Scarecrow in a white blouse

: Nicholas Bradley, Autumn 2004

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now evening, I’m out

on the allotment putting back on
the hat of a child’s scarecrow

for the show tomorrow.
I am the curator, the unseen

hand in the rain.. I’m singing
a Fool’s song from King Lear

when you appear, saying:
come and look at this one.

And you know, I don’t know how,
that Art is

this scarecrow-sylph
slipped in, with its pure poem

of being;
raffia cap,

arm at that angle,
Help The Aged bag.

You have to make a stand.

Nicholas Bradley, Autumn 2004

Frog on the Allotment

: Nicholas Bradley, 2004

It was a good sized frog.
As ever, that glistening motley

wash-leather skin – lemon, green,
yellow, black spots;

it went well with the garden leavings
piled up

with the rolled back old carpets,
April leaves, grass, roots in a heap,

it went under, blended in;

though water,
its skin matched the land colours.

At first I saw it, after a spade thrust,
spring up

then stop, elongate,
as if to show me itself,

unchopped, whole, no missing limb;

as if I’d have sense of it,
come from the beck,

and of where it fitted in.

Nicholas Bradley, 2004

The Dark Allotments, Early April

: Nicholas Bradley, 2004

When I got there

I saw eight magpies on one plot,
one perched on a cane or a pole,

they let me get quite near;
it was raining, no-one else

around. I guess the wrens
and long ago hoards of small birds

are edged out. I half hate
these big survivors, half love

their beauty when I see them,
close, by the four foot pink

and off-pink bush; what is it?

I got digging, the odd whinny
of a horse was all this inner city

garden had on its grey six-thirty
soundtrack, as slowly the church

and houses on the hill
sank below street lights;

I had to get out.

Nicholas Bradley, 2004

Make Your Own Seed and Potting Compost

Make your own seed and potting composts …

You can make your own organic, peat-free seed and potting composts using leaf mould, garden compost and loam. You can make it up as you need it, in large or small quantities. Leaf mould needs to stand for two years. Loam is basically just good garden soil. If you are bothered by weed seedlings you can pasteurise the loam at 80 degrees C for about half an hour. I just pull the weeds up.

The recipes are by volume: shovel-fulls, scoops, or whatever.

  • Sowing compost: 1 part sieved leaf mould + 1 part sieved loam.
  • Potting compost: 1 part sieved leaf mould + 1 part sieved loam + 1 part sieved garden compost.
  • Tomato compost: 3 parts loam + 1 part leaf mould + 1 part garden compost or manure.

Joe Foster

Compost Heaps

Gillian North’s recipe for success!

Use lots of nettles or comfrey to activate and provide extra nutrient in the form of trace elements. Layers of shredded bark also aids decomposition. Intersperse with grass cuttings.

Gillian North

Potatoes

Extend the season for earlies and avoid blight on maincrops…

Plant just one short row of earlies as soon as conditions allow in order to get your first new potatoes of the season. Then plant maincrop and second earlies so they have a long growing season before blight strikes. Continue with the rest of the earlies, staggering the planting so not all are ready at once.

Gillian North

Sowing Seeds

Gillian’s ‘three for one’ planting tip…

Sowing: It is necessary to sow three seeds, or plant three plants – one for the slugs, one for the weather and one for yourself. If the first two survive, they can go to the annual bring and buy sale.

Gillian North

Onion Sets

Gillian’s tip for getting the most from your onions and garlic.

Always buy twice as many as you think you will need and either plant all closely or plant half in a separate bed one inch apart. Thin out or pull when large enough to use as spring onions from late April or early May onwards. Continue using as large spring onions and young ‘green’ onions. Delicious at any size and much sweeter and juicier than fully ripened onions. Also, start using some garlic young and green in late June. This is when it is at its best.

Gillian North

Eating Nasturtiums

Yes, really!

The Nasturtium is said to have sprung from the blood of a Trojan warrior. The blossom symbolised his golden helmet and the round leaf his shield. It is a close relation of watercress, which explains why its leaves make such a tasty addition to salads. The seeds of this creeping, twining plant when pickled make a good substitute for capers.

Gillian North