A View From (Inside) The Greenhouse; A Rift In The Political Continuum

Paved (With Good Intentions)
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

No rest for the wicked, also, or so it seems, no rest for Dave, who continues to throw himself, wholeheartedly, at the creation and preparation of our outdoor growing area. After much discussion about the merits, or otherwise, of a central path (given the storage space to the rear of this structure is still virtually intact) the path was duly approved, by a majority of 1-0, with one abstention (I’ve always wanted to be an abstainer) and then duly laid. A moment of dudgeon was had when one of the slabs (weakened by time, clearly) broke on being placed, but slabs are like panes of glass on our little plot, there’s always one lying around somewhere and the broken one was duly replaced. We didn’t throw it away though, you never when a broken slab might come in handy!

“Ploughing & Fertilisation? Done (For Now)
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

Following the third pass with the rotorvator I got my turn to contribute and I’ve dressed the turned over soil with 2 kilo’s of chicken manure and the same amount of bone-meal, to put a bit of nutrition back into the ground. A couple of visitors, who know about such things (Dave and Dave, not my Dave) have been effusive in their approval of the colour and apparent quality of the soil on show. Forester Dave, in particular, was fulsome in his commendation, proclaiming “That looks a bit of alright”. High praise indeed.

Throw Nowt Away, It’ll Come In Handy, One Day
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

I’ve never covered the ground (pre-planting out) before. I’ve considered it on more than one occasion, but always balked at how much it might cost to purchase the membrane, against any benefit it may afford. Whilst we were finishing clearing the detritus form the “other place” Dave happened upon a rolled up old wagon tarp, it was a bit brittle in the middle but we managed to save enough to cover around 300 square feet and we utilised some plastic sheet and other bits and bobs to cover much of the rest of the growing space. Hopefully the weeds will see this as the correct level of discouragement and finally back off, although I won’t be holding my breath. I’m sure it’ll make at least a small difference in the early part of the season.

Short Back And (Compost Bin) Sides
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

One thing you don’t do with Dave is badger him. He has a list of jobs (as long as his arms) and he like to tackle them in some kind of order. For a while now, I’ve been using the nudge unit to get some sides (and a back) cut for the compost heap, I suppose I could have just got on and done it myself, but a couple of things precluded me from doing so. Firstly, it isn’t my department and secondly, and probably most importantly, it wouldn’t have mattered which type of material I used (I was leaning towards multi-wall poly-carbonate, of which we have a small reserve) it wouldn’t have been right for the job. Any road up, we both happened to be in the vicinity of the ‘heap’ when I tentatively broached the subject (again). Within minutes the tape was out, the saw was sawing and 3 pieces of off-cut sterling board were in place. I’ve also learned, just this last week, that leaving the surface of the compost exposed aids decomposition. Every day’s a school day for us rough old gardener types.

Weed Free Strawberries? We Can But Hope
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

I think I’ve mentioned in the past that I’ve been considering trying to grow the strawberries through a permeable membrane. I’ve bitten the bullet and gone ahead with the idea. This “before and after” shot might give the idea of what I’m trying to do, but I should be a bit further on by next time. I’ve transplanted 100 of the best plants I had over-wintering in the cold frame and given them a little feed to encourage some root growth before I put them into their growing beds. I’ve been guilty of over-watering them in the past, maybe this will help. It’s going to take a bit longer to keep them hydrated, but I’ll be able to target each plant individually. Checking for overall “moistness” won’t be too hard either. Let’s wait and see if it works.

Tomato Trays, Ready!
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

Dave (Forester Dave) is having a bit of a clear out in his greenhouse, which he doesn’t really use much these days and he came across two heated seed trays (something I’ve never possessed) which he asked if I might be able to make use of. The usual tomato routine is; airing cupboard in multi-pots until 2-3 inches tall, then transplant into 4 inch pots to harden off on a south facing upstairs windowsill, then into the greenhouse during the day and cold-frame overnight, before planting out. I’m starting them off in the shed (in the heated trays) this year. 36 initially, though I may do a few more further down the road. Given the greenhouse (touch wood) is now more or less weatherproof, I’m hoping to cut out the windowsill bit and harden off in the greenhouse. More work again, but, if it works, I’m hoping it’ll produce stronger plants.

Who Needs A B&Q?
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

It might not be a common occurrence in our larger urban conurbations, but out here in the sticks we’ve managed to maintain one or two quirky weekend traditions that feed the soul in both their simplicity of purpose and their wholesomeness. In February, every year, the village hall in one of the larger rural settlements of the north Cumbrian hinterland holds a seed potato sale. I’d visited on a previous occasion, but Dave, being new to the more serious side of the gardening game, wasn’t even aware of its existence. It’s quite something, when seen as a microcosm of rural life, although urbanites, who likely buy such things at B&Q probably wouldn’t get it, or they’d see it as a parochial throwback. The hall’s packed with people ruminating over (before purchasing their choice of) a wide range of potato varieties, rhubarb plants, fruit trees, onion sets, garlic, rare and heritage variety vegetable seeds and gardening ephemera. It’s noisy, friendly and the queues are both long and good humoured. The “craics” good and there’s advice about all manner of things both gardening and country. A surprising number of younger people too, although country folk of all ages know that potatoes and the like don’t appear, as if by alchemy, on supermarket shelves. Somebody, somewhere, has to get their hands dirty.

Rhubarb, Rhubarb, Rhubarb
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

I tried rhubarb in the greenhouse some years ago, without much success, the patch we did have, under the plum tree died back a couple of years ago and it’s a pretty awkward spot to get too, but now we have (almost) an outside area we can hopefully have a decent crop over the coming years. We bought this old English heritage variety (the name escapes me) which is supposed to be quite hardy and I’ll transfer the contents of the pots directly into the ground, once it’s prepared.

Might Clean This Up, Could Come In Handy
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

I’ve long (for about 30 years or so) though that, in the main, politics is lacking in gravitas. That isn’t the only thing it’s lacking in, of course; There’s, brevity, honesty, integrity, intelligence, humility, endeavour, pragmatism and self-awareness as well (this list isn’t exhaustive). Thangam Debbonaire wants us to believe “Land Of Hope And Glory” is “alienating” to some people, but then, she is the MP for Bristol West. More worryingly, she’s likely to be a minister in the next government . The new MP for Rochdale, who’s famous as much for pretending to be a cat, in an attempt to get into the pants of Rula Lenska as he is for any political achievement, is rumoured to be (possibly) joining forces with “Jezza” Corbyn to create a new “workers” party. I’m sure a certain Ms. Pidcock will be most excited at that prospect. Meanwhile, our unelected PM takes to the lectern (ironically, in an attempt at showing gravitas) to inform the nation that he isn’t having any of this old “far right” extremism and the bobbies had better be taking notice. The bobbies duly made a small group of protesting veterans remove their Union Flags from a barrier, thereby “crushing” a “far right” extremist cell, but refused to tackle Islamist extremists and their “far left” confederates because they (the bobbies) felt outnumbered. We all know the “far right” isn’t the problem, but that won’t stop politicians and the media useful idiots claiming it is.

James Cleverly, tasked with “stopping the boats” has seen 977 illegals land  on our shores in the last 7 days. One has to assume this summer’s going to be very busy. Sadiq Khan treats London as a personal fiefdom, unwilling to accept any criticism of his tenure whilst he blithely blames others for his many and various failings, and he can’t pronounce his “g’s” either. Everything that UK politicians should be concerning themselves with (and that ordinary citizens truly care about) is broken (almost) beyond repair, yet we continue to spend money as if it’s going out of fashion, on overseas aid, foreign wars and the like, whilst the £billions of national debt stands at around 96.5% of GDP. Politics is broken. There’s no centre ground, if you don’t buy the narrative and/or follow the agenda, you’re another “far right” extremist, even if all you want is a functioning NHS, a decent standard of living, a properly controlled border, a judicial system that works for all, an end to benefit fraud, a reasonably priced and reliable energy supply and the right to say what you think without the threat of a prison sentence hanging over you. Continuity Bliarism is the only offer on the table and, if you don’t like it, that’s tough. I could go on, there are 650 of them in the Commons, 827 of them in The Lords and countless more driving our councils into the ground, with their pronoun policies, diversity drives and “green” initiatives, yet the potholes get deeper and the Zoom meetings get longer. I don’t know what this next few years is going to bring, but I do know, unless I miss my guess, things are going to get far, far worse before they get any better.

© Colin Cross 2024