These were grown on a piece of the allotment that the previous tenant said nothing could be grown on and demonstrates two points at once. Firstly, there’s no saying what a piece of ground will grow once you’ve removed not just one, but two layers of carpet and weed control mat separated by a four inch layer of soil and weed roots; and secondly that the old tale that parsnips fork when they’re grown in recently manured ground may be a bit more complicated than it seems. There’s some evidence, apparently, that parsnips and other roots fork as a result of eelworm infestation, so it may be that the forking eelworms (dare I say?) like manure. Who can tell? This ground was absolutely inundated with well-rotted horse manure after we discovered what the problem was uncovered and removed – well, sort of rolled up!.
So that’s the parsnips almost dealt with except to say that roasted with carrots, one of our ukichi kuri squashes and some of our potatoes and rainbow chard made the most lovely treat. The difference in quality and flavour between shop bought veg and our own is beyond dispute.
So that leaves butter and fine words. A couple of days ago I ran out of olive oil when I was baking, so I substituted the same weight of butter in my everyday sourdough and it worked perfectly well. However there’s a difference in the texture that I can’t quite put my finger on, so I probably won’t do it again unless I run out of oil.
And finally, fine words. LIke all bloggers I pay attention to the stats, and like everyone else I love it when they go up and I wonder what I’ve done wrong when they go down. When a whole continent disappears for three days I do worry a bit – and if anyone says they don’t care about things like that, they’re telling fat porkies. The Potwell Inn would be simpler to describe in terms of what it isn’t than what it is. In particular it isn’t a feelgood site, a natural history site, a life coaching site, a spirituality site or a cookery site although, confusingly, I write about all these things. So I have to expect that sometimes when people follow the Potwell Inn because they have an allotment, they might be disappointed when – especially in the winter – there’s not much to write. “Went to allotment to take up the kitchen waste, very muddy” is not going to butter any parsnips or, indeed, crack any pots in Warrington.
In fact, yesterday we took the kitchen waste up to the allotment and dug a few parsnips. I uncovered the compost heap, which I’ve been turning frequently to bury the rat attracting food under the older stuff. I don’t mean cooked food scraps – they go into general waste because the council won’t collect food waste from our block of flats; but rats also love to chew a lump of raw cauliflower trimming or a sprouted potato. As I turned the waste in, a sleek brown rat jumped out from somewhere near the bottom and scuttled around looking for a way of escaping. I was holding a murderous looking four pronged stable fork but the sight of the rat’s rather lovely shiny fur softened my heart and I stood back while it went on its way.
The winter heap is very different from the summer heap. Apart from the rats, the worms love a winter heap and multiply in their thousands if you keep it aerated and warm. You can almost hear them chomping away at the kitchen waste, and as long as I keep the heap from going anaerobic and smelly it consumes kitchen waste, shredded paper and cardboard faster than we can put it in.
Winter compost and summer compost are very different. Winter words and summer words are very different too. Life at the Potwell Inn has its seasons, and as it moves on, my interests, experiences and outlook change as well. At the moment there are over 250,000 words in this blog. Sometimes – it’s lovely when it happens – someone will come on to the site and read fifteen or twenty pages at one sitting. Many readers seem to dip in and out and as the blog has grown I’ve realized that people access it in different ways and for different reasons. I’m looking to change and re-index the categories and tags to make it easier for readers to access the bits they’re interested in. But the core purpose of the Potwell Inn blog is to reflect on the whole tricky business of being human and staying human in whatever ways catch my attention from day to day.
I’d like to reach more people. The Potwell Inn is, hopefully, a sanctuary for the alternative, the bewildered, the joyful and the curious – against the onslaught of the free market vultures. If you’ve read H G Well’s novel you’ll know that the Potwell Inn has a river running through its grounds. There were once fish in it and a ferry to make the crossing. The brewers are desperate to close it down and sell it for redevelopment as a gated housing development. I’d love it if you passed the link to the site on to your friends – I’m confident that if you like the site I’d like your friends too, so do press the button. Small is beautiful but a bit bigger would carry more weight in the fight against all that diminishes our humanity.