Before I can dream of artichokes…

It has been a day of paths and bark chips – lugging and hugging for dear life the heavy 70 litre packs from the car park to the plot. All three of them in staggering loads. And halfway through the lovely process of smoothing the chips over the weed proof membrane I have realised I’m going to need at least four more bags to cover the paths.  It will look fine mind you. Or rather, normal. The bark looks to blend in with the soil so it’s not such a shock.

I wanted to keep on the heavy duty plastic that I bought rather then the weaker cloth ones, but naturally I hadn’t quite calculated the quantities. So I lifted up some of the membrane at the top end (near the apple trees) to see if I could cannibalise a portion.. And underneath I was pleased to see that the weeds have died back somewhat. I naturally couldn’t resist pulling some of it out. But it looks to me like it will need another bout of the dread glyphosate, or just cover the whole damn thing for a few months more. But secretly I want to have that area for either flowers or fruit. So it would be wonderful to get that sorted.

The social whirl continues. It’s great that they only come singularly, as I would never remember all the allotmenteers names. First up was a visit from Raymondo (one plot up and over towards the back). He was heading to the shop in search of the skip. Generally it is delivered around now, but he stopped to congratulate me on my heavy digging work. I asked him what he thought of me adding a lot of compost and a bit of manure to the soil and he breathed in sharply and pointed ominously at my plot. Couch grass he warned. You have to sort it out first. And he is absolutely right. All I have done is fork over the largest bits. I’ve never crouched low and attacked the couch.

And as a consequence of his wise warning, I spent most of my five hour visit today on hand and knees, pulling out couch grass weeds and digging out bindweed. I have filled a large plastic bags worth. And that was only less than a quarter of the plot. Sigh. But I think the worst is where the onions and roots will go. Surely there can’t be this volume of weeds all over the place?

I also had a visit from a nice shy young man who gardens near the front. He came up and offered me a large football sized clump of rhubarb. He had divided his and didn’t need the extra. But as I have three already I had to politely decline. I hope he stays friendly, he did look a bit crestfallen.

Then as I was leaving there was no resisting the bright smiling and bustling Italian man who has a plot near the car park. This is the famous Oswaldo, The Florist, and owner of what must be the most complicated plot. Rooms and sheds and glass houses. And even an intimate little hut where he proudly showed me his comfy chair and bouncy bed. Hmmm. The Allotment Lothario methinks.. It reminds me of Italian gardens where all the area is either bare earth bursting with growth or paved courtyard and higgledy piggeldy buildings. All with a purpose, and all very interesting. He even has about 20 hanging baskets full of bright primulas. (This was before I found out he was the florist Susie has told me about). He grows his artichokes very closely together which is interesting. I guess he harvests them small. That is something I’d like to do. But there’s a lot more weeding to do before I can dream of artichokes.  Oswaldo gave me a parting gift from his van. A pot of grape hyacinths and a rather garish post of flowering cactus plant.  I think I will give the cactus to Elli, and have promised him I will plant the grape hyacinth somewhere in my patch.