It’s been a month now since I last posted from the greenhouse, although, somewhat thankfully, it hasn’t been a month since I visited it. With the arrival of spring we see ewes and lambs arriving on the land which adjoins my little plot and I’ve taken it upon myself, as a form of payment I suppose, to ensure they have a plentiful supply of water. I’ve recently replaced my hose attachment, the old one, although handy, had outlived its usefulness and it didn’t have an “off” switch, which was a bit of a pain. I replaced it with a B&Q plastic jobby, a rip off at £10 and I should have known better, but I somehow never seem to learn. Anyway, the old one would sit in the cast iron bath we use as a trough without any trouble, happily doing the job it was given, this new one, shorter, lighter (but with an “off” gizmo) refused to stay put. I didn’t fancy climbing backwards and forwards over the barbed wire fence, so I “Heath Robinsoned” a hoe and my trusty old rake to keep the bloody thing in the water. The Cumbrian “yawk up” way of doing things wins the day again.
Over the weeks things have moved on, and I’ve been both lucky in some ways (plant wise) and unlucky in others. The tomatoes in the nursery are all doing well, they’re the ones that self seeded and I decided to give a chance to, I have no idea what breed they are, so much for my determination to do better on this side of things. Conversely, the 30 odd plants I have in my window, which should be ready by now for potting on, and which I do know the breeds of are a very sorry looking bunch of plants. As I two finger type this missive it’s my intention to move them to the cold frame tomorrow (Monday) in the hope they’ll accept the challenge of turning into viable plants, ready to be “bedded in” to the fertilised soil before the end of May.
The many and various chili and pepper seeds are now germinated (mostly) and show all the signs of becoming viable, healthy plants. I’m hoping to be able to move them from their smaller pots (above) and into their final larger pots by the beginning of June, if last year is anything to go by I should be harvesting fruits within a month of this. Lots of new and different breeds this year too, so the excitement, if I can truly call it that, is palpable. Can’t wait to see the Cuban peppers forming and to taste them, apparently they aren’t as hot as the ones we usually see, but do tend to be fruitier and sweeter. Looking forward to to it.
Not incredibly exciting, but I’ve got half a dozen broad beans in the ground which all seem to be doing well, I’m expecting big things from them. I’m going to not make the mistake of leaving the plants on the pods for too long this year and I’m going to net them, too. Harvest regularly and freeze what doesn’t get eaten is the plan, whether or not I stick to it, there’s another matter altogether. Behind the beans you can just see the tops of the Charlotte potatoes breaking through, we should be eating these from mid June onwards, I have some “main crop” quite a bit further on, but they make good eating if they’re picked as soon as they’re ready. I’ve yet to formalise any arrangement with the owners of the new village farm shop enterprise about taking excess crops, in exchange for bacon and honey, but the initial conversation was more than amicable. I do like a barter.
Another attempt to create a “cut and come again” salad bed, as with most things I experiment with, the good is, more often than not, accompanied by the bad. The mix of sieved soil and compost works as a growing medium and seems to be producing healthy plants, lettuce, which I sowed in compost last year took a long time to reach a “pickable” size, but this time around they seem to be off to a good start, similarly the radish, which are really tasty and prolific. The small patch in front of the Mizuna (an oriental salad leaf with a peppery, sweet taste) has been studiously weeded and sown with a mix of smaller green and red leaves and a little rocket for bite. I’m hoping I’ve got the balance right, the intention to be self sufficient in this type of crop until at least October.
When I relaid the strawberry beds I knew I needed to do something different, the compost (sometimes 50% peat, sometimes not), which I’ve renewed every year, hasn’t produced the vibrancy of colour in the leaves, which have often looked as if they’re only alive because they cant be bothered to die off, nor any consistency in the fruit, either in size or shape, although the taste has mostly been very good. I know I’m repeating myself here, but I used the root mass from the previous years growth as a bed, then applied the sieved soil & compost mix (50% peat) which I’ve used in the salad raised bed. This is the result, the weeds are an ongoing problem, but I’m dealing with them in my usual half hearted way, I’m not letting them get a real hold or any real size about them as I spend fifteen minutes or so every visit plucking them out by the roots, the chickweed is a bugger though, with its strong deep root. Having said that, they look great, the plants are stood up, the flowers are vibrant and the already forming fruit looks as if it’ll be both more consistent in shape and more prolific in cropping.
The greenhouse itself is looking good, Mrs C did her bit and offered herself up as reserve weeding technician this last week (more of which later) and made a good start, the glass is clean, apart from the odd crow crap and the vine, which I’m always happy to see coming into leaf is doing very well indeed. We’ve had some half decent weather, about a dozen peas are through and four climbing beans (of twelve which I’ve direct planted) are coming through. I do have some back ups if needs be, so long as they germinate, which they may not, as they’re “old stock” which will definitely need replacing before next year.
We’ve got past spending lavish amounts of money on Christmas presents and instead we chucked some money in the pot and decided to have a weekend away with the girls, Bath being the destination chosen by a majority vote. I wanted to go to Whitby, but I found myself in the minority (of one). I didn’t fancy the drive down on Good Friday, but it was surprisingly painless, given the closure on the M6 and we made it in just over 5 hours, with a stop. We had a couple of beers and a sandwich before spending a relaxing afternoon at the Thermae Bath Spa, where I took full advantage of the steam rooms, the pool and the ice room, all very civilised. We dined well at Sotto Sotto, highly recommended, had a nightcap or two and retired for the evening, well satisfied. I’d made one of my “principled” (Yorkshire based) stands and decided not to visit The Roman Baths with the others, considering it rather too expensive, in retrospect a wrong decision, but we live and learn. I decided to have a walk around the city and along the River Avon with my camera and see if I could get a feel for the pace, it’d been almost 50 years since I was last in town. Some might call if fate, but it’s more likely just happenstance, but my decision, based on my inbred parsimony, led me into a brief but very interesting encounter.
I strolled along the banks of the Avon on the town side, before crossing a footbridge and heading towards a small row of canal boats, thinking I’d get a picture or two. I was quite happy, minding my own business and, before too long, I came to the junction of the river and the Kennet and Avon Canal. As I approached the locks I saw two guys gathering plants, one looked like a black African and the other one (I rightly assumed) was mixed race of West Indian heritage, he had his “Dreads” in the ubiquitous hat and was dressed all in white, including an apron, with pockets, which was decorated with symbols. I exchanged pleasantries with them and was set to go about my business when the West Indian guy stopped me, came up very close and said (his words in italics); “You okay my friend”? I turned to face him and asked what he meant, with this he put his hands on my shoulders and leveled them up, I’ve had a tendency to walk a little lob sided since I injured my shoulder. “You’ve got a problem there man, I can tell”. Not a difficult spot, but I was intrigued, he was staring right into my face now, inches away, but I didn’t feel threatened or intimidated in any way. The other guy was gathering some leaves from a tree on the other side of the canal and putting them in a bag with the rest of the foliage he’d been collecting. “We’re gathering plants for a cleansing bath, it’ll be his second session, I’m sort of a healer”.
Being the sceptic I am, but also being someone very interested in people, I didn’t walk away. He removed his hands from my shoulders and lifted my chin; “you’re restricting your thorax, you should hold your head up when you breathe, it helps to get the maximum of oxygen into your lungs, you have some trouble with your breathing, yes”? I couldn’t deny it, but before I could really speak he carried on, all the time staring directly at me, never seeming to blink; “are you strong”? How do you mean I replied, If you mean physically I don’t suppose I am, but I like to think I have mental strength. “That’s good”, he said, “now, form your dominant hand into a two knuckle fist, place it under my heart and push me away from you, this is where our core lives”. This guy must weigh about eleven stone, wet through, but I could tell he was fit. As hard as I pushed, I couldn’t move him, he stood face on to me, his legs slightly apart, smiling at my consternation. He then did the same to me and I couldn’t stand still, no matter how hard I tried. He laughed, went to the grassy bank and picked a big handful of stinging nettles, “grasp these tightly in your bad hand”. I hadn’t mentioned the shoulder problem was a trapped nerve, or that my right hand has been partially numb for two years.
I did as he asked and immediately felt the sting, but it wasn’t unpleasant, just tingly; “The Romans knew all about nettles, I use them a lot as cleansing agents, both internally and externally, you know this is a Roman city”? I said I did;“The symbols on my apron, they’re Masonic symbols, they’re supposed to be secret, but I wear them openly to prove I won’t be held under the influence of symbolism. There are some very high up people in Bath, all Masons, all with massive influence over the country and the government, they live quietly, in their big houses, but they’re not good people”. With this, he turned back to the bank, gathered a larger bunch of nettles, crushed them and put them under my shirt, on my right shoulder, held in place by my camera strap. The sensation on my shoulder was similar to the feeling I’d had in my hand and he told me to keep them there as long as I felt able. “I have to go, this guy is having a de-tox bath and I’m running late now, give me your number and I’ll text you my website details. Maybe we can grab a coffee before you leave (I’d told him we were only in Bath for two nights), read up about nettles and also check out breathing exercises, don’t put too much faith in doctors, don’t believe everything you’re told about Covid, don’t ever think any government is acting in your best interests. Take care”.
With that they left, I went on my way, got rid of the nettles after fifteen minutes or so and reflected on the encounter. Later that day I got a text with a link, nothing else, no request for cash, no request to meet up and that, I thought, was that. By the time I got home on Easter Sunday evening I had a sore throat and a temperature (completely unrelated, I’m certain) and I could feel the start of a cough. My health hasn’t been great in recent times, I’ve had “Covid” twice, and now viral bronchitis (mild pneumonia) twice, on top of the shoulder injury, the ongoing hip/back problem and the old “Black Dog” is never too far away. I’m also, as some of you may be aware, double “vaccinated”. I knew when I took the first jab I wasn’t being immunised, but I convinced myself to believe that I was getting my immune system boosted, I now believe I was wrong to think that.
I now firmly believe that these so called “vaccines” are compromising my immune system and the immune systems of many other people. I think these recurring illnesses, along with fatigue, aching joints and the inability to shake off mild infections (I hardly left the house between Easter Monday and Friday just gone) are collateral damage. I think this is the fabled “Long Covid” and I think, wittingly or unwittingly, we’ve been given it. Whether for the purposes of profit, Global domination through fear, or a combination of both is still a bit of a mystery, but I now have little doubt “they” know what they’ve done and “they” don’t care. I sincerely hope “they” get what’s coming to “them”, but, whatever happens in the future, the words of my new Rastaman friend have never rung so true.
“Don’t believe everything you’re told about Covid, don’t ever think any government is acting in your best interests”.
© Colin Cross 2022