A View From The Greenhouse; Doctors, Architects, Aspiring DJ’s

Corn Knife, Sickle, Halberd?
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

They keep turning up, farm implements of indeterminate age, mostly bladed and mostly without shafts. It seems unlikely that his particular scimitar like implement is either a sickle or scythe; I’m guessing it had a long handle too, so it’s unlikely to be a corn knife. I’d be interested to know, the sickles and scythes we’ve come across have offset blades, which this (clearly) hasn’t. Either way, we’ll get a new shaft for it and add it to the collection. One never knows when such a thing might well come in handy.

Hope Over Expectation
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, or so they say. Accordingly, having (against my better judgement and more in hope than expectation) planted out some kohl rabi and beetroot seedlings I though it would make sense to do my best to protect them from pigeons and rodents. The sides of an old rabbit hutch, which had been put to one side some years ago “in case they come in handy” did, in fact, do just that and so far they’re doing the job. Of course, I didn’t have the same worries about the red onion sets and left them exposed to nature, figuring that they wouldn’t be the first menu choice of the larger pests we sometimes attract. Cats don’t care how much work we humans put in to grow a bit of produce, a cat will find somewhere, probably miles away from where it lives (and where it’s provided with a tray full of litter) dig a shallow hole and do a sh*t in an onion bed, just (I’m guessing) for the heck of it. Needless to say, there’s now a mesh cover over the onions. We haven’t come across a sharp toothed animal trap so far but, if we do, I may well have a use for it!

“Chitted”, Well And Truly
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

I’ve planted three short stitches of potatoes, with another two scheduled to go in on Tuesday and that’ll be all the first earlies in. I have half a dozen second earlies for late April planting and a bag each of pink fir apple and desiree. I wouldn’t normally grow main crop potatoes, but as we’ve moved outside and as there’s a class in the village show for red potatoes, I thought I’d give them a try. I did plant some pink fir apple a couple of years ago, but they didn’t do that well under glass, I suppose we’ll see if the new environment makes a difference. A bit of dry weather might help!

A True Sign Of Approaching Bounty
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

The vine, the first thing I check for signs of life every time I visit the greenhouse, has (much to my annual relief) sprung into life. It looks healthy too, I mentioned last year that I’d taken a several cuttings as a (hopeful) hedge against the possible disaster of this one dying on me (we lost its sister some years ago). One of them is establishing itself on the opposite side of the greenhouse and my eldest daughter’s going to try and train another along the fence of her new house. If it takes there’ll be a direct link back to Norman, every time she looks out of her back door. I’m a sucker for nostalgia.

The Daily Grind, Innit?
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

The outside growing area, (fast becoming known as simply “the allotment”) continues to take shape. Here, a model take the place of the camera-shy chap who does all the technical jobs, as the rails for the chicken wire fence are bolted into place. Note too the wooden posts where the gate will hang. Conveniently for everyone involved, it’s directly in line with the path. All the metal (apart from the new roll of wire) being used is “up-cycled” from the same scrap heap where we keep finding the discarded tools. There’s an old sprung bedstead in there too, I’m pretty sure that one day, in the not too distant future, it’ll come in handy.

A Necessary Precaution
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

The allotment has four sides, as I type this missive, one and a half of them are now protected by a four foot chicken wire fence and a sturdy wooden gate (made from a hurdle). Next week, weather dependent, will see the completion of the fenced in section before the frame and door, which were originally where the gate now is, will be positioned three bays in (pictures next time, rather than try to explain it), to form, all being well, a rabbit free environment in which plants can hopefully thrive. I have in mind to make a scarecrow, or maybe two, to deter those pests with wings from seeing our hard work as simply an open invitation, although the taking of slugs will not be frowned upon.

How Many Beans Make Eleven?
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

As bad as the weather’s been, I couldn’t really hold back the broad beans any longer and took the gamble to put them outside. A chap of my acquaintance (no names no pack drill) “yawked” together this mesh cloche, which I’ll leave in situ for two or three weeks, or until such time as the plants require some support, whichever comes sooner. I’ve planted a new “heritage” organic variety this year and the plants seem to be very sturdy, so I’m expecting good things. As is often the case, the successful germination and maturing of these plants hasn’t, so far, been matched by the peas (another “heritage” variety). Out of thirty only two, so far have germinated. I’ve set a new batch in one of the heated trays, maybe that’ll encourage them. Broad bean and pea risotto is relying on them to do so.

Chilli Jam, Early Stages
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

The cold damp weather has held lots of germination back, but after a quick five days in the heated trays I’ve got some results with the chili and pepper plants. I did have to buy some new seed this year, hopefully that should give me high yielding robust plants and lots of chili jam, peppers for the freezer too. I do have others on the go, so, with luck, I’m hoping to plant out between twenty and thirty of five different varieties. A riot of colour and hopefully a riot of flavour.

As I sit here, another awful story of murder and malicious wounding, this time in a Sydney shopping centre, is unfolding. It’s a sad truth that such incidents are all too common and it’s another sad truth, one which demeans the victims of these terrible attacks, that the “explanations” for such behaviour, explanations we’ve heard far too many times, are trotted out almost before the blood of the innocent victims has dried on their clothing. And so it begins, briefed authority figures (politicians, high ranking police) and media talking heads tell the same story, which we could all parrot by rote. The words and stock phrases don’t change, whether it’s the UK, mainland Europe or the antipodes. In this particular case (although it is still early in the piece) a man acting alone (lone wolf?) and known to the authorities goes on a bloody rampage, indiscriminately knifing, killing and maiming men, women and children. He’s thankfully shot (martyred?) by a policewoman, but not before his deadly work is done. We don’t yet know his name, which God (if any) he prays too, or where he hails from, but we do know his actions are “unlikely to be terror related”. It can only be a matter of hours before we’re informed (by the same politicians, police officers and media) about a “mentally ill loner”, whose motive we’ll now never know and whose relatives, religious confidantes and associates simply don’t understand what drove him to attack defenceless and unwary people, in this particular shopping centre, in this particular part of Sydney. Whatever the truth of the matter, it’s telling that the story doesn’t change and nor is it likely too. It’s also telling that several low grade media “personalities” in the UK are more than willing to show their disdain for the victims of this terrible act of wanton violence, by supporting the narrative.

Two days on and a truth begins to emerge; let me be clear, several commentators (some of them Muslims) have gleefully taken to social media proclaiming “You wanted the killer to be Muslim, you’re all racists, Islamophobes, etc. etc. etc.”, but they’re wrong. Nobody “wants” the perpetrators of these vile and ultimately pointless crimes to be Muslims, it’s (sadly) based on previous experience and probability the most likely scenario. I think, instead of jumping to the defence of their own belief system, said commentators should acknowledge this, direct their ire inwardly and save their comments to express empathy for the victims and their families. In the UK, between 2010 and 2022, 46 people died and over 300 were injured in Islamist terror attacks, many of them at the hands of knife wielding Jihadi’s. During the same period 2 killings and a small number of injuries were attributed to terrorist attacks by the so called “far right”. We now wait to hear the motives of a second knife attack in Sydney, this time in a church. I suppose there’s every chance of it being perpetrated by a “mentally ill lone wolf”.

© Colin Cross 2024