Plot Notes

A personal journal, open for the world to read, recording the progress of a novice allotmenteer on his allotment.

Weed it and reap.

Sunday, 1 May 2011

The Super Panther Strikes Again

The vines all seem to have been enjoying the recent sunshine and they are thriving. There are even some very small grapes forming.

The weeds on the paths between the rows of vines have also been doing well...

and so today, seeing that the weeds were ankle deep, I decided to do something about them.

Last year I had kept the paths reasonably clear with use of the hoe every now and then. I left just enough vegetation in place to hold the paths together. I had considered laying chippings on the paths between the vines when I laid out the rest of the paths on the plot last Summer but I decided against it. I had some worries about drainage and so I thought that by leaving some growth on the paths there would be something there to help soak up any excess rainfall which would reduce the risk of the vines drowning in standing water. 

This year the weeds have grown so quickly and densely that it would have been a back-breaking and futile task trying to clear them away with the hoe alone. There is no power supply at the allotment site and I don't have a petrol mower but I knew that buried away somewhere in my garage there was just the right machine for the job.

In 1990 my Father-in-Law gave me his old manual lawnmower, an ancient Qualcast Super Panther. A year or so later I bought an electric mower and my wife suggested that the old Panther should be taken to the tip. I didn't dump it but managed to keep it tucked away in a corner of the garden shed. It was old and battered but it was still in perfect working order and so I couldn't see the point of throwing it away.

We moved house a couple of years later and the Panther was again threatened with a one way trip to the tip but again I managed to hang on to it and stow it away in the shed sure that one day it would come in useful for something. We moved again eight years ago and the mower came with us. I kept it in the back corner of the garage where, over time, it became buried under a stack of old paint tins, bricks, golf equipment, camping gear, garden furniture, tools, bicycles, scooters, plant-pots and assorted bits of wood which one day might come in useful. This morning, like a suburban archaeologist, I excavated the back of the garage and extracted the mower, a 1960s artefact, from the c2003 strata.

I cut a practice stripe across the back lawn just to check that the trusty old Super Panther still worked. It worked really well and so I took it up to the allotment plot where it made easy work of paths. The result is not exactly centre court at Wimbledon but considering I used a 40-50 year old mower which hasn't seen a blade of grass for twenty years I am very pleased with the way the paths look now. I knew the Super Panther would come in useful one day.


  1. Ah there's hope for all of us squirrelling away that unwanted item in the back of sheds and garages up and down the land, one day there will be a use for it!

  2. Qualcast! I remember pushing a qualcast up and down the lawn and crying at the same time. It was a Sunday; every Sunday I seem to rememeber!

    For a second there, just one second, I remembered why I used to hate gardening.

  3. Same here IG. Before taking on the allotment my gardening experience consisted of little more than the mind-numbingly boring drudgery of reluctantly shoving a mower up and down a lawn week in week out, year after year.