months before I get to see them properly.

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I’m sabotaging things so that the siblings who are in favour with me currently stand a better chance of winning the sunflower race.

 

There isn’t a huge amount to see on the allotment at the moment, although I know I’ll be spending a while there (finally taking my own advice of doing a little at a time and doing it often). The daffodils are looking pretty and I planted parsnips and spring onions today. I’ve been thinking of introducing wild garlic to the allotment (I used to forage on our local Duke’s land because it felt like I was robbing the wealthy and that appealed to me, but he’s closed all his parks to the public now), but I need to do more research on whether that’d work.

I find I work for longer if I listen to my Good Playlist. I’m from the past so I still use an MP3 player (I’m relentlessly mocked for this but ACTUALLY it makes sense not to use your phone if you’re flinging mud everywhere), but it’s your lucky day, I’ve rendered it in an accessible format here. I discovered that angrier music helps me tackle weeds more effectively.

It is deeply weird taking my one state-sanctioned walk through my town. I’m doing alright personally – my therapist rang to check in with me and was surprised that my anxiety levels have gone down, I guess because anxiety’s a state of emergency in your own head all the time, so an actual emergency that other people can see feels like solidarity.

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I’m going to have a really strange birthday in a week or so too. It’s just weird to think that I don’t know when I’ll next have a face-to-face conversation with someone I know. In the general scheme of things, this isn’t huge, so I’m not complaining. I’m luckier than most really.

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But comrades, there’s no way but through. I find that looking at endless pictures of my dog helps (this is actually a picture of a dog, not e.g. a ball of wool or a badger gone wrong). And if you’re bored, and it helps, why not make a nice window display? And join your local mutual aid group.

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