Sunday, 25 November 2012
Wednesday, 21 November 2012
Tuesday, 20 November 2012
"New rules coming into effect in December  mean it will soon be illegal for dealers to pay cash for scrap metal"
This will hopefully reduce the more organised allotment break-ins, the ones that pillage a site's sheds in search of spades and other metal tools. The report says that metal to the value of £770 million was stolen last year in the UK, costing the nation perhaps £25-£30m or more to replace.
Monday, 19 November 2012
Sunday, 18 November 2012
Saturday, 17 November 2012
"In Spring, spray [Glyphosate] when the new [couch grass] growth has reached a minimum 10-15cm (4-6in) high with each shoot having not less than four or five new leaves. Spraying at this stage of growth, in mild conditions when growth is active, will usually be very effective" [Royal Horticultural Society, on the best couch grass treatment]So that's now my new plan for dealing with the couch grass. I'll leave the top section (that's full of couch) until the Spring, then spray. Then I'll clear it off and fork it over after three weeks, bagging the dead roots up 'just in case'. That'll mean the top section of the plot won't really be plant-able until maybe the end of April or later, but it seems the best option for permanent eradication. Down in Stoke town, Pete and I noted a cool (but rather expensive at £69.99) proper weather station in the windows of the big Maplins electronics shop...
Thursday, 15 November 2012
* Quickly hoed the lower plot.* Divided and planted some chive clumps that I'd been given, before the frost gets them, and set them against the brick wall on the lower plot.
* Started a proper digging out of the weeds from the middle plot...
The penny has finally dropped about the top plot (of the three). There's a lot of couch grass in it. In a few dribs-and-drabs that couch grass has obviously been trying to get a first foothold in the top part of the middle plot. Thankfully there's a very solid two-brick barrier between it and the middle plot, which has prevented most of its "creep down". But there's a gap in the wall, at the end. So it looks like I'm going to have to wedge in some bricks along there, so as to make a basic continuation of the wall up to the path.Once the lower and middle plots are fully weeded, it might then be worth having a go at some of the top part of the allotment. Couch grass, and all. I'll at least try a basic forking out of the bulk of the couch grass there, up to the metal "H" frame. Then I'll perhaps unfold the carpet (which is currently acting as a "rain hat" for the bonfire) over it, and wait until the heat of the summer really bakes it. Then I'll peel it back and try another digging out of the roots, leaving them to wither in the heat. Finally I might put in some sort of late summer-starting crop that would smother any remaining grass growth. I don't plan to try runner beans in my first year on the metal "H" frame I have, so I'm thinking that a "wall" of some tall close-planted blue cornflowers might do well there. I've grown them before and they're fantastic in good soil, and get really tall. Strings could be run across the "H" frame at various heights, to support them.
Monday, 12 November 2012
"as an early potato they have a fine flavour, but if you leave them to mature, the tubers will grow big enough to turn into baking potatoes"
Monday, 5 November 2012
"...for a new, voluntary scheme to introduce a shorter working week, and for the rapid expansion of productive and pleasurable gardening in Britain's towns and cities." [my emphasis]
"Giving people entering new jobs (and, where possible, those in existing jobs) the option of working a four day week — something which is standard practice in the Netherlands, for example — brings potential multiple benefits to individuals, workplaces, communities, the environment and the economy."The pamphlet's 'old hippie'-isms aside, it's an interesting read. Although a Kindle version would have made it far more pleasant to contemplate than a PDF. It's obviously partly based on Google's 20% time practice. As the most efficient and advanced parts of the capitalist world become much more of a 'free-time society' in the coming Great Abundance, a great many citizens will need to find productive and useful things to do. Possibly unpaid. As the report says, we seem to be heading to a future where we will very likely need...
"a radical redistribution of paid and unpaid time"It's to be hoped that such a redistribution of time can be robustly tested first in the private sector, in an employee-led manner. Because if it isn't then the clop-hopping state may try to do it in some crisis-induced rush, and plunge us into an unwieldy "one size fits all" solution stuffed with middle managers and dubious IT contractors. The NEF's National Gardening Leave proposal runs alongside the recent policy proposal from Lord Bichard (that active pensioners should be asked to be socially useful in return for their pension money). Nice idea. But how to police it? A "gardening day" off has similar 'policing' problems. How is the employer to know that the employee isn't spending their "gardening" Fridays on clothes shopping and then stuffing themselves with cakes at Marks & Spencers? While paying young Kevin £5 an hour to tend the garden? One solution could be to open up the idea to all productive/useful 'fun' hobbies, on a social per-project basis. And I mean real hobbies, not gap-filling jobs for the state. Want to restore a windmill? You should be able to do that instead of pottering around the garden. By opening the idea up in this way, both the 'pensioner' and the 'lazy employee' activity-policing problems could be solved without the state. How? Via an autonomous Kickstarter-like service, in which people in a travel-region could pledge their skilled time (rather than money). Pledge your time to an independent openly-advertised project that has specific stepped goals. Useless project managers and no-show cake munchers would be shamed via a robust social ratings system and by video documentation. At the end of each year, the service (let's call it TimeSpring) would let you securely print a "social tax return" — this document would have official weight and would justify your Fridays off, or your pension top-up. The open social and video elements would: i) satisfy your employer that you've not been spending your Fridays off on retail-and-cakes therapy at the local Marks & Spencers; and ii) satisfy the taxpayer that you deserve your enhanced 'active and useful' old-age pension payments.
Above: Sue Law-Webb, "Life Cycle: Crossing the River of Oblivion".
Sunday, 4 November 2012
Friday, 2 November 2012
Thursday, 1 November 2012
I had thought I was going to get up to the allotment tomorrow — after a week away from the plot — but now it seems not. This afternoon I had to sit through a two-hour meeting in a freezing unheated room (no coffee, either), which seems to have brought the cold back, just as it was going away :-(