Saturday, 13 August 2011

Reflections on a Life of Grime

I came across my first allotment diary while having a sort out.  It's not exceptional. Most days are blank but some have scribblings about digging in manure, sowing seeds and  chitting potatoes.  Clearly there are high expectation... up until May when all of a sudden the record stops.  With variations on detail, extent and timing this is how every vegetable diary I have goes in the last twenty years.
First Records
So I'm wondering why I bother. I don't have time to be a diarist and  I guess this blog is a replacement for my failing attempts to keep a record on paper.  Have I referred back to my notes within the same season or in the next season?  For the most part, to be honest, no! Each year is a victory of expectation over real life.  Conditions vary so much from year to year favouring one crop or another, or early or late sowings of the same cropp.

Take peas. Last year I grew peas Oregon Sugar Pod and petit pois Waverex.  OSP was a success and the petit pois were a dismal failure.  Undeterred this year - and really just because I had seed left over- I sowed some more this year. The Waverex did stunningly well.
Pea Pods

Peas Galore

 Here's something I won't forget: the dismal results from my experiment with growing cucumber out of doors. Last year I got three fruit from one of these grown in a plastic greenhouse. This year in the greenhouse and outdoors  - nul points!


So to return to the point.  You never know, one winters evening, when there's nothing on TV or the internet,  I might actually review my diaries and see if there is any useful information to be extracted from them. Normally they are just a short term reminder of what I have done when or a way externalising thoughts and setting reminders for myself. Will they be anything more? I'll let you know. 


  1. I know exactly what you mean! Once I get to the fruit picking season my records go out the window. But it's nice to know someone else has a similar dismal record to mine on cucumbers. Thanks for that, thought I was the only one who struggled with them.

  2. I'm a rubbish record keep Mal, can barely remember to label everything nevermind write a diary! Be interesting to see if you extract any useful info from them.

  3. I keep a diary on my website and I do refer to it to check when things were sown, ready for picking. when a fruit bush was planted etc, But it is much easier to refer to than a paper diary. With a few clicks I can review back the same month to 2007 when I started the website.

    Which cucumber variety do you grow - we have always grown Burpless Tasty Green which seems to generally produced something outside.

  4. Ruth, that's a reassurance to me.

    Damo, With all the responsibilities to juggle your results are fantastic.

    Sue, you (and Martyn) are like gods in my eyes. You gather data, and use it!!! Us mere mortals cast an eye at the back of the packet (or consult Dr Hessayon) instead, which is why I'm wondering why I try to keep a record considering that the process breaks down every year. In fact there is always something that you wouldn't mind checking up on later. This year I planted 6 rows of peas, two of each variety with one brought on in toilet rolls/modules and the other sown direct. Then I couldn't remember whether I had sown in order AABBCC or ABCABC. Consulting my notes I found "planted peas, 3 varieties" !!! Of course I figured it out in the end, but it wasn't easy with the plants in different stages of development. Oh for more time to make a proper job of it.

    Marketmore is the variety that worked last year but gave up the ghost this year. I'll try your recommendation next year.

  5. a familiar tale Mal of starting something then losing momentum. And I'm always surprised on the odd occasion that I do look back at my blog archives just how much time has passed. Many of the recipes have only been made once (but don't tell anyone!).
    I was given a couple of outdoor cucumber plants but they just didn't like the hot windy May we had and shrivelled up and died. So you did better than me!

  6. One way we have of keeping track is to take lots of photos - some people would look and say why have you a photo of an empty plant pot with a label in it? But once the photos are downloaded they go onto a calendar. Click on a date and it shows you all the photos taken on that date and so is a record of what you have done. It's easier than writing everything down too.

    As for the god bit - aren't they infallible if so it rules us out!

  7. The one thing I know is that I don't know!

    My diary from year 1 stopped at the end of May. This year I kept simple sheets. They stopped at the end of May too.

    I know I am behind on harvests this year, because of the blog. I also know that the lessons I learned last year have been forgotten this year.

    Next year I shall buy a bottle of wine instead of a diary. I bet I won't forget to drink it!!!

  8. My blog has kind of become my diary too...i was always forgetting to write stuff down when i planted but I seemed to do better with my blog....apart from the last six weeks that is....but I endeavor to get better from now on!!