A View From (Quite Near To) The Greenhouse; All Change, For More Of The Same

Spring, Well & Truly Sprung!
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

I may have mentioned, last time around, that the sheep are returned from their winter sojourn on the hills surrounding Patterdale and Glenridding. As yet we have only hogget in the back field, so the noise is minimal, although they can be quite feisty. I’ve no doubt that it won’t be long before there’s a bit of a swap around and we get to enjoy the lambs, gamboling across the pasture and playing chase with each other. We’ll also get to listen to them crying for their mothers for an hour or so after dark, until they either find them or give up looking and go to sleep, before starting again at daybreak. Truly one of the great joys of life in this rural, backwater idyll.

Maintenance & Buildings Dept Done. Awaiting Horticulture
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

The work to the outside space is now all but completed, with the chicken wire fence fully installed, the gate fitted with a latch and the wall into the uncut log/glass sheet/pallets/scrap wood/glass collecting bucket store, created from multi-wall poly-carbonate, erected and made (hopefully) rabbit proof. This hasn’t been a two minute job and it’s needed patience, a bit of guile and no small amount of skill. I could have done it, I suppose, but I doubt I’d have made as professional a job of it, in anything like the same time, as our newly named “Maintenance & Buildings Department” and its management team (the shy fellow). All we have to do now is wait for it to warm up a bit and stop raining, then we can get on with the proper business at hand. Growing stuff!

Horticulture Dept. On Site
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

A short break in the abysmal weather afforded me the opportunity to install the cane tripods for the three types of climbing beans I intend to (eventually) plant out and to erect the pea mesh. So far the plan to germinate the peas in compost and plant out as seedlings has been a spectacular failure. Accordingly, I’ve taken a gamble and planted thirty or so seeds, which (presuming they all germinate) I may, or may not thin out. The broad beans are in the wrong place, I should have put the potatoes at the more shaded end of the plot, but we live and learn. at least they’ve had a bit of protection from the worst of the weather and, more importantly, they’re still standing.

Leeks From Seed? Let’s see
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

I’ve fiddled about with leeks (not without some decent success) in the past, buying them as young plants and planting them out in a prepared plot once they’re mature enough. I’m trying a different tack this year. I did try to grow a tray in the cloche, but that particular experiment failed (it may have been the old seed I was using). Any road up, I’ve tidied up the other half of the onion bed and planted three rows of leeks from some new seed, again, I’ll probably thin them out once they’re established, dependent on levels of germination.

To Plant Out, Or Not To Plant Out?
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

Some of the beans, which I optimistically set to germinate in February. I was hoping for the chance to get them in the ground by now, for early cropping (possibly) with maybe a chance at a second planting. Three nice runners, two French climbers and two (rather shy) dwarfs. I don’t suppose they’ll take too much harm, hardening off in the greenhouse, but I may have to pot them on if things outside don’t show some improvement. When all I had to think about was planting under glass I didn’t have to worry too much about timings of seed planting, this must be what they mean when they talk about lessons being learned.

© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

The assorted pepper and chilli seeds have been quite slow to germinate, but we’re eventually seeing some progress. The “yawked up” cloche has been a real help, allowing me to have an intermediate stage between germination and final hardening off for these quite fragile plants. I put in some jalapenos, more in hope than expectation, but they seem to be doing the best of all. As an aside; although the first jar of green tomato and jalapeno chutney I opened (at Christmas) didn’t have the flavour I’d expected, the second (and subsequent) jar, having had a further three months to mellow and mature is a completely different animal, with less acidity, a deeper flavour and a mild, but noticeable, chilli heat . A friend of my eldest, who’s a bit of a “cheese n’ chutney” fan, tells me it’s as good as any homemade pickle she’s ever tasted. Maybe she was angling for a jar for herself?

The Main Nursery (Tomato Corner)
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

The cold frame’s been getting some good use, I have another small batch of tomato seeds germinating (just in case) and it’s early days (in this picture) but I have over thirty viable looking tomato plants, comprising of (I think) half a dozen varieties. The yellow climbing courgette seeds, which I’ve had for several years now, have also germinated successfully and I still have two left in the packet. Although I do tend to discard older seed, I’m quite fond of this particular plant and its fruit. As with the vast majority of “Cucurbita” squash, there’s no great flavour to them but they do have their uses. They carry other flavours well and, as previously mentioned, due primarily to their consistency, but also their lack of any real discernible taste, they make a great natural thickener for tomato soup, of which I’m hoping there’ll be copious amounts, come the end of September.

If At First..And All That
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

At my youngest’s insistence I’m having another go at producing a viable pineapple plant. I’ve had a look on t’interweb and I seem to be getting the method right, so I can only surmise I’ve been planting at the wrong time. We’ll see how it goes this time, if nowt else the success (or otherwise) of this endeavour will give me something to write about besides tomatoes, beans and chilies. I don’t want anyone to get bored.

Fail To Prepare, Prepare To Fail
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

The last job of last week was preparing the tomato plantation. If you cast your mind back, you may remember it being more to the back of the house last season, but I like to rotate and I’ve prepared four rows of ten. The holes have been dug, fertilised, watered (to activate the manure), back-filled and marked with canes (amongst other things). The two steel pipes act as diverters for the hose. The old lorry tarp did its job and the ground was virtually weed free when it was exposed. The area behind (under the blue tarp) is where the capsicums are going to go. I’ll find a spot for the finger aubergines, once (and if) they ever germinate. the cucumbers, which are currently being looked after by the maintenance department, will end up on the left side, to the rear of the trough.

Scotland is again in a little bit of political turmoil following the breakdown of the SNP/Green “rapprochement” which came about when First Minister, Humza Yousaf, or more likely an advisor realised that the “Net Zero” bollox was, in fact, bollox. Of course, they won’t admit it, there’s neither political capital or big business funding in reality, but the upshot is that Mr. Yousaf has “fallen on his scimitar” as it were. I won’t go into the ins and outs of his tenure as First Minister, to my mind he’s been (as he was in his previous posts) an abject failure, but others may well disagree, although anyone who thinks he’s been a success has a bad case of ideological blindness (in my opinion).

In June 2020, whilst serving as Cabinet Member For Justice, Mr Yousaf made a speech in Holyrood which many people considered to be an “anti-white” racist diatribe, to be fair to him, although his method of delivery was caustic, to say the least, he was only stating the truth about the subject on which he was speaking. The debate following the speech, especially on Social Media, was as polarising as one would expect. A similar debate has now arisen, following comments made on LBC about the incidences of violent crime and links to certain ethnic and (dare I say it), cultural groups. The facts are irrefutable, over the last several years, a minority group of people have been disproportionately responsible for violent (especially knife) crime in our Capital city and the wider UK. The chap who made this point on the radio had as much right to air his factually based views (although he doesn’t share parliamentary privilege) as the erstwhile First Minister had but doing so led him to being branded a “racist”. I’d make the point that if Mr. Yousaf wasn’t being “racist” (as his supporters would claim), then neither was the fellow on the radio. “Free” speech mustn’t ever become the preserve of the protected, privileged few, however unpalatable the “Progressive Liberal” cognoscenti may find it, facts are facts and feelings don’t come into it, although there’s a debate to be had as to why said violence is on the rise. I know what I think, but maybe that’s better left for another day. Whoever succeeds Mr. Yousaf, I don’t expect much to change north of the border, although I do think Scots deserve much better than that which they’ve been served by seventeen years of The SNP being in power.

© Colin Cross 2024