Forncett Allotment Association

Session 5 - Tuesday, 6th April the day after the four-day bank-holiday deluge

Written by Digger.


Weather; bootiful, still a chill in the air, but that's no bad thing when you are working up a sweat.

Weight; Battery gone flat in the weight scales so I estimate about seven and a half stone. (Who do you think you are kidding?)

Hours worked; about two,

Time to get seriously vigorous with these weeds. The digging sessions proved that no matter how far down you go, there is always more. I call 'em Australian weeds as I think that's where they come from.

So I ordered £25 worth of very strong weedkiller from a website on the internet. Now £25 worth sounds a lot, and I expected a hunky man to come staggering up my drive with a hefty package that he would be glad to put down. No such thing! I thought he had brought me a book, so small was the pack – heavens I've had perfume come in bigger boxes than this one!

Now if anyone reading this is responsible for any kind of packaging, listen up because I have strong opinions on the subject, and this bottle of weedkiller fails on about 80% of them. Firstly it was designed with a narrow bottom – about an inch wide – with rounded edges and corners that guaranteed that the damn bottle would fall over if placed on anything angled at less than 100% to the horizontal. Where, on a manky old ploughed field will this occur? Secondly the bit of tape stuck over the lid by way of 'safety precaution' cleanly removed the instructions printed on the top of the bottle about how to remove the cap. So is it a squeeze-and-twist-top or a press-and-turn-top? With arthritic hands it almost became a hurl-it-at-something-hard top. Hubby with hands like York hams came to the rescue: he also had his spex on and could read (not without a little sarcasm) the vestiges of the instructions for opening the top. Also he could read the font-size-2 pale-grey print on the mid-grey background that actually told me nothing whatsoever of value; but by God it looked smart and state-of-the-art - as did the acres of 'white space' next to it where there was nothing.

Now to the mixing of the stuff: 30ml per one litre of water in a spray, or in 5 litres in a watering can; so far so confusing. How much is 30ml? Nothing helpful written on the killer-bottle about that. Consult my spray bottle and discover it holds two and a half litres. The measure in the top of the cap reveals (after getting hubby-in-spex over again because it wasn't so much printed on there but etched on faintly) that it holds 20 ml. So that's one and a half times two and a half capfuls. Is it? I bunged in three capfuls and a fair slug for luck, and it went a pretty colour so I thought that would do; it was about to overflow anyway. I put the plunger in the spray bottle and a good half-pint did overflow, all over my leg. I pumped the spray bottle a couple of times and it wouldn't go any further, odd that because written in my own fair hand on the side of the bottle it said '15 pumps should do it'. I am prone to write things like that; my mother was a teacher; I don't know if that explains anything but it's a handy excuse.

I proceed with my killing operation by pointing the lance (a tube with a spray nozzle at the end) at weed number 1 and pressed the button-thingy. Fffttt!!! Honestly, I've had more than that sprayed over me when the cat sneezes snot all over. I pumped it again, fffttt-sssssit!! This time I got a little more; equivalent to the amount of wine my mother thinks is decent with Christmas dinner. Time to twiddle something. I twiddled the nozzle, and hubby-in-advisory-capacity offered, 'that's always a bugger to get right,' and went back to his digging. So I went through all the possible permutations from a setting which should be named 'Niagara falls' to 'press that again and I will explode' and finally settled for an outpouring that resembled a little boy relieving himself – not too fast, and pretty good aiming accuracy. Now for it! I don't like to walk all over what I have just sprayed so I walked backwards which isn't ideal in a manky ploughed field covered with boulders. I went off course a bit, so paused to place a rock or two to guide me: in a plot that is 50% rocks this was of dubious assistance as (and I am still allowed to say this – I checked with Health & Safety and Equal Opportunities) they all look the same to me.

During resting phases I inspected my co-plotee's progress; plants were in! Gosh, I hope she got all her weeds out. She-who-hasn't-lifted-a-finger-yet's plot had altered by dint of some lovely fresh new weeds, and Mrs. baby-in-her-wheelbarrow and husband had started with a mosaic path made out of stones around one of the beds. Veteran had a pile of horse-muck ready to spread, and Kenwood, the guy with the food-mixer Rotovator was nowhere to be seen. All being well then, I ain't too far behind. Next time I shall bring my tent frame; the fabric of the tent went to the dump ages back, but I am sure as heck that I can find a use for the frame at the allotment. Watch this space.