A Country Diary: 24
16 June 2005
THESE SLUGS are getting on my nerves. Every time I go to the vegetable patch, some other plant has been attacked. It’s usually the lettuces (we still haven’t eaten a single letteuce despite having been lovingly cultivating them since March), but now the peas are succumbing. My pea plants, by the way, have gone completely crazy. I bought a variety called Alderman, without realising that they grow to six feet. These giant pea plants are swaying in the wind, and I keep trying new methods to keep them from falling over. They just won’t stop growing, it’s like Jack and the Beanstalk. There are now umpteen twigs, canes, rods, bits of chicken wire and sections of wire cages desperately trying to prop them up. No peas yet, needless to say. In fact, I don’t think we’ve eaten anything from the vegetable patch bar a few radishes since March and it’s now half way through June. Even the beetroots aren’t ready. Thank God for our box deliveries.
HOWEVER, I am holding out great hopes for the brassicas, whjich we will start eating in the autumn. The plants are looking very good indeed; there must be twenty brussells sporouts plants, the same number of kale and cabbage plus a few cauliflowers and broccoli plants. John Seymour says, “you can’t have enough Brussels Sprouts.” He also says “you can’t have enough peas,” and despite following his advice and planting umpten pea seeds we haven’t eaten a single pea yet.
WE WERE VISITED at the weekend by a gang of medieval troubadors. Calling themselves the Alabama 3, they travel the country and entertain the people in return for pieces of chicken, drugs and a bed for the night. Charming company and full of life, wit and generosity, they played a superb gig at the Lynmouth Music Festival, where they were joined by Arthur on stage, went to the pub, nearly got into a fight, and then came back to our house for a long dinner and more songs around the kitchen table. Singer Larry Love christened our farm “the acid house on the prairie” and sang “welcome to the hotel Tom and Victoria.” Their new album is called Outlaw and it really is superb.
ALL THE SQUASH plants, courgette, pumpkin and cucumber, simply keeled over and died as soon as I planted them in the soil in my new beds. I think maybe the soil is horribly poisoned or something. Finally I was given a giant courgette plant and that one seems to be hanging in there. It was a similar story with the French climbing bean plants. Half of them turned yellow and then simply withered and vanished completely. The nursery people told me to feed them, so I bought some fish and bone meal stuff and scattered that everywhere. That reveived some of the bean plants and it really worked wonders on the brassicas. I can’t work out whether things are going better or worse than last year. I don’t seem to have eaten many home-grown vegetables. Maybe I have put too much thought into it this year, and I need to relax. Also, I seem to remember having onions, garlic and spring onions last year, which did look good in the veg patch.
I TOOK delivery of four new hens to replace the ones that Foxy wiped out. So far, so good. After a slow start, they are each laying an egg a day and my new security system has so far kept Foxy away. They are also quite amusing company. You can pick them up and sroke them and Delilah in particular has taken to them, which is good as it’s all part of my cunning plan to get the children working for us instead of the other way round. The idea is that Delilah will look after the chickens and get the eggs, because she will enjoy it. This is called the mixing of work and leisure.