Plot 51: Project Hollyhock

So with just one small patch of the main growing beds to finish raking and preparing for planting, I decided to move onto a new project, the border. The border is mainly raspberries and as they fruit on new canes there’s little I can do until the harvest and they’ve been pruned back, so I’ll tackle another weed filled patch.

IMG_0332

 

There’s several compost bins along the side and one has been tipped over, so I’ll move this and clear the space nearby of weeds to make a nursery bed for my hollyhocks for next year.

The square of earth is host to burdock and bindweed and it’s no surprise to find buried lots of broken glass and plastic; there’s lots of dried putty leading me to think that a broken window has been buried here.

 

IMG_0331

The patch is cleared quite quickly and I find something that makes me very happy, but that’s another blog post. After adding some blood, fish and bone and removing some house bricks it’s ready to look after the hollyhocks for next year. I’ll also put some flowering plants into the space to add interest for this summer.

IMG_5128

Deal or No Deal

At the side of our house is a tiny scrap of land barely 60msq that belongs to Domenico; who also owns the ruin out front: Domenico’s Ruin. On this land stands two skinny olive trees, now the only way to these trees is through my gate and down the steps attached to the side of the house. A few weeks ago Domenico told me he’d need to strim the land in readiness for harvesting the olives in November. Being a good neighbour I told him we’d clean his land and strim it for him, which we did today: or rather Seppe did with his strimmer with chain attachment. I’d mentioned to Seppe that I’d like to put a fence around the edge of the land joining it to ours to keep the dogs from running down into the olive groves owned by other people, but would need to speak to Domenico first.

100_7859

So today we’re finishing off filling the frame for the patio with rubble from the restoration and clearing Domenico’s land of weeds, when he appears. Seppe asks him if we can put the fence up to keep the dogs in, and at first he’s against the idea, “It’s my land,” he says. We explain that we know that, and we just want to make it secure. He asks what we are doing and we explain that we are building a patio, a gravelled area and a vegetable plot. “I used to grow my vegetables on this piece of land,” he tells us pointing to his 60msq patch. “Maybe you can buy it from me?” We ask how much and the price starts at €2,000 and we say no, €500 and so on until he says €1,500 and we say no more than €1,000 and we’ll think about it.

We agree that he can come to work on the land any time he wants and we’ll unlock the gate, “Oh, I only want the olives.” he shakes his head, “I don’t want to work this tiny piece of land.”  We then say to him that we’ll keep it clean for him and not let it get overgrown. “Well, why don’t you use it for your vegetables then?” We are a little confused by this. “Shame to waste it, the soil is good, so why don’t you work the land?” We thank him for his generosity and he responds by saying, “And think about if you want to buy it.”

Buy it and turn it into an allotment, or grow on it for free… Deal or no deal?

I don’t care how long you’ve been…

It’s been very remiss of me to neglect my blog this past week and I can only really offer one excuse, I’ve been having too much fun. I did actually pitch six articles to various editors in the UK last week so I’ve not been completely lazy. Like all writers I do make notes as things that interest me occur, thus storing up potential blog entries or magazine features for the future. Today’s is a previous incident that I’d overlooked, so rather than leaving the notes lying dormant like bed-sheets in a cupboard, I’ll take them out and give them an airing.

A few weeks back we were working downstairs on the house, which meant we couldn’t hear any traffic passing in the lane. The post-lady, a young girl in her twenties always peeps her horn to let us know we have mail. (For mail read, bills.) So imagine our surprise when we emerge from downstairs to discover an old guy next to his ape forking garden waste over the wall. I quickly lose all Italian vocabulary and use that accepted English phrase to gain someone’s attention. “Oi.” The old guy looks around and sees me, “Yes, you.” I say walking up towards him, my sleeves are already rolled up so I’m unable to roll them as I walk to add to the menace in my voice. I reach him and he says, “What.” Obviously in Italian, then continues lifting forkfuls of weeds up and tossing them over the wall.

100_6456

By now the builder has arrived to ask him what he’s doing, explaining that we now live here and he can’t come and tip his garden waste on our land. The old guys response is, “I’ve been tipping it here for about fifteen years, no one has ever complained before.” Our builder does his best to explain that no one’s complained because the house has been empty for twenty-five years. I understand a little of the conversation, and add my two-penneth, “I don’t care how long you’ve been…” You get the gist, not that it’s of any help whatsoever.

The old guy then points out that we have dumped lots of rubble on the land, “So it’s the same.” We explain that it’s not the same as the rubble is ours and so is the land. Our builder reiterates by telling him that the garden waste belongs to him, but the land doesn’t. The old man then asks what can he do with the waste from his orto now. I’m about to be facetious, but the builder throws me a glance before the words can leave my mouth, and more diplomatically says, “You can leave the rubbish here this time, but don’t come back again.”

The old man leaves and our builder returns downstairs, and I’m left alone in the lane waving a fist in the air and proclaiming to the wind, “Come back again old man, and I’ll show you where you can stick your rubbish.”

Apologies for the less than entertaining photographs.100_6457