The weather continues to perplex and frustrate in equal measure. Just over a month ago I was writing about the greenhouse being unbearable to work in, past noon, as temperatures climbed into the low hundreds Fahrenheit. For over a week now it’s rained almost constantly and progress on many fronts, plant wise, is out of kilter with the norm. Some would have us believe these vagaries are as a result of the presence of a trace gas in our atmosphere, causing the sea to boil in one part of the world, arsonists to strike indiscriminately in another part of the world (no doubt driven mad by the lies) and cricket matches to be washed out in Manchester. The BBC, the Met Office and assorted talking heads need to get their stories straight. One minute they predict the end of the world as we know it, if we don’t move into mud huts, eat bugs and burn animal dung for a little bit of warmth. The next minute they tell us the Jet Stream’s moved! I assume they expect us to put two and two together, make five, and make it our fault that an unpredictable wind phenomenon, which has presumably existed since virtually the dawn of time, can change its course on strength depending how often I use my car and how much tax I pay for the privilege of doing so. What a load of right old bollox.
A quick nod in the direction of my long suffering local pub (mentioned on this august platform ad infinitum), it’s reopened to good reviews, it’s clean, the lights are working, the dead space between the bar and restaurant is now a kind of old style snug, the food’s decent without being either overly adventurous or overly expensive (with pies made fresh on the premises) and the innkeepers are seasoned hostelry managers. I’ve said it before, I know, but this may really be its last chance. If you’re in the Keswick, Penrith area this summer you could do worse than book a table (or even a room) at The Herdwick Inn, Penruddock.
I think the basil’s ready to pot on, I like to have plenty of it by the middle of July, in anticipation of plates of bruschetta being created at least two or three times a week. The tomatoes though aren’t quite playing ball although I anticipate no more than a short delay, because, as I’ll come too, progress (of sorts) is being made. It’s just as well really, because the next time I post my fortnightly missive, it will be the village flower show review edition (I’ll bet you can hardly wait) and it wouldn’t be right not to have at least a couple of entries in the ripe tomato section.
The bean plantation has become something of a dogs breakfast. The purple runners (a type of french climbing bean) took it upon themselves to virtually die back to nothing over the last weekend, for no reason I can discern. Growing beans under glass (hopefully we’ll have them outside next year) isn’t ideal. They don’t do too bad when it’s hot, but cool damp weather seems to affect them more inside than it would if they were outside (I think). The ordinary runners are starting to die back and I’ll take a big harvest this next week. The french beans have been alright, but they’re nearly done now, too. Let’s hope we get the outside plot ready, this back end. Apart from the Cavalo Nero the other brassicas aren’t doing so well either, I’m guessing the problems a similar one.
It isn’t all doom and gloom, the grapes are starting to fill out and ripen nicely. I do have a bit of botrytis, but this isn’t rare and it doesn’t (fingers crossed) really affect too many bunches. I have high hopes for something of a bumper harvest, fingers crossed and I’m going to make one last attempt at making a grape “jelly” following the spectacular failures of recent years. I did get it right, four or five years ago, but me being me, I forgot the formula. The result though was a sharp, viscous grapey preserve which was perfect with morning porridge. Fingers crossed for both plenty of grapes and a set!
I put a short row of parsnip in earlier this year, testing the water really, to see if I could grow them successfully enough to put a few more in to grow on into the autumn and winter. Back to the drawing board, I think, because although they came out of the ground clean and with a decent sweet flavour, all eight of them had set off roots in several different directions. Unusually (for me) I’ve done a bit of research and think I should be planting them in a better draining medium and holding the water back a bit. The tops actually looked magnificent, so what was underground turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. That’s growing, I suppose.
I’m not certain, but I have a feeling this particular tomato (which is starting to ripen) is the fourth incarnation of seed I brought back from Greece in 2019. Last year the fruits (if it is the same seed, I get confused) weren’t anywhere near as regularly shaped as these are, although they were very tasty. I’ve almost put last years debacle behind me now and it’s a relief to see some fine healthy produce coming through. Bruschetta this weekend, all being well.
Three different vegetables, three distinctly different out comes. The second planting of beetroot has been almost a complete failure, leaving me no alternative other than to not enter that particular show category, for which, earlier in the year I had high hopes. The red onions have been a good example of the proverbial “curates egg”. I do have three to enter and I’ve won first prize consistently in the past, but this year, although they aren’t bad, I’ve far fewer to choose from and they haven’t achieved anything like the size I normally achieve. The leeks, on the other hand, are better than they’ve ever been. They’re making good eating now, with a good balance of white and green and I’m pretty sure they’ll grow on nicely into soup season. There isn’t a leek section in the show!
This unusual cherry tomato is grown from a seed sent to me by a “twitter pal”. It’s originally from Cuba and it’s my third year of trying to grow it. I always though it turned from green to a purple black before being ripe enough to eat, but apparently (which I’ve obviously never seen happen) it turns a bright yellow when fully ripened. I’m hoping this year it’ll finally aclimatise and I’ll get to eat it. If not, I’ll probably give it up as a bad job.
Putting aside whether or not you fully subscribe to the theory that the whole of the western political diaspora has been captured by the UN/WHO/WEF cabal or not, the reality of the current situation, regarding how we’re governed and by whom, asks far more questions than it answers. It’s particularly interesting (or infuriating) to me when viewed from two related current situations. “Net Zero”, much loved of Boris and Carrie Johnson, is in the “news” following the result of the by-election in (ironically) Johnsons’ former constituency. The lunacy of ULEZ, as envisioned by Sadiq Khan, in his perennially failing but ongoing attempts to stabilise what he calls “lack of funding” (£1.9 billion is a lot of bus tickets) for his TfL project is cited as the main reason for this somewhat hollow victory. The useless, sclerotic Tories have now latched onto this single crumb of comfort and have suddenly become “the motorists friend”. Never mind all the garbage they’ve spewed about boiling polar bears and how we have to eat bugs and burn badger poo to keep warm, now, all of a sudden, they become “our friend”. The same people who have lied consistently and blatantly, about so much more than the “Klimate”, the EU, excess deaths (23,400 currently, over the 5 year average), nepotistic contracts for cronies, the devastating effects of unnecessary lock-downs, vaccines that are anything but and who consistently refuse to give us anything approaching the truth about the Russia/Ukraine conflict now assume we’ll vote for them because they approve a few oil licenses? Watch closely now as Labour also rolls back on its “Green” commitments. We deserve better, we all know this, but will we get it by voting (or not voting) for it, or will we have to fight, tooth and nail for it? I’m beginning to think the tide will never turn now, unless we take a hand in it.
Just to finish, and just slightly unrelated, a tweet I saw earlier, from @GeezerDel sums up the current madness we are all living through; “I never thought I’d grow old in a world where my teenage daughter owning a car would be frowned upon, but choosing to have her breasts removed would be celebrated”.
Food for thought!
Next Time; Village Show Review, Pub Grub Review, Bruschetta Review, some hooptedoodle
© Colin Cross 2023