Saturday, March 27, 2010

Digging into Alabama Fudge Cake

I wish.

However, the soil on our plot at the allotment reminds me of it. As SomeBeans* digs into it, it looks like a cake slice going into a rich, chocolatey cake. Good enough to eat.

With the warmth of the sun over the past week or so, it will soon be sowing time. I haven't yet resorted to the old gardener's method of telling whether the soil is warm enough to plant. That method is, allegedly, to drop your trousers and sit on the soil. If the soil is warm enough to remain seated on, then it is warm enough to sow. I think I might worry the plot neighbours if I did this; instead, it's handy to keep an eye on the weed activity.

Our plot is 'blessed' with a wide range of weeds to help us do this. The ephemeral weeds such as hairy bittercress seem to have survived the cold weather very well. They haven't quite started growing yet. It's the perennials which are showing signs of stirring, and we have plenty of those. Although the horsetails haven't quite poked their noses above the ground, you can find evidence of them rising to the surface when you dig. The real early bird is ground elder, the leaves of which are now starting to show.

I don't blog about the allotment very often. Partly because I rarely remember to take a camera down there. The main reason, however, is that there are only so many ways of writing about weeding. Digging up deep-rooted perennials, hoeing annuals, forking out couch grass roots. That's about it, really. If the gods in Tartarus had been keener horticulturalists, Sisyphus would have been damned to eternal weeding instead of the simpler task of rolling a boulder up a hill. Still, I suppose that's the flip side of having soil as rich as an Alabama fudge cake.

*Poor SomeBeans. He does do most of the digging. I think he enjoys it.


easygardener said...

Hairy Bittercress seems to be everywhere in my garden, including all the potted plants. My soil is more like a flapjack with gravel instead of nuts!

chaiselongue said...

I'm glad to hear spring is coming to your allotment too. I hadn't heard of that method of judging the warmth of the soil - I'm trying to imagine the reaction of some of our gardening neighbours, who are shocked enough to see a woman gardening at all, let alone one without her trousers, if I tried that!

Jo said...

It's my hubby who does most of the digging too, though I've done my share of weeding already this year.

Esther Montgomery said...

Ground elder where I live is never out of season. Even when frosts make it droop - up it comes again.

I've some dock come up - any use as a spring watch guide?


HappyMouffetard said...

EG - your soil doesn't sound quite as appetising. I like flapjack, but I'm not so keen on gravel with it.

Chaiselongue - it would certainly be a talking point amongst the neighbours!

Jo - quite right too. It's division of labour. I read somewhere that women used to be paid a penny a day for weeding large gardens.

Esther - we're lucky in that the elder died back over winter. I can report that the docks are coming up here, too.

Linda said...

You're right - sometimes I think my allotment = weeding.

I see several books in your library that I've been meaning to read. Would you recommend 'Bulb' and 'Nature's Engraver'?

HappyMouffetard said...

Hi Linda,
Yes - I'd recommend both. Bulb is full of beautiful photos and descriptions - rather like a very up-market plant catalogue. Nature's Engraver was really interesting - Jenny Uglow writes so well.