Thursday, 24 February 2011

Flying Lotus, Hidden Mancunian

Two films I made today, both ridiculous! The music and the sun inspired me. Enjoy!

R.I.P Warren G

It is with some sadness that I BELATEDLY announce the passing of Warren G. She died of obstruction. If that's too euphemistic for you...well let's just say it was a tad unpleasant. To commemorate her life G Unit dedicates this little gem that we all know and love. Pace (peace).

Frankenstein's Laboratory or the Ballad of Coffee-Go-Mad

One cup of coffee is all it takes to make me go crazy. I am wrested in this almost dread energy, where I'm doing several things at once, but feeling like I'm doing nothing at all. Does anyone else get that? Maybe it's this brand of coffee (strength 4 Asda speciality). Anyway, let's talk gardening not coffee! Although coffee was the catalyst for much of the story that follows. My studio has become a full time lab now. The sunflowers are comingon a big cakey dream, although I am loath to transplant them to larger pots as they hate being moved. I was surprised by how long the first root was in each seed, it's the same for the sweet peas, a big long pale tendril, that really burrows down, thereafter smaller roots establishing horizontally. As we don't have tonnes of really open sunny spots in the garden I will be doing a combo of potted and direct planting in the ground, with some going down to the allotment where I hope they will become monsters. Thrown into the mix are later blooming sunflowers - Autumn Beauty, Red Sun, Ruby Eclipse and Chocolat. Massively excited about these. The variety in the seeds alone tells me great things are coming, the pointier, almost black ruby eclipse offsets the golden mottled colours of the red sun and the pallid birds egg quality of the autumn beauty.
I've bought a huge trough for the sweetpeas from Poundstretcher, really that place should be called SUPERQUID. The gardening stuff they have is wicked and cheap. Additionally I have purchased a thirty pot propagator, some Dutch Iris bulbs (now planted around the apple tree), and some peat pots (these are good for sunflowers as you pot them direct in the soil and the roots smoosh through like big super hunks - oh dear). I have put the white sunflowers in these as they are much smaller and thinner than their rowdy orange cousins. Let's see what happens.
Joining the crew are the Pinellia Tripartita; there is a frustrating lack of information on the intercrap, so I'm not even sure whether this is the right time to plant them. If they grow, I will become an authority on them!
Echinacea Bravado has it's own propagator, as do the very saucy French Marigold pinwheels. These seeds are so weird. They look like little shards of hay dipped in ink. I love them! Lastly I have potted thirty Malva Zebrina seeds which look like grape nuts. These are a cousin to the hollyhocks, which I'm hoping will grow up nice and tall this year.

P.s I have also grown some cat grass for Tad to chew on. Tried to get him to have a sniff the other day but he was too busy spraying the ivy bushes, properly marking his territory, the fiend. Catmint is growing. Very. Slowly. Also, I sowed some Poblano chile pepper seeds. They are said to turn '...a red so dark as to be nearly black.' My heart fills to bursting.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

What the Cluck? / Valentine's Day Duties

Yesterday saw the triumphant return of the double team Parsley and Oregano. It was a cold day - not enough to get in the bones, but a reminder we're not yet in Spring. Mind you there was a spring in my step once I'd been woken up by Parsley singing down the phone to me: Wake up get out of bed Lots to do in the day ahead, Switch on the kettle get some tea, then abrupt as you like she screams Whadda ya doing?! I burst into laughter.
Headed over to the magic garden for around 10.30. Alan made us tea, whilst I gathered the buddleja prunings to be ground in the mega wicked Walsall 5000 grinder (my own name for it).
Last year I wrote a love letter to Buddleja / Buddleia with Stuart Mugridge. You can find the script here: The grinder looks like the wood chipper from Fargo...only it's much quieter. Spent ages being a dork not turning it on properly etc. But I got through it, taking the soggy chips and bunging them for the most part in the compost bins behind the dome. Cups of tea were flying about which was grand as I kept on stopping anyway, feeding the chickens seeds and talking to them. They have grown in confidence and sheen! Smethwick has grown in naughtiness.

No Buscemi in sight.

Had lunch and then Parsley and I trimmed back the holly bush / hedge so it would grow fuller. In a moment of pure hilarity Parsley whipped out her pythons and dragged a good length of bramble out of the hedge. What a vision of power! Are you aware you're in possession of dangerous weapons there madam? Cakeatonne was polishing his shield and morning star so he missed it. Had a rum time of getting all the holly in the bags, but bag we did, with a vengeance.
There was talk of hitting the allotment, as some garlic needed planting. However it started to rain so we called it off. I was done, what with bramble chopping, chicken naming (Baden Fowl is the newest), tea supping, baby amusing, JLS jewellery mocking etc.

Came home and planted my echinacea seeds in the propagator. Was happy to see the sunflowers emerging as well as the new sweet peas. Watch this space.

Monday, 7 February 2011

Chicken Lickin'

Parsley and Cakeatonne have bounced back with a new crew of chickens. Born and raised by 'Action' Jackson Brown, these four little wonders are now members of G unit. In updated and more secure compounds, these young uns are under our watchful eyes. We have a Warren (Warren G), a Black Rock (the Rock), a Magpie (Henny G) and a ranger (this naming was more convoluted: from Texas Ranger -> Chuck Norris - > CHICK NORRIS). These are strictly provisional names, and no doubt Parsley will hurl a molotov cuss at me for getting them wrong.

Hello ladies!

They are very young and very nervous, with exception to Warren G, which has been put in solitary during the day for jumping on the others and pecking them. I don't suppose the high winds are helping things. I even said to Parsley: 'If I was a chicken, right now I'd be fucking shitting myself,' to that end they did just that. This morning Parsley and I moved them from the eglu to the solardome, to acclimatize them. Don't know how successful we were, what with hugely annoying angle grinding going on from next door, doors banging, car alarms, Smethwick roaring at the district attorney down his mobile, and my general noisiness (speech). But they seemed to be quite happy (if tentative) roaming around the soil. All attempts to get them to feed seemed futile until the Magpie clocked on that eating seed and feed was better than pebbles and plastic. The others followed some extent at least. They are very clustered at present, only dispersing when it comes to being caught! It was a mega job, they kept finding nooks and crannies, squawking and legging it about the dome. 'It's for your own good!' soon turns to 'Come here you feathered dork!' We will have to be very patient with them. But it's like fire watching (for me, any road) I could sit happily and watch them do all kinds of nonsense and not stir. These three have a funny look about them, not like they're going to start talking and reciting Chick Norris one liners, but they have this startled chicken wisdom. I'm sure of it - I see it in their crazy wide eyes!

Get your a$$ to solitary!

Their tendency to huddle in the eglu at all times meant I had to usher them out again so that they could feed. In time these trepid foot soldiers will be at the forefront of the feathered biped crew, an unexpected clan from G unit! Watch this space.

CSI chicken

It is with a heavy heart that I belatedly announce Salt and Pepa & Spinderella are no more. Some of you may know already, but for those of you who don't know they're up in the great chicken coop in the sky. A fox, probably on crack, managed to get in and he killed them all, taking Pepa with him. Friday 21st January was a cold, morbid day, let me tell you. I said it was, 'like a scene from Taggart'. As usual my brain wasn't very good at dealing with a catastrophe.

However, it wasn't all doom and gloom as we had our very own crime scene investigator, detective Frank Smethwick (Eric), King's Heath only feline forensic officer. He was prowling the scene, sniffing for trace evidence, taking dna swabs and swinging a mean right hook at me when I went to stroke him. You just can't interrupt him when he's doing his profiling. His testosterone is in the ascendant. Seriously though, it was very sad. We hadn't had them very long at all, but a G Unit that works together stays together, so there was not
hing left to do but get on with work.

It was a morning and afternoon of endings and beginnings. An eleven year old cactus had also perished, which seemed to reinforce that point. However with a bit of JLS on the old dog and bone (damn good acoustics in the dome let me tell you), we were soon clearing up and moving on. To the musical majesty of Beat Again, One Shot, The Club is Alive we laboured. Parsley tidied up the feathers and the bodies of our feathered friends. I was digging up the mound of soil which is behind the dome, filling up cement and compost bags - sixteen of them! My pythons

were singing like Tom Jones by the end. Hernia schmernia! To get me in the mood I stole the phone and played some drum and bass. Cakea-giga-tonne was appalled : 'You're as bad as those rats on the back of the 50!' I was, I am still prone to flipping out the blackberry wannabe and splashing on some grime. But only in the garden.

Alan, Parsley's dad, was constructing a wicked chicken run that was going to be placed on the raised bed. It was all industry. After lunch, served on a silver plate by Cakeatonne, I moved the bags to the bottom of the drive. Three at a time - they were some big mothers. It doesn't end there as there's many more to move in the not too distant future. I will get that Greek god physique. And there will be more chickens. Read on.

Sunday, 6 February 2011

Daffodils, Tulips, Apple Tree Pruning and Raspberries

It's great to see the daffodils coming out around the apple trees, and in the front 'garden' if you can call it that. Strange things happen in that little patch of earth, we have a rosebush, a few ferns, a stoic poppy plant or two and every type of garbage blowing in from all directions. Packets of discos, bank statements and cans. Cheers slobs, cheers wind for making the slobs work less than than it is already, cheers slobs, cheers slobs. Mind you it will get better. The tulips especially are looking quite promising, although it is still relatively early stages. Already I love the marble smoothness of the leaves. Watch this space.

In other news I pruned back the apple trees a bit as the upper branches were getting seriously entangled, not to mention swaddled with carbuncles. To all extents and purposes the trees should be dead as they have been chomped by ivy for many years. I mean they have been voraciously chomped, hollowed out, making them list dangerously. But they keep on keeping on, even growing new branches which eventually bud. The cooking apples we get from them make for some fine apple crumble - with vanilla custard it's enough to blow your socks off and make them jig.

Lastly I have planted a raspberry cane in the border at the bottom of the garden. It was bought for me by my brother in all things hilarious Jin Krogan aka Matty Robinson. He got it from Poundland which raised a quasi-sneer from Cakeatonne (expensive ones ordered online for the allotment). It will be fun to compare! If not we can always joust.

Sweet Peas & Sunflowers

It has been an industrious few weeks, though at the expense of the allotment. Mind you, has anyone been out in the last few days? The wind has a serious grievance against anyone daring to leave the house. Does wonders for the barnet though. Like a semi - colossal puff of brown fog atop my head, my hair loves being screamed at by the wind. I however, do not, taking to look like I'm weeping whilst turning my collar up and staunchly walking onwards. Chaaaarge!

This aside, I have been busy planting seeds, namely sweet peas (royal mixed and giant waved varieties) and some sunflowers - including some helianthus debilis or 'Italian White' seeds. These won't grow as tall as the other type but the combo of creamy white flowers with deep chocolate coloured centres will make me think of cookies and cream, so there. The variation in seeds is awesome. The sweet peas' look like miniature cannon balls, semi purple and tough as sea biscuits, whereas the sunflower seeds look like mint humbugs with tiny golden hairs, and the italian white sunflower seeds look like miniature flint coloured shards. Gerrinvolved! (Get involved).

The very late / super early sunflower is doing well as the photo below shows. My only hope is that the other seeds I have planted today will catch up and we'll have a garden full come summer. Many thanks go to mother for bringing me two types of propagator; I am tempted to make a pun here about a well spoken alligator - for shame I just did; these I filled up with rich compost from a mega bag all the way from Gordon Riggs'. TODMIDDLETON. That one is just for the family Wakefield.

In a less insular vein I was listening to Bo Marley and Disrupt the whole time I was doing this. I seriously think playing German dub to my plants and flowers is going to do wonders. Don't believe me? Go 'ere! One day G unit will have its own portable Bo-mobil, firing out raps about JLS, allotment empowerment, dueling forks, cats that look like Frank Zappa, knobbly cucumbers and solardomes. Believe. I do.

Also planted a peony and chocolate cosmos late this afternoon. I'm always stumped by tubers and bulbs, never knowing what way to bloody plant them, spending two hours searching online to little avail, going into Tom Cruise meltdown at said failure. Then I start worrying they'll never grow! Wah!