Slow painting

Monday 30 November 2009

St Andrew's Day - allotment style

Even allotments fly the Scottish flag, albeit in a tattered state. A bit like the rest of allotment life - determined but a bit ragged round the edges.

A national holiday today, and of course more fireworks this evening. That's two lots in seven days here. We could perhaps have a rest from pyrotechnics until Hogmanay..

Saturday 28 November 2009

Still green

The green manure is still green. And downy. It was only when I was up close to it yesterday, with the low sun slanting across the leaves, that I noticed the fine hairs on the leaves of the red clover.

Lots of lovely nitrogen fixing going on. I will definitely sow clover again. The other green manure I tried this year - field beans - not so sure, since they didn't give the blanket effect I was after, and were a pain to dig in. Mind you, I haven't tried digging in the clover yet.

Friday 27 November 2009

After the gales

It could have been worse. The frame supporting the netting was still standing firm, and our shed was untouched. The plot next door wasn't so fortunate. They have a classic allotment shed put together from offcuts and old doors, and the recent gales tore away one whole side. I didn't take a photo. It seemed a touch voyeuristic.

I found a stout stake to replace the cane that this plant had been tied to, and tied the stake to the metal frame to make doubly sure. Although the ground was still sodden from all the recent rain, I couldn't push the stake in very far even with leaning all my body weight on it. I would have needed a man with a mallet (as opposed to a woman with a chainsaw - anyone else know that campfire song? 'I need a woman with a keep me warm at night').

As these things do, the date has embedded itself in photos I've taken over the past couple of days. It must have happened when I fumbled with my camera in the dark while considering whether to try to take a photo of the 'lighting of the Christmas tree fireworks' yesterday. I've spent a frustrating hour this afternoon reading the camera manual and discovering how to embed the date, but not how to reverse the steps to un-embed it. Eventually, by dint of my favourite technique when dealing with anything mechanical - random prodding of buttons (which drives my family crazy), I seem to have got rid of it. Until the next time.

Poor neglected allotment. Bad weather, extreme activity in schlepping daughter and harp and violin around the place in the run-up to Christmas, and general November lethargy mean that it's further down the priority list at the moment.

Saturday 14 November 2009

Skywatch Friday - portents

Sunday's blue skies began to change as I worked at the allotment. To the south, all was cloudless and calm, but to the north mares' tails appeared. I felt a sense of foreboding, and checked the netting over the broccoli in the face of what I was sure would be wild weather overnight. The broccoli is coming along well, protected from the pigeons this year.

On my walk home the eastern sky was full of portents too. I was even more certain that we were in for a stormy night.

But Monday morning came with the first white frost of the year, and my first thought on seeing it was that I didn't have my frost-loving winter planting garlic in yet. My second thought was relief - at last some seasonable weather.

More skies around the world are at Skywatch Friday.

Monday 9 November 2009


Unlike last week when all was dark and sodden, this Sunday was blue skies, sunshine and glowing colours. I'd resolved not to do any work at the allotment, because I'd been working all morning in the garden. With a ferocious pace at work just now I knew I needed a few hours on Sunday afternoon just to read, rather than to be in perpetual motion all weekend.

But it was impossible not to do just a little bit of tidying up. I thought the dill should come out, and then I could tackle the field beans, and before I knew it I'd been working for an hour. Just before I pulled out the dill I took this last shot of its autumn glory. After that I broke off the stems of the field beans and left the roots in the soil. Next week, if it's fair, I'll dig over that part of the plot and let the roots rot down and keep their nitrogen in the soil.

At home I finally managed to plant out the wallflowers I'd been bringing on from tiny plug plants. In the spring they'll be a fragrant lemon and orange splash of colour alongside scarlet and yellow tulips. The copper tape round the pots had successfully repelled snails and slugs, so I'll definitely use that again. I just love that extra touch of the sharp points along the bottom edge!

But oh dear, look at what I found poking through the soil.

Crocuses. In November, in Scotland. Wrong.

Sunday 1 November 2009


Why, on a day of non-stop rain, did I squelch along to the allotment? Rain pooling in every slight hollow in the soil. Everything sodden, and no-one else in sight.

This shot has come out much brighter than it actually was. We had lights on indoors all day, and by 3 o'clock daylight was fading.

The path through the trees shows it like it was.

But I needed some chard for tonight's meal, and having made up my week's menu it was somehow easier to plod out in the soaking rain than to think of an alternative. In the end, I was glad I'd done it.