Growing In A Pandemic; Highs & Lows, Reflections

Breakfast Of Champions
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

It’s getting to the time of year in the greenhouse where the majority of the grunt work is done, a time when I can sit back, enjoy the fruits of my haphazard “rough” labour and take time to cogitate on what’s gone right, what’s gone wrong and what’s going on in the wider world. Tomatoes, red onions, broad beans, climbing beans and grapes, along with chili and pepper plants of several varieties (some of which are flowering but yet to fruit) have all done well. Salad has been sparse and not great eating, the strawberries have had their moments, albeit fleeting and the climbing courgette turned out to be nothing of the kind (but that’s another story). As usual the peas flattered to deceive, proving that if I must grow them under glass I need to find a better way of shading them from the really intense heat. I promise myself never to grow another cucumber, I can’t even give them away and the pickled ones, although they look good in the jar, are a most unpleasant eating sensation, a bit like I imagine eating a slug would be. Not for the faint hearted.

In December 2019 the Johnson led Tory Government (I cannot bring myself to call it a conservative government) was returned with a stonking majority. There were several factors involved in this victory but for me the three main defining ones were the cult of Corbyn, which many “traditional” Labour voters would never buy into, the “Get Brexit Done” sloganeering, which many Labour voters wholeheartedly supported and the baffling decision by Nigel Farage to not stand viable candidates in winnable, marginal seats. As always, my analysis could be wrong. December, ironically enough, was when we first began to hear the news of an outbreak of a respiratory SARS-Covid disease in Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei province of China and the site of a laboratory rumoured to be deeply embroiled in “Gain Of Function” research into the possibility of weaponising viral diseases. I’m not about to bore you all with the history of the last 18 months or so. Those of us still surviving this “Deadly Global Pandemic” will all have our own stories and experiences and, no doubt, will know of someone who has Covid on their death certificate. Whether or not that person died of said disease or not hardly matters in our “Post Truth” world. The Tories, Globalist puppets or not are drunk on power and in thrall to SAGE. Labour offers no alternative and the other “main stream” parties are risible. If we ever get the chance, the lot of them need removing from the halls of power, never to return.

We were told it would only be three weeks to flatten the curve, before draconian lock-downs and mandatory masks became a thing. We were repeatedly told, once “vaccines” became available, we could think about returning to our “normal” way of life, but it hasn’t happened. As 2020 became 2021 and the “vaccination” programme reached full steam we were assured by Matt Hancock, Nadim Zahawi, Boris Johnson and others that “vaccine” passports wouldn’t become a thing, they were lying. We all knew that, right from the start, there would be no compulsion, coercion or mandate to “vaccinate”, this turned out to also be a massive misconception. On Saturday just gone I took the train from Penrith to Manchester, it was very busy but I’m happy to report that, although the tannoy continued the “mask up” mantra, most people ignored it. Manchester’s a busy place, a bit of a culture shock after the last several months and it was wet, but I made my way to my destination, passed several pleasant hours in a busy bar & returned to the station for the journey home. As busy as it had been on my arrival, the crowds of football supporters made it more so as I waited to board my train. At no point in my journey, or during my time in Manchester, was the subject (outside general conversation) of “vaccination” status raised. This is as it should be, I have no interest, beyond normal human curiosity, as to whether someone has been jabbed or not. It isn’t my business and although numerous talking heads would have you believe otherwise, it isn’t anyone else’s business either. I’ll never make my decision on who I do or don’t associate with on such a divisive premise. However, I think there’s a legitimate concern amongst many of us that some form of domestic ID system (based on “vaccination” status) will be proposed and probably implemented in the autumn. The lying bastards will continue to push for this and I have no doubt they do so with malign intent, rather than concern, as they claim, for the well being of the British people. We must stand against both coerced and mandatory “vaccination” and we must stand against being socially separated by whether or not we’ve allowed our immune systems to be boosted by an injection that neither prevents us from catching Covid, or prevents us from passing it on. My trip to Manchester proved this to me, as it should to anyone taking the slightest notice; if I don’t need to show my papers in August, why should I need to show them in October?

As for the mini Bash, it was great to meet up with some familiar faces and to meet some new ones. The whole event would have been tempered (possibly) with a female presence or two (Swiss Bobs fault) and enriched by the expected fish and chip lunch (Blame Gill here), but all in all a pleasant if occasionally rowdy few hours & the beer was good.

Purple Beans Pur-u-ple Beans
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

On to more interesting stuff and the highlights of the growing season, up to now. Although I initially despaired of this breed of bean, having lost one of only two I planted to a probably self inflicted mildewed stem (over watering at a guess) the results of the surviving plant have more than compensated. Very prolific with a sweet bean pod that can be served as either a “runner” type side dish or steamed for around 10 minutes before being plunged into iced water (to halt the cooking process) and served as part of a salad. Very tasty and great for the freezer too.

Prolific Pear Tomato
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

I’ve mentioned the yellow pear shaped tomato previously but even I’m surprised at just how prolific all four of these plants have been. The plum sized fruits (Solanum Lycopersicum) are a great all rounder. They eat well as a salad tomato when just ripening, I like my tomatoes firm to the bite and cook down well too. The narrow top is a little “woody” but the flesh is quite thick and there are few seeds. I’ll grow this one again, although I’ll probably cut down on plant numbers. Makes a great breakfast dish, cooked down with some red tomatoes, seasoning and the addition of a bit of spicy sausage and an egg (see featured image).

A Happy Surprise
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

Being the rough gardener I am I sometimes get seeds mixed up, not the best plan when many of them, especially courgette, squash and the like look so similar. I’d planted this particular specimen “blind”, believing it to be butternut squash and had considered digging it up due to lack of fruit when close inspection revealed what I’m guessing is a cantaloupe melon. It now has a companion and I look forward to it ripening to an edible state. Unlikely to plant again though, two melons cost £3 and they don’t need watering when you get them from the fruitier.

Wine, Juice, Jelly, Jam?
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

What can I say about my grape vine? I’m probably going to take around thirty pounds of grapes this year and again they’re a great all rounder, although I have no idea which variety they are, that knowledge being lost in the mists of time. I continue to consider making wine but I guess I’ll do what I’ve done in previous years, eat some, give some away, juice the rest & make a loose jelly which makes more than a passable honey substitute on the winter porridge.

Not A Liz Truss
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

The Greek tomatoes have settled down after their first season of acclimatising, they eat well as a salad tomato and cook down well. They’re full of taste with fleshy walls and little seed, I’m hoping to keep them going for a good while.  The St. Pierre on the other hand hasn’t done as well as I’d have liked, I get the feeling they aren’t really suited to the soil and consequently haven’t achieved much in the way of height or uniformity of fruit shape. A bit of a change around for 2021 I think, with more plum, more cherry varieties and a couple of “heirloom” varieties to pique the interest in terms of both flavour and colour.

Hungarian Hot Wax, Cosmopolitan Chili Farmer
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2021

The decision to grow chilies in pots, rather than directly in the ground seems to be paying off. All thirty of the plants are at some stage of fruit production, with these Hungarian “hot wax” and a couple of green bell peppers being the furthest on. Either I’ve developed a tolerance for chili or the hot wax aren’t as hot as I was led to believe, or they’re yet to fully mature. The flesh is nicely flavoured with a hint of sweetness, even if the spicy kick, which probably wouldn’t register on the Scoville scale just yet, is lacking up to now. Hopefully this will improve, I do have both Jalapeno and Birds Eye to fall back on.

Next time; Soup, 40 things to do… (Smardale honest), leeks and a rant of some kind….

© Colin Cross 2021

The Goodnight Vienna Audio file