Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The joint of beef

I once heard a story about a young woman who asked her mother how to roast a joint of beef. Her mother said "Well first you take the joint of beef and you cut about 2 inches off the end, then you put it in the roasting tin, and . . ."
"Hang on," said the young woman, "Why cut off the end?"
"Er, I don't really know," said her mother, "But that was the way my mother showed me and that's how I've always done it".
So the young woman went to her grandmother and asked her the reason, and she said "I don't know either, but that was the way my mother taught me to do it, and everybody always said my roast beef was the best they'd ever had, so I taught your mother the same thing".
The great-grandmother was still alive, so the young woman asked her why she must cut off the end of the joint of beef. This made the old woman laugh so much she couldn't speak for five minutes, and when she finally caught her breath she said "When I was just married we only had a small roasting pan and you couldn't fit a whole beef joint in it, so that's why I always cut the end off it!"

I've been getting a lot of advice off other allotment holders lately. One warned me ominously to net my pea seedlings to protect them from the pigeons, another expressed concern about the lack of slug pellets on my plot. Someone advised me not to even think of growing carrots because of the terrible carrot root fly infestation, although other plots seem to have crops of carrots. One chap gave me all kinds of wisdom for what felt like an hour - his rows of crops are at an oblique angle to everyone else's because he aligns them with the 12 o'clock sun (everyone else's seem to be aligned with the local drainage).

What am I to do? If I follow all of these suggestions it will cost me a fortune, put paid to any ideas of organic practices, and in fact be plainly impossible because many of the hints I've been given are flatly contradictory. If I do none of them I am quite sure that some disaster will befall at least some of my crops, and James on plot 23 will tell everyone "I did warn her to cut off the dock plants and pour salt on the ends but she thought she knew best!", unless it was Tony on plot 18 who was right all along about not overwatering but making the plants find their own water. I want to benefit from the advice of knowledgeable people, but I don't want to spend the rest of my life cutting the end off the joint of beef.

4 comments:

blackberry44 said...

This is a tough one. You'll probably get as many different kinds of advice as there are allotment holders.

I daresay you have a book about organic gardening. Why not consult it and make notes about what you've done and what the result is.

I don't know what to do about slugs. They're a perfect pest on what used to be my allotment, as well as in my back yard and I never came to a satisfactory conclusion about it. I've found the best thing to stop snail and slug damage in the pots in my yard is gravel sprinkled over the earth, but it's probably far too expensive and impractical to consider it for an allotment.

I've not yet found any organic alternative to the awful slug pellets which actually works.

Bear in mind that some of these slug pellets will poison other wildlife as well as slugs.

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