Goon Tomorrow TWTW # 119

Hello there! It’s been a medical week in our family this week. We’ve been lucky enough to both be called for our first Covid vaccinations, and were able to book for the same time. I’ve had a few days of side effects (mostly a numb arm, headache and some flu-like symptoms) but nothing major and the alternative is probably worse. I’ve been taking it a little bit easy. The sketch to the left was from one of my lazy mornings.

I’ve also had to take Wilson to the vet twice after a few days of an upset stomach that wasn’t improving using the usual remedy. We’re back there again next week for some routine follow up tests, so we’re hoping for some improvements. The vets seem a little baffled, as whatever the problem is remains stubbornly unshifted against their attempts.


Reading. I’ve not been reading much this week, haven’t felt much like it. I did however read through Together by Luke Adam Hawker, which I mentioned a week or two ago. It’s short on words but it is full of amazing line drawings. Great book.

After mentioning Richard Nelson last week, I stumbled across a recent biography of him that was written around the time of his passing. It mentions a lot of diaries that he kept and the biography draws on their content a lot. I’m looking forward to tracking down a copy.


Listening. I’ve been listening to a lot of my usual podcasts this week, and have finished Austin Kleon’s Steal Like an Artist audiobook trilogy (regular trips to the vet has meant lots of time in the car for audiobooks.

Classic Goon Shows have also found their way back into my regular listening. I used to listen to these a lot, and had many on cassette, but over the years have stopped listening. If you’re interested there are a lot of them on BBC Sounds or via the webpage (you might need to be “in” the UK to listen.


Allotment. My potatoes made it into the ground this weekend. I had a couple left over so I planted them in a sack in the back garden. I don’t normally do this, or have much success with sack / pot grown potatoes but I don’t want to waste them. While I was down on the plot I also cleared and redug an area adjacent to the potato bed for another sowing of onions. I have some in the potting shed which I’m bringing on in modules, so will plant them out when they’re big enough in that spot.


Work. Nothing significant to report this week, apart from a virtual allotment talk on Friday to a group from Warrington. I think it went quite well, and had one of the best turn-outs for a virtual talk yet. There were some good questions too and although these things are difficult to tell, I think it went down quite well. It was a lunchtime gig, most are in the evening but the afternoon ones always feel a bit more civilised and mean that you preserve your evening, but I mustn’t grumble.


That’s all for this week. No great plans for the week ahead, although I am looking forward to being allowed to venture out for exercise more that once a day. We’ll be getting back to two dog walks a day.


Mental Rabbit Holes TWTW # 118

Hello again. If last week was a rollercoaster I’m not quite sure what fairground attraction this week has been but it’s had similar ups and downs.

We’ve had a bit more drama with the car when the garage were trying to diagnose the problem and we were looking at a reasonable bill or one that would effectively write the car off. Luckily the gods were smiling and although not cheap we are back on the road again. We’re now still thinking about a “new” car because sadly I think the inevitable terminal bill is coming at some point and at the moment we have some trade-in value. This has bought us back to the question of what that “new” car should be powered by and whether we can afford the upfront costs of electric or not. Watch this space.


Reading. I’ve been continuing and finished Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the painting of the water lilies by Ross King and have started Skylarks with Rosie – A Somerset Spring by Stephen Moss. This is the authors tale of the first Covid lockdown and the wildlife in his local area while he’s confined to that “patch”. I’ve enjoyed the previous books this author has written about his local area more than many of his others so am looking forward to reading this.

I also published a book review of Gone by Michael Blencowe earlier in the week. If you missed it, you can find it here.


In between books this week, I picked up a copy of Kurt Jackson’s Botanic Landscape and was reading the introduction which happens to be written in part by the author Robert Macfarlane. He mentioned Richard Nelson who was an anthropologist who also produced the Encounters podcast which is essentially a series of field recordings of different animals and outdoor spaces. It’s no longer available as a podcast but the archive can be found here. I’d really recommend checking them out. In addition he wrote a couple of books, The Island Within (which is excellent) and Make Prayers to the Raven (equally good).

I’d thought that Richard Nelson had perhaps retired as there hadn’t been a new edition of the podcast for quite some years and by now he would probably be in his 80’s, but I was curious and I did a quick Google, only to find that sadly he had passed away in 2019. Here’s an obituary from the local paper in Sitka Alaska where he lived for many years.

Nels took his last breath listening to a raven’s call.

Sitka Sentinel 4th December 2019

He had quite a considerable influence on me over the years and I admit to be a little sad that not only has be passed away but the news passed me by for over a year. I’ve been listening to a few of the Encounters programmes this week.


Whilst mentioning Robert Macfarlane, he announced this week a collaboration with the notebook producer Field Notes to produce a special edition of the iconic notebooks linked to his iconic book Underland and the books amazing cover produced by the artist Stanley Donwood.

Macfarlane used a number of Field Notes notebooks when he was researching the book and wrote a piece about it for Penguin. I use a lot of Field Notes and normally have one in my pocket, mostly they’re for lists, short notes and bits and pieces I want to remember rather than research for a book, but I do like the special editions that they’ve been producing over the last few years.


Watching. We’ve been working our way through the final season of the French crime series Spiral this week. It’s not been bad, but I think there are some better earlier seasons, and they’ve probably quit at the right time.

If you’re interested in nature at all you might be interested in watching Deer 139 (below) which follows the 85 mile migration of a mule deer and the wildlife biologist who followed it.


Allotment. I’m pretty sure Spring has arrived (and yes I do know today is the equinox) there is a definite change in the weather. My seed potatoes are just about ready to go in the ground, so on my trip to the plot this week I dug the trenches into which they will be planted. Other than last year I have always used trenches for my potatoes; physically this is harder work than other methods but I find it has delivered the best results for me. Basically you dig a trench, then place your potato tubers in the bottom of the trench about 12 to 18 inches apart. Next backfill part of the trench with the soil you dug out, then a layer of compost or manure, then the remainder of the soil from the trench. You want to end up with a slightly raised mound along the length of the trench. Now wait. Once the potatoes start to show through you want to “earth up” the mound with more soil from either side of the trench, repeat this until you have a good mound of soil over the trench. Then leave for around 2 to 3 months depending on the variety, watering regularly. You can add grass cuttings, comfrey leaves and other things the the sides of the mounds to help retain water and provide some extra nutrients. At the end of their time, gently dig with a fork (or tickle with you hands and fingers) to unearth the potatoes.

If you don’t have the space of an allotment you can do something similar in a large sack or pot, put a layer of soil / compost in the bottom, add your seed potatoes and then cover with more compost and earth up as the leaves appear until the sack / pot is full. Water and wait as above and then harvest.


That’s about all that I have for this week. Wherever you are stay safe and take care!

Quick Links 5th December 2016

Each week I’ll try and post quick links to things that I’ve seen, read, inspired me or just sparked my interest in the previous week, with a little background and my thoughts and other things that I’ve been up to in the previous week. Mostly gardening, cooking and environmental stuff but not always.


Life

2016-11-30-07-32-06Most of this week has been taken up with things related to my Dad, plus my maternal Grandmother is sick, so that’s been taking some time too, leaving little time for anything else.

We’ve had freezing weather all week long with temperatures dipping down to between -3°C & -5°C in the early hours of the morning.

I’ve been up and out with the dogs most mornings before sunrise, so have got to enjoy the sunrise most mornings, and the weather conditions and clear skies have made for some pretty spectualar sunrises.



This Is The Most Dangerous Time For Our Planet – Prof. Stephen Hawking


Currently Reading 

Not much time to really read anything much apart from the next part of the book in my online discussion (see below). I’ve been listening to (or rather re-listening to), the excellent audiobook by David Hewson – “The Flood“, in the car, but I finished this on Saturday so I’ll be looking for something else. I have a few to choose from.

Entering the Silence: Becoming a Monk and a Writer: 2 (The Journals of Thomas Merton) by Thomas Merton [GoodReads].

The Wastelands (Dark Tower III) by Stephen King [GoodReads], reading this for an online disucssion group


The Week In Wildlife – In Pictures


If you should also happen to play Words With Friends and fancy challenging me to a game or two, my user name is Tontowilliams.

Making A Quick Potato Salad


Here’s a quick video for making potato salad. Details below.

Makes enough for four people.

You’ll Need:

  • 6 to 8 small / medium sized potatoes
  • Fresh Chives or mint
  • 2 small / medium red onions
  • Mayonnaise
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Lemon juice (2 to 3 tablespoons)

To Make:

  1. Prepare the potatoes, peel if needed (if you’re using young new potatoes, they’ll probably just need a scrub and the skins can stay on). Chop them into bite size pieces.
  2. Boil them until they are just soft, be careful not to over-boil, particularly if you are using a fluffy type potato.
  3. When they’re done, drain and put them back into cool water, and allow them to cool down, until they cold enough to handle comfortably with bare hands.
  4. Prepare the onions and chives by chopping into as finer pieces as you can manage, put these into a large mixing bowl.
  5. Add the potatoes into the mixing bowl, with the onions and chives.
  6. Add some mayonaisse (about 3 or 4 tablespoons), be careful not to add too much, you can always add a little more if needed.
  7. Add a good grind of pepper and salt and the lemon juice.
  8. Mix all together in the bowl, either with clean hands or a couple of large spoons, be careful not to mash the potatoes!
  9. This is ready to serve or can be refrigerated in a covered container for a couple of days.

Chitting Potatoes

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How Do You Chit Yours?

This has to be another sign that spring is on the way, the potatoes are out in their egg box holders chitting!

Why chit potatoes? Well simply when growing at a small scale (commercial potatoes farmers rarely chit potatoes, due to the space constraints), it helps the potatoes to get a little bit of a head start before they go into the ground. The aim is to encourage the potatoes to start to sprout, and ideally we’re looking for small (normally) dark purple sprouts. This is achieved by leaving the potatoes in the light at room temperature for a couple of weeks before planting.

I use cardboard egg boxes, as their ideal for supporting the potatoes, and preventing them from rolling around, and potentially damaging the sprouts that I’m trying to encourage. You can also use seed trays or seed modules – horses for courses folks, it’s whatever works for you!

As I mentioned in my video update (6th Feb) below, folklore says that normally you plant early potatoes at Easter and then harvest 100 days later. Now I’m using the term folklore advisedly here, because it certainly is good advice and last year proved exactly true. I planted my spuds on Easter Saturday and exactly 100 days later dug the first plant to an excellent crop!

This year Easter Saturday is the 26th March, which as I said in the video feels a little early given the potential for there still to be frost (our last predicted frost day is normally mid April, but again only a prediction), however having checked last year’s calendar, Easter Saturday 2015, was April 4th. So on that basis only 9 days later than it is this year. So perhaps not as early as I felt it was.

For now I’m not going to make any decisions either way. I’d certainly like to get my potatoes in the ground on Easter Saturday; as it feels like a milestone in the growing calendar. At the moment however, the ground is too wet, and the risk of them rotting in the ground is probably greater than any risk of frost, so there’ll need to be a dry spell between now and Easter anyway if that’s what I’m aiming for!

From Chitting to Planting (soon I hope)
From Chitting to Planting (soon I hope)

Who’s Been Digging My Potatoes?

2012-06-09 15.46.08

I paid an early morning visit to the allotment today. It’s the first time that I’ve made it down there since last weekend, due to other things going on, but everything at first glance looked okay. Or at least so I thought, because then I noticed that there were a few potatoes sitting on the surface of the plot, when really they should be still buried under ground. It looks as though something, my guess would be a fox, has been digging them up.

I don’t really mind sharing some of my crops, however they haven’t been taken away, just left on the surface, so obviously they’re not tasty unless cooked!

I think tomorrow, I will dig up the remainder, which is a job I need to do anyway, as I don’t want to loose the crop, from an over curious visitor 🙂

Allotment Video Update 12th March 2014 & 14th March 2014

I finally managed to get the video I recorded earlier in the week to upload so here it is, scroll down for more recent updates.

Since then I’ve been busy planting broad bean seeds (eight rows), peas and rainbow chard. I’ve also dug trenches for my early potatoes, which weather permitting will probably go in on Monday. The temperature however has dropped from a balmy 11° when I shot the video above to around 2° this morning.

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