We don’t want no robot!

Yesterday whilst walking through Lincoln’s Inn Fields on the way back from a lunchtime shopping trip we spotted on the grass (or what’s left of it), a strange and small-wheeled device tearing up and down. “What the…?” we thought to ourselves.

After a minute of two of head-scratching, a stranger joined us and we both tried to work out what the hell it was. Was it some sort of TV comedy show stunt? Mobile broadband? Or an alien sussing out the area for a possible UFO landing in Holborn?

After five minutes we came to the conclusion it was a robotic lawnmower. It must have sussed that we were interested in it as the thing stopped going up and down in straight lines and made a beeline for us. It stopped just in front of where we were standing then span around a couple of times. We were then waiting for it to say (in a 1970’s comedic robot voice) something like “You have 20 seconds to comply” or “Smile you’re on Candid Camera” but it just flashed a couple of lights on its body in recognition (above) then resumed doing what it was doing.

What the hell is the world coming to? Please don’t tell us we’ll soon be doing away with the humble council gardener and just be left with robots. Who’ll drink the endless cups of tea and eat egg and bacon sarnies in the park hut in work’s time? Who’ll be selling old spring bulbs the council throw away come summertime and who’ll wear the regulation donkey jackets and steel-capped boots? 

Another thought, surely these council Robo-mowers can be picked up, demobilised and put in a bin bag and taken to some-one else’s garden (ie. your own) without the park-keeper finding out before it’s too late. Or are they equipped with an alarm that goes off when activated by their owner “I AM A ROBO-MOWER AND I AM BEING TAKEN BY AN NON-AUTHORISED USER” which gets progressively louder until the real owner gets it back?

Or could the government could do a Boris-Bike type scheme with them. You pick them up from the side of the road where another gardener has left them, put your quid in the slot on its side, use it to cut your lawn, then chuck it out on the pavement for the next person. Answers on a postcard please.

Now Robo-mower, do us all a favour go about your business far far away (on a motorway traffic island preferably) while we pour ourselves another cup of tea. “Yes, Master”…

Competition results

The winner of the Vertical rodent of the week goes to this squirrel seen on the side of Weeds HQ the other day. What you can’t see are the two cats on the pavement below. Gladly the squirrel made it away safely! #squirrelonaveritcaltip

And the winner of the ambient dub track of the week is Adam Prescott with his track Schism (Lion Charge Records). Lovely heavy dub with strange noises that have the touch of the Lee Perry’s about them. Can’t say fairer than that!

Bruce Lee, sea forts and a blimmin’ drone

We do love Time Team and Coast here at Weeds (alongside Aquarium RoadshowSinging midwives on ice and Don’t tell the Bus Driver of course!) and watched a combination of the two in Tony Robinson’s Hidden Britain by Drone. The one on the box tonight featured Red Sands Sea Forts at 21.15 minutes in. Excellent stuff if you love a Maunsell Sea Fort.

And thanks to our good friend Jazzmin Tutum here’s 9 minutes and 33 seconds of excellent downtempo chilled business. The track called Void City Arrival from Smooth Genestar appears in an interesting youtube about the great Bruce Lee that Jazzmin alerted us to. The clip is here and well worth watching!

Seedswapping, we’re seedswapping (and spud buying)

Here’s news of three interesting events (all FREE!) coming up in the forthcoming months. The first is the Incredible Edible Lambeth Seed Swap on Saturday February 9th from 12-3pm at The Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7LB. More details here.

The second is The Roots & Shoots Potato Day over Saturday 9th and Sunday 10th February 2019 from 11.00am-2.30pm at Roots & Shoots, Walnut Tree Walk, Lambeth SE11 6DN. More details at www.roots&shoots.org 

And the third another Potato Day on Sunday March 3rd from 11-4pm at The Garden Museum, Lambeth Palace Road, London SE1 7LB. More details here. More details about Potato Days nationwide here. 

Superhero dahlias are the next big thing

We booked a day off work yesterday so in the morning popped down Shannon’s to get some seed compost and whilst we were there picked up a delightfully named dahlia called Hollyhill Spiderwoman. It’s a mad looking “cactus” variety with blooms that can grow up to a whopping six to eight inches across! How good is that? Flowers “as big as a dinnerplate” as it says on the packaging, brilliant!

We returned home happy with our purchases but after being indoors for about ten minutes we spied out of the kitchen window an unwelcome visitor to the Weeds garden, the Lewisham Heron (we’ve had trouble with it a couple of times, see here and here.) The pond has netting all over it now so hopefully the winged beast didn’t have its way again but the water is dark and murky at the moment and no fish were to be seen after we shoo-ed the monster away. Go back to Ladywell Fields Pterodactyl-features and leave our goldfish alone!

After we got over the shock of seeing our pond’s sworn enemy the rest of the afternoon was spent with a bit of bed tidying and inspecting the dahlia tubers that are plonked under the stairs in a blue builder’s sack. Any excess soil was knocked off and anything that looked a bit mushy or mouldy was chucked into the bin. If you like dahlias like we do, a couple of good resources are The National Dahlia Society Facebook page here and Dahlia Divas have a long list of varieties here.

No matter how much we love the plant we wouldn’t eat them. But some people will, dahlia Rosti anyone? No thanks, we’re not hungry.

And for viewers in Cambridge…

Thanks to Mick Matthews for getting in touch about the CSSG‘s 10th Potato Day on Saturday 2nd February 2019 at All Saints Church, Market Square, Huntingdon PE29 3NR from 10.30-1pm and entrance is FREE. Spuds are £1.30 per kilo (£1 if members) which is a nice price! Mick also tells us they’re having a seed swap and second hand tool stall there as well. Great stuff, if you’re around those parts do go along! Their website is here for more information.

And finally…

Looking through the racks of WH Smiths in Holborn yesterday we found some popular gardening magazines are doing a free seed offer with their latest issues. You know they’re not going to be a full pack of seeds that you’d usually get in your local garden centre but it’s something. Grow your own is doing 10 free seed packs for £5.89, Kitchen Garden 5 packs at £4.99 and Veg Garden 10 packs of free seeds for £8. Have a browse in your local magazine emporium before it’s too late!


What a difference an hour makes

Last weekend another hour was spent out in the garden in the cold and damp but it was worth it. As you can see the beds at the left-hand side of the garden were looking initially untidy. After about an hours work they now look half reasonable. There’s overwintering garlic in the end of the bed nearest the fence and opposite that some rhubarb being forced under an upturned tub with bricks on it. Underneath the plank that’s come off the raised bed is a pregnant frog! The question is will it be nice enough weather to finish the remaining bed by the pond at the bottom of the garden this weekend?

Talking of rhubarb (Above: the result of forcing the plant a couple of years ago; lovely red stalks!) in an old gardening book we once learnt about a place called the Rhubarb Triangle (aka The Tusky Triangle) in West Yorkshire where the plant in grown and forced in dark barns and picked by candlelight (as not to turn the stalks green). Fact not fiction! More about that here and here.

Seek, and ye shall find my friend

We weren’t feeling too hot over the xmas and new year period as another damn cold/flu struck, but as the garden was looking a bit on the neglected side an hour or so had to be designated to a bit of outdoor tidying up. This one was for the bed next to the garage that  earlier this year contained tomatoes, sweet peas and dahlias amongst other things (past posts about said plants in all their glory are in the links).

We dug up all the dahlia tubers carefully (some of them are the size of big spuds!) which are now drying out under the stairs even though last year we took a chance and left them in and they did wonderful this summer (post here). More on lifting the tubers here.

We even replanted a silver birch (one we found a couple of years ago in a Tesco’s bag with a note that said “Take me” on it outside a house locally see post here) that was originally by the pond but hopefully it will do better at the end of the bed. We’ll be probably moving it again as it’s so near the old garage wall but let’s see.

And as protection from forthcoming cold weather we stuck one of the plastic mini-cloches from another find, which followed the same pattern as before; left outside a house with a note with “Take me” on it (post here) over the Foxtail Lily that’s started to sprout a bit prematurely.

So wrap up warm, happy gardening and keep em peeled as Shaw Taylor used to say.