Tuesday, 28 May 2013
Killer Tomatoes Strike Back
There is always something to get your goat.
The man on the adjoining plot insisting on spraying the most odious and noxious liquid manure as you are settling down to a richly deserved green tea, scone, jam and cream.
The very attractive, if slightly nutty, young woman across the way who insists on singing as she weeds. The grumpy old man, who thinks his allotment should have won last year's "Best Kept Plot" award and doesn't mind telling anyone who mistakenly comes within ear shot.
The club secretary who you know has favourites; which is why you get a letter of concern about the state of your plot, but the couple across the path with a much worse kept plot than yours sail on undisturbed in their muckiness.
The agony when a crop of peas which promised so much, and which has been the subject of much comment and praise, curls up and dies for no reason whatsoever. The spring blossom on the pear and apple trees which produces no fruit on your plot but the manky stubs of an excuse for a fruit tree on your neighbour's produce a bumper crop.
Life on an allotment is not all cream teas and clinking glasses of a nice Sauvignon Blanc.
One has to rub along, if you can, except that bastard with his prize winning courgettes is insufferable, as is his wife in their Farrow and Ball'd potting shed.
The secretary has ordered the removal of all sharp instruments from the allotment. That is quite inconvenient, but possibly not as inconvenient as a swarm of coppers descending on the place after the murderous running through of an allotmenteer with a garden fork.
Such is life on a municipal, self managed allotment.
We have had a hard winter and an absent spring this year. Just as desperation, despair and despondency were about to settle on the site, the weather improved and everything started to move. The soil groaned as long dormant seeds and tubers registered that spring had arrived at last. The fruit trees first unfurled their leaf and then blossom appeared, late daffs and tulips entered stage right and chilly, frosted nights exited stage left.
The site, which during the long winter, was as the blasted heath, the earth as hard as the walls of Lord Asriel's "adamant" fortress, in the delayed spring sung like a nightingale in Berkeley Square. Trolls which had previously moved at a deathly pace during the long wintry twilight melted into gardeners marching as one with an intent and determination to toil and till, to wrench life back from the claggy grasp of the moribund soil.
Just as the allotment comes alive and we see the first fruits beginning to show above the parapet - theft!
It started in late March. A fellow plot holder, in some distress, disclosed that his patch of flat leaf parsley had be cut to the ground and removed. A few weeks later I had to report that my small patch of flat leaf parsley had been similarly beheaded (my curly parsley was untouched). Next, another raid: this time on a tub of mint - every leaf shorn from its stem in a most brutal fashion. And recently, twice in one week, one distraught plot holder had tomato plants snatched from his green house.
We have our suspicions, but no proof. The allotment site is awash with speculation. Notices threatening the direst of outcomes for anyone found stealing from fellow plot holders have appeared - signed in the blood of the allotment secretary. There is talk of a massive police presence, a 24 hour watch, electrifying the fences and placing CCTV throughout the site.
I've mounted Bren guns on the roof of my garden shed tied to a trip wire. Others have placed anti - personnel mines around their favourite vegetables. The allotment Committee are considering a suggestion to erect a gallows next to one of the water points. As someone pointed out, the sight of a corpse, eyes pecked out by the crows and guts gnawed by the rats, would be a positive disincentive as you filled your watering can.
I hear that the producers of "Rosemary and Thyme" are interested in visiting our site. I'm told they're hoping to make their series more life like. But that's just a rumour.