Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Gardening on a Victorian dump site

My Cripley Meadow allotment is located on wasteland that was once a Victorian dump site. It has been used for allotments since 1891, and an environmental assessment was done in 1997, indicating that although there were slightly elevated levels of heavy metal in the soil, the site was safe for allotments. The scientists had spoken, and that was good enough for us.

Obviously that is not quite good enough for some people - on several occasions I have encountered horrified looks from people, even when I share the advice we were given:
  • wash hands after working on allotments
  • take care not to accidentally ingest soil
  • thoroughly wash and peel any produce
  • do not take young children to play there where they might eat the soil
  • pregnant women should probalby avoid eating root crops grown on the allotment 
When people ask if I am concerned, I point out that I am neither a small child, nor am I pregnant. And I certainly am not in the habit of eating soil.

I also note that I regularly ate fish while living in Central Asia, against Peace Corps advice. So I've probably already accumulated enough mercury to look forward to Alzheimer's in my old age. Besides which, my family has a history of dementia, so my genes are already against me. I figure a few slightly tainted vegetables aren't going to have much of an impact. And I don't use pesticides, so in general my fruit and veg are probably safer, if less unblemished, than supermarket produce.

But this kind of oversensitivity might explain why there are always plots available at the allotment.  

The Victorians were fantastic recyclers, and after all these years there isn't likely to be much left in the soil. But we do occasionally dig up bits and pieces of trash - animal bones, rusty keys, pottery shards, and best of all, glass bottle tops.

I have found two so far - a green stopper topped with a crown and a pale blue marble stopper. And thanks to google, I've been able to indentify both of them!

Victorian glass bottle tops

The pale blue marble is from a Codd-neck bottle, designed and patented in 1872 by British soft drink maker Hiram Codd of Camberwell, London. And the green one is from a Crown Perfumery bottle, launched in 1872 in London by William S. (Sparks) Thompson, an American industrialist from Connecticut.

I've added the green top to my small collection of green glass. I'm not much of a collector (other than of yarn!) because after initial enthusiasm I tend to lose focus. But maybe I should try to aquire a full Crown Perfumery bottle to add to my Blenko water bottle, Wedgewood candlestick, and mini-vase from Galeries Lafayette.

Green glass collection

I've put together a pinterest board with a few other ideas for green glass collectibles.

Follow Mikal's board Green glass on Pinterest.