Originally I planned to just do some watering and see if anything was ready to harvest down at the allotment. I ended up taking more time though because I decided to attend to the compost.
About the first thing I did on the plot was to erect my compost bins, made from old pallets, and I’ve been stocking up with weeds from the plot, a few trimmings from what I’ve harvested and a small amount of material brought from home (we’ve got some horses tail, Equisetum arvense, which I’m keen not to introduce at the allotment, so only trimmings I’m sure don’t included it). If I’d been able to add it all at once, it probably would have overflowed both bins, but I’ve been regularly turning it and so the volume isn’t massive.
However, it has been decomposing and today I decided to filter the material through a riddle as I made another turn from one bin into the other. I collected three bags of reasonably decent compost. It’s short on worms (quite dry) and there wasn’t a single slug to be seen but there was a greater yield than expected. That’s now stored in three old compost sacks, which I’ve turned inside out and laid on the ground in full sun. Although the compost didn’t get steaming hot (not enough fresh material all at the same time) I hope this will go some way to finishing off weed seeds with the baking temperatures that will continue for another day or two.
I took another early trip to the allotment today to keep up with watering and harvesting. I’ve got some more French beans developing in the bed shown below, although not quite enough for a second pick this week:
I put in the beans, peas, spinach and the bushy Cosmos down the centre on the left. The idea was to attract pollinators, which would also benefit the peas and beans but they haven’t got to full flowering yet. At least they look pretty and, later in the season, will be more material for the compost heap.
Not all of the plants in that bed are ones I planted myself. On the left, the cosmos and beans are joined by a couple of healthy examples of Chenopodium album (Fat Hen). I’m cultivating the related Chenopodium giganteum (Tree Spinach or Magenta Spreen) elsewhere on the plot and this common ‘weed’ can join the harvest. Meanwhile, among the peas and spinach on the right, a tomato has established itself. We’ll see if it manages to produce any fruit but I’m surprised how quickly it has come up – I’m sure I haven’t noticed it before!
Both of these are what gardeners sometimes refer to as ‘volunteer plants’ and, as edibles which aren’t overly aggressive or invasive, I’m happy for them to add themselves to the allotment.
One of the books I’ve got on the go at the moment is A People’s Church by Jeremy Morris (Profile Books, 2022), a history of the Church of England. I’ve just finished chapter 14, “Where Choirs Sing: Anglicanism’s Cultural Experiment”. Although it isn’t a detailed treatise, it does provide a useful overview, including a reminder of the former role of gallery musicians and the fact that the robed choir (disappeared in many settings, including my present one) was a relatively recent innovation in historical terms and not part of the worship experience from the year dot (early to mid sixteenth century in the case of the Anglican church).
If there is a similar book to be written in another four or five hundred years, I wonder whether the kind of things I tend to regard as quite standard in present church music will even register for so much as a footnote? History… it’s all about finding perspective across something longer than a lifespan (certainly much longer than an average attention span).
In the present Conservative leadership election, I thought I liked Liz Truss least for the role, although I wouldn’t classify myself as a particular fan of Richie Sunak and, since I’m not a Conservative party member, I don’t get any vote to cast in who takes this country further to the dogs. I thought I’d be fair though and see if I could find out something about her policies beyond what has been reported in the media. Perhaps her website would be a sensible place to start but it doesn’t even say that she’s standing to become the next Prime Minister, let alone give any detail of what she plans to do if she wins.
That puts me back onto the media, who mainly seem to focus on her promises to cut taxes. Maybe I’m missing something since I can’t find much detail to dig into, but how exactly does that help the nation and, in particular, the poorer people in society who don’t seem to have seen much of the ‘levelling up’ Conservatives have now been promising for years? Some tax cuts would benefit everyone, particularly VAT on essentials like energy. However, even there, your total saving is increased with your total spending. On other taxes, like income tax and national insurance, those on the lowest incomes already fall below the threshold where they pay them and so they won’t benefit (although they will certainly bear the cost of services like NHS dentistry continuing in crisis).
Cui bono? Who benefits? Those with large disposable incomes will do best from what seems to be dangled as a carrot. Maybe they will be able to afford that second car or the third overseas holiday of the year after all? I can’t say that I was likely to be persuaded to become a true blue but I can’t see much sign that Truss, in particular, is making any attempt to reach above the low bar set by Johnson in the quest for a fair and decent society.
Bay (Laurus nobilis) is a fairly easy to grow shrub and the leaves are commonly used in cookery. You can buy dried bay leaves but, if you have some garden space, a live plant won’t take long to repay the investment if you frequently turn to it as an ingredient.
Placed in the ground in a spot it likes, the plant can rapidly grow into a large bush. That’s why I was struck by the examples of heavily pruned bay bushes I saw at Elton Hall last week:
That green cylinder is a bay tree kept under close control. I don’t know how often it has to be clipped to main the shape but it strikes me as an idea I’d like to try sometime.
For today’s all-age worship service at Thorpe Acre church, we were wrapping our “Sensing God” series. We’ve been following this theme since February, considering ideas of how we can engage with God (and how God engages with us) using our five senses. Yes – that did give us six services for five senses but we included a break for the Platinum Jubilee weekend since you don’t get one of those too often.
We wanted to include a chance for people to share some of their experiences of how they have sensed God since we started but didn’t want those to go on too long. That brought us back to the idea of using a burning match as a timer but that seemed just a touch too hazardous (I assume the carpet tiles are flame retardant but we didn’t want a dropped match leaving a scorch mark) and a match would be hard to see from the back of church on a sunny day.
The solution was for me to video a burning match earlier in the week. If you need a visual timer for something, do feel welcome to use it for non-commercial projects (I’ve published it under a Creative Commons BY-NC-SA licence if you are interested). It gives about 45 seconds between when the lit match comes into frame until it goes out and there is a bar on the left of the screen that turns from yellow to black to give a further indication of time remaining: