There are always a heap of weeds in my veg bed, I pull out a lot in the spring but I always leave some of the borage, foxgloves, dandelions and poppies, plus a few edible things that come back every year, and occasional other weeds that look pretty. Pleased with the lack of competition, the chosen few grow into monsters. This year there has been a particularly fine crop of opium poppies, so much so that it is beginning to look like a drug-barons veg bed. There is veg in there somewhere, too. The veg would do better without the weeds, but I have happy bees 🙂
I am multi-tasking: I am picking black currants, and I am stroking Arthur. This is not the most efficient way to pick black currants, but it makes Arthur happy.
Arthur is also multi-tasking: he is being stroked and he is also being happy. He experimented for a while with the concept of sharpening his claws on my bottom at the same time as the other activities, but my sudden surprised yelps were intended to suggest that this was taking efficiency one step too far.
Apologies, venerable cactus,
that I do not have time to draw your portrait properly on your day of glory,
but the kitten is eyeing you beadily,
and I have work to do.
So you must return to your safe windowsill,
secure in the knowledge that you have outlived 6 cats already with no comment,
favouring us only with a rare spectacular display
to check that we are still paying attention.
Oh, and that I once spent 3 hours in A&E,
following an incident in which you were not entirely uninvolved.
Do not think that this greenhouse vigil is because it is warm and sunny in here, nor even because of the nice blanket one finds discarded by a careless owner. It is because of the frail and vulnerable Aubergine seedlings that one has discovered yet again stand out here without protection. Two nights ago one’s human forgot them entirely and left them out all night and they almost died, so one has to ask, if one’s human forgets the Aubergines, what else might be forgotten?
I thought I would draw something in the garden, so I had settled down to draw the veg patch, with its newly sprouted broad beans and its very fine rhubarb forcer. It is not an easy thing drawing outside in bright sunlight with this phone that I do the drawings on. The surface is too shiny and the brightness of the screen too weak, and it’s all reflections. And cats. It is especially hard to see through cats. And it is especially hard to draw when being circled by a certain orange person who will neither stay still for a portrait nor get out of the actual way. I did my best.
Arthur is ready! Spring is just around the corner. He knows this because he has once again found there are some small pots of compost which require guarding, and will no doubt become seedlings soon with the proper feline attention.
It is fortunate indeed that the pots seem ideally placed in front of the warm Rayburn for his convenience, because he was busy guarding that, too. One can never be to careful with Rayburns: several hundredweight of hot cast iron is liable to just wander off when nobody is looking.
I have a New Theory of Brambles and the pruning thereof. I have had a New Theory approximately once a year for the last six years or so. I am aware of the accepted horticultural Theory of Brambles; I posses a large book on the pruning of things, and I have even read it.
The problem is, the brambles are the wild illiterate boisterous sort, and they have not read the pruning book, hence, about once a year I have a New Theory of Brambles. I cut my brambles according to the current theory, I manage them, often for some months into the growing season, but at some point the Theory breaks down. Every time.
Still, we have a freezer full of blackberries, so I’m not doing too badly. Arthur and Percy have been overseeing the pruning work, they say the Theory is a good one this year.
Andrew and Tony, in the pub with The Pumpkin. The Pumpkin is drawn to scale, and this is the story of how it came to be there:
Despite Moorlynch being rich in gardeners, none of us had managed to grow a pumpkin of significant size for a centrepiece for the Harvest Auction last night; the ones which Percy has been zealously guarding are also modest in size, and I am happy to keep them in any case, as they are just too tasty.
So yesterday morning I set off determined deal with this pumpkin crisis and return with the biggest I could find. Deciding to stop in at the nice independent garden centre in preference to Salisbury’s – just in case – I was told, sorry, they didn’t have any. They had seen one however, just on the main road through a village not many miles away. It was on the roadside, acting as a ‘here be pumpkins’ sign.
So I didn’t stop at Sainsbury’s but drove off into the drizzle on a pumpkin hunt. Suddenly there it was, a BEAST of a thing.
Knocking on the door of the little farm shop I never knew existed, I found a charming elderly couple, and a lot more pumpkins, jars of things and other home-grown and home-made fare, all in their garage. The indoor pumpkins were smaller than their roadside kin, but some were still respectably hefty.
I explained that I was on the hunt for a pumpkin for the aforementioned auction, and could I please have the biggest in the garage. The lady said would I like the one on the roadside? I goggled and said I would love it. How much? A fiver. I goggled some more and said was she sure? and made a note to buy things in jars also. Oh yes, she’d just get the lads to bring another one down from the fields. The lads, I imagine, are of the strapping variety.
The only thing she wasn’t sure about was how I was going to pick it up, and she was afraid that she couldn’t help as she’d recently had a hip operation. They build them tough round here: she was probably pushing eighty but still felt she should apologise for her reduced pumpkin-hefting abilities.
I went out to survey the problem. Her husband was sent out too, in his slippers and anorak, with a stern warning to watch that hernia. I imagine he was no younger that she was. A pumpkin, in the rain, is not an easy thing to pick up and I have to say the task would have been quite impossible had I not looked at the thing (having tried and failed to actually get it entirely off the ground) and thought there would be no way we’d ever pick it up without some kind of lifting straps, even if I went home for reinforcements. At which point I suddenly realized why I had been carrying a blanket round in the boot of my car for the last 10 years. It was not for the purpose of safely packing paintings, nor for the warming of stranded roadside people, it was a pumpkin sling. All these years and I never knew!
At this point the rain decided we were getting too clever and decided to bucket down, but undeterred, and with me desperately trying to lift more pumpkin than my willing but quite possibly octogenarian assistant, we got the monster off the ground and into the car.
The Harvest Auction was a great success. You couldn’t fail to notice that it was to be that day with the monstrous fruit sitting as an equally successful roadside sign outside our pub now. It took four of us to manoeuvre it into the pub, whence it sold in the auction no fewer than 4 times (nobody actually wanting to keep it) until finally it settled upon being owned by Lyndon. Lyndon is no weakling but proper Somerset farming stock, probably from the same heritage as the elderly lady who said she probably shouldn’t lift it after her hip operation. After several pints at the end of the evening he wandered over, picked it up all on his own and, pausing only to smack his head on the door on the way out, went off with it. And that is the last I saw of it.
My apples are redder than your apples! Indeed they are, but my apples are heavily guarded. They are also few in number, and tiny, however, Arthur is a small fellow (at least, when he is next to Percy) so he feels they are the perfect size.
And if anyone doubts the redness of my apples, allow me to show you one I ate earlier:
Apologies for the break in cats, life has been rather full of late. It is fortunate therefore, that while I am dashing about jumping into rivers and suchlike, that I can leave the guarding of the pumpkins to Percy. This is a ‘Crown Prince’ (an F1 I’m afraid, but they taste superb), and such a fine specimen of course requires guarding only by the finest cats. And yes, it is blue. Blueish greenish greyish, but really quite blue in the right light.