Monday 28 December 2015

So much for New Year's resolutions!

My penultimate post stated my intention to be more vigilant on the plot and blog. it is now nearly 3 years later! I hesitate to make another promise to myself but I am hoping to have a more productive year  in fast approaching 2016. I now have a very splendid shed, since last Spring and I have prepared some of the ground by covering it with weed suppressing fabric to make it so much easier to dig. Olive, black labrador, is now 2 years old and more sensible on the plot than the 2 previous seasons.
I was there yesterday, briefly, planting 8 raspberry canes (4 summer and 4 autumn) given to me by Michael the week before. It has been extremely wet the last few weeks and what with gale force winds it hasn't been ideal weather for gardening. However, I had forgotten how good the soil is and that despite the deluge the ground is still possible to dig and it is particularly mild so no excuses for staying away.

PS During the previous 3 years I have published a few allotment posts to another blog that's connected to a project called 'Roaming':

Saturday 23 February 2013

two apples

Wednesday 20th February...
...I spent a Christmas garden voucher and a bit more at a local garden centre that gives 10% reduction for allotment association card holders. I had no idea choosing apple trees would be so complex. I had to consider if I wanted eater or cooker, what size I wanted it to grow to and if there was no self-fertilising tree to fit these criteria I would need two or more that had to be within one point of each other in pollination group category. I came away with a Blenheim Orange, culinary apple, pollination group 3, rootstock M26  and a  with promised final height of 6 feet and width of 8 feet and a Herefordshire Russet, pollination group 3, desert or culinary apple, rootstock M9 that will grow to 5 feet height and width. So I have planted them 8 feet apart in the middle of my plot in between the fruit bushes and flowers. I remembered on my way from garden centre to allotment that I would need stakes and hoped to find something suitable. I used the timber that had, until it collapsed, formed the support for a simple bench, which I used to sit on in my shed in Derbyshire and which previously to that came from my installation 'headspace' in 2002.

Sunday 6 January 2013

new years resolution

I'm back on the plot and resolve to visit not only it - but also my blog - more frequently this year. So...

4th and 5th January
I have discovered this winter that it is possible to come by money for seeds by selling produce from my plot. I have been selling jerusalem artichoke and some pink fur apple potatoes to one of the local greengrocers who supplies the more up-market restaurants in town. When I delivered a trayful this week he handed me a bag of garlic that had begun to sprout. This was the impetus I needed to get back on the plot and start digging again. I now have about 50 garlic cloves in the ground and I have dug and replanted 12 jerusalem artichokes in a corner by the rhubarb.

believe it or not this is a radish!

garlic for planting

resilient cornflowers

Hoping our Christmas tree will live on outside

new rhubarb and artichoke markers

...and three rows of garlic

artichokes for the greengrocer and kale for tea

Sunday 6 November 2011


One small bird floats from the wire
then a flurry of more, like autumn leaves,
and a final gust taking the remnant but
as though held by elastic
back they swing
to write two more lines
one above the other.

Sunday 4 September 2011

Hens against compost!

This morning in an ordinary back garden in Truro, Cornwall, discontent was brewing. Three hens were campaigning that their right to water had been denied them. Their water source, usually within their perimeter fence, had been left within sight but inaccessibly on the other side. The hens protested that the powers-that-be had neglected to provide them their basic poultry rights because of the distracting demands of another local enterprise - the compost heap.

When confronted by our reporter the power-that-be blamed another party for having previously neglected to position the water supply in its usual night-time position the previous evening.

Monday 22 August 2011

Finding meaning in retrospect

I have been busy this summer, too busy to visit my allotment. About a month ago I delivered a second hand hen house with the intention of enabling our daughter, who lives close to the allotment, to look after the hens for us when we are away, at the same time as the hens digging over the plot. Three days ago I called at the plot to see if there was anything to harvest. I fully expected blighted potatoes, rotten onions and broad beans past their prime. I was pleasantly surprised and gathered bagfuls of healthy aforementioned vegetables and some remarkable carrots, the best I have ever grown. The rabbit proof fencing had clearly done its job. As I was leaving I had a brief conversation with one of my allotment neighbours about his glut of courgettes and I said ‘In case you’re wondering, the hen house is our hens’ holiday home’. He replied, ‘It’s certainly had people talking’. This comment of his has stayed with me and I have realised it has relevance to my process both now and in retrospect. Since I delivered the hen house to my plot I have been feeling negligent in terms of maintenance of the plot and also in my lack of neighbourliness. However, I realise, the hen house has been working on my behalf, people have been developing narrative around it, in the form of allotment banter (which, I have learned, is unlike any other kind of conversation) because of its unexplained presence.

In reflecting on the unexpected agency of the hen house I have been reconsidering the similar agency of a caravan I acquired in 2003 with the intention of housing my MA show inside it. I was at that time exploring the notion of ‘infrasense’, a term I used to describe ungraspable, yet affective, sensations occurring as the result of finding oneself in a liminal space. I contacted the university to let them know that I would be bringing the caravan onto site but was told this would not be possible. Since I had nowhere else to store it I decided to take it there anyway and managed to park it up in the disused corner of a car park. I placed a sign in the window stating ‘This is a temporary sculpture’, to allay the institutions fears that it may belong to, or be squatted by, travellers. Some months later I was asked to move it and so I took it to the smaller car park outside the MA department and covered it with a tarpaulin to indicate that it would not be used as a residence. I finally conceded the caravan as housing for my MA work by giving it to someone who was in need of a home and who came and towed it away. In the end the space of my show consisted of a dark corridor through a storeroom that arrived into a liminal space with a light space adjacent to it, throughout all of which I layed turf. I made the caravan’s absence visible in my MA show by yellowing an area of turf the size of the caravan and hanging the key on the wall next to it.

This morning I have been reading again a conference paper, ‘A Dis-operative Turn in Contemporary Art’, delivered in Rio de Janiero in 2001, by Stephen Wright, which he concludes by saying, ‘The creative experiments carried out by contemporary artists merely sketch a horizon, stopping short of fleshing out what lies beyond and thereby setting limits to our imagination. And that, no doubt, is their use value.’ (

Sunday 26 December 2010

I was walking along Fore Street this morning and a man smiled at me and asked me when I was going to be digging again. I recognised him to be one of my allotment neighbours and confessed to not having visited my allotment for some time partly because I had assumed the ground was frozen. He told me that rabbits have eaten most of what is growing there. Our brief conversation reminded me that I had worked through wintery weather in Derbyshire and therefore went up this afternoon equipped with my recharged cordless screwdriver.

I discovered the feathery remains of a fox or cat's Christmas dinner and, as I'd been warned, that rabbits had indeed made a feast of all my cabbage seedlings. I finished constructing a simple 2-bay compost bin from the 5 pallets I'd salvaged some months ago. I then investigated my box of equipment and realised that a kind neighbour (possibly the man I met this morning) had anchored the roofing felt that keeps my tool box dry as well as moving my weeding bucket to support the side of my part-made compost bin.