Monday, March 31, 2014

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Fire without smoke

           Meanwhile, a charcoal burner's been busy in a Dorset wood.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Beware the fires of March

There's always lots of woody waste at the allotment that won't compost or is best burned; prunings from fruit bushes, brassica, sweetcorn and sunflower stems, diseased material and old tomato vines. Allotment rules only permit bonfires between November and the end of March. After one of the wettest winters recorded, burning anything's been impossible until recently. Now everyone's at it.

Irritatingly, Plasticman - or The Fireman - as he shall be known, who has a plot 20 metres upwind, has a habit of burning plastic bags in an old bath. He sits there in his blue overalls right next to it. Instead of the not unpleasant waft of woodsmoke cut with a sharp sweet perfume from the Daphne odora bush against a background smell of earthy early spring, comes a toxic fume of pong. What's he like?

Monday, March 10, 2014

Intent to fruit

 One-year-old gooseberry bushes spring to life amongst the thorns.

 Plum blossom is the earliest of all.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Brassica oleracea italica

Sown last summer and protected from pigeons (and the snow that never came) beneath scaffolding netting, the purple sprouting broccoli has grown well and is ready to yield a first harvest.

 Just like the kale that it replaces as the green vegetable of the season, it responds well to being picked, produces new growth rapidly and is high in vitamin C content.

Dead easy to grow (even on a heavy clay soil), yummy with a bit of butter and a warm glow when you notice what it costs to buy.