A View From (Inside) The Greenhouse….That Was The Election That Was….

Cavalcade Of Capsicum
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

There were times, six weeks or so ago, in the aftermath of the “flood” when I was tempted to germinate some more seed and try to start the pepper and chili plantation from scratch, even though I knew, really, it would most likely be too late to have any success. I’m glad I persevered. I’ve been employing a regime of starving them of water for two or three days and giving them a weekly feed of well diluted nettle fertiliser. Although the top leaves on all the plants are still show signs of stress and the Habaneros are dragging their heels and may not fruit, everything else looks as if it will make it and most of the plants are now beginning to flower. Lots of chili jam and spicy pickles this year, fingers crossed.

Nettle Alchemy
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

I’ve mentioned before about using nettle as an organic supplement and feed, I’m applying it weekly (sparingly in most cases) to everything in the greenhouse now. Unusually for me, I’ve done some research which has revealed that nettle, being strong in nitrogen, promotes healthy leaf growth rather than crop improvement. The first stage of creating what I hope is the right balance, is to steep nettles (fresh and tea makings) in a couple of halves of 40 gallon tubs until they’re nicely broken down and giving off an unmistakable pungent aroma. I then decant this water (after letting it settle) into a 25 gallon water but and dilute it by around 50%. So far it seems to be doing the job. I do have a tomato feed which I apply to the tomatoes weekly. I’ll also use it on the peppers once they show signs of fruiting.

Two Of The Colours Of The Rainbow (Chard)
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

I planted some chard outside, just as a bit of a space filler, really, although it does do well as a substitute for spinach and the younger leaves, although not to every ones taste, can be used on salads. Any road up, it didn’t really take, so I put a dozen seeds directly into a little patch in the greenhouse. They all germinated within a week or so and look to be doing well, although it’s something else to look after. I’ve just got to find a use for it, anyone got a recipe for chard soup?

One Giant Strawberry Does Not A Summer Make
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

The strawberries are being a bit “Curates Egg” so far, although there are signs of improvement. Initially I was very excited by the response to the new planting regime, even though they are a bugger to water, but (this may have something to do with the lack of sunshine) the cropping is intermittent, with quite a few smaller, misshapen berries and the odd (very tasty) giant. I’m guessing I maybe need to consult The Smallholders Almanac” to find out where I could be going wrong. On the plus side, there are a great many healthy looking “runners” which I’ll gather and use as the new plants for next year, hopefully, that might do the trick, these current plants are mostly two or three years old.

Tomato Yawk Up
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

I’ve yet to produce a ripe tomato, although signs are increasingly encouraging, there’s fruit aplenty on most of the plants, some of it so heavy as to be requiring of extra support. I did consider several options, including a ‘Y’ shaped crutch affair, but the chap from buildings and maintenance came to my rescue by suggesting I tie a length of “Michael” around the leaf above the truss and let the plant support itself. Genius idea and neither the crease in the truss stem, nor the string, seem (as yet) to be having any detrimental effect. The sun’s out today, too (Saturday 6th), so we may actually end up with a red tomato or two in the next few days. Better late than never!

(Not) As Broad As They’re Long
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

This new variety of broad beans seems to have been a decent choice. Being outside, they’ve taken a battering, but this first harvesting (maybe a week or two early) produced some very tasty (if small) beans, which didn’t need the outer skin removing. I’ve enough left to either go again this year or save for next season, although I could always dry a few and (hopefully) save myself a few bob in the process. Pea, mint and broad bean risotto tonight, although my peas, although germinated now, are still to flower. It’s been that kind of year.

A Spud’s A Spud, For All That
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

A quick couple of lines about the potatoes. The harvest continues to be a tad meagre, although the Vivaldi are producing more tubers than the Charlotte did. The flavour is something else though and the ground’s dried out a little, making them a little easier to get at. The five tined fork is perfect for the job, although the “hands in the soil” method does come in handy for rooting out strays. The fork may have originally been used on the farm for turning manure, it was rescued from the scrap pile by Grounds and Maintenance and fitted with a new shaft, turning it into a top tool, perfectly suited to its current job. Two more rows of new potatoes to go at and then we’ll be into main crop, although I’ve put a mixed stitch in which should be ready for the village show.

Hedge Forage
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

Can you really forage from your own hedge? I’m sure that’s a question that’s been foremost in many peoples minds in recent weeks, and I’ve decided that yes, you can. I “found” the bush that provided these berries (about half the total haul) on the verge of the road (now a footpath) that leads to where the railway station once stood. At the time I had no idea the land was privately owned, so the appropriation of said bush seemed reasonable enough to me, even if Mrs C though I’d been a bit cheeky. I wasn’t even sure it’d survive, but growth has been steady and the fruits, although not as sweet as the wild pink ones, make an excellent compote, with sugar, vanilla and ginger which I have with my porridge. Waste not, want not, as many a Yorkshireman is wont to say.

Labour Reveals It’s Radical Plan For Renationalising The Water Companies
© Colin Cross, Going Postal 2024

There’s no avoiding the realities of the outcome of the General Election, nor should there be any recriminations for those of us who chose (metaphorically) to put their heads above the parapet by voting for The Reform Party, to the detriment of the fake Tories, who asked for and duly received the shoeing they deserved. Turnout was low, partly, I’m guessing, because a decent number of those Conservative supporters who felt the Tories had badly let them down (in a number of key areas), but couldn’t bring themselves to vote for the “racists” in Reform stayed home. The upshot, as if we hadn’t already seen it coming, is a large majority for Labour and a rise in the vote share for the “Progressive” parties. The LibDems (discounting Labour) have been the main beneficiaries of the woeful Tory performance. Ed Davey, doing what he does best by playing the fool must feel vindicated, but it doesn’t bode well for the country as a whole or the “right” in particular. Looking at the percentages is interesting to me, Labour’s vote share is up just over 1% on 2019, when it won 202 seats. Broadly speaking, “Progressive” parties won roughly 60% of the popular vote, with “right wing” parties winning roughly 40%, but again this doesn’t reveal the full picture. I’d speculate that had Reform not been required to exist (ie, if the Tory Party had sorted out the borders, rolled back on Net Zero and fully left the EU and all its institutions), then the “right wing” vote wouldn’t have been split and we’d be (at worst) in hung parliament territory. Between them, Tories and Reform polled 38%.

Is it all part of some dastardly plan to usher in “One World Government” and install Tony Blair (once Klaus has shuffled off his mortal coil) as President Of  The Earth? Some people think so and the grubby fingerprints of Mandleson (an EU fanatic) are all over this like a particularly nasty rash, with several Blair (a megalomaniac in waiting) allies already ensconced in senior positions, with, no doubt, more to come. It’s easy to speculate, yesterdays conspiracy theory is tomorrows reality, but being the simple fellow that I am, I take a slightly different view (although it may well be both related and relevant). The Tory Party in the main (including the Johnson clown) was never fully behind Leaving the EU, but nobody really had the guts to say so, so it farted about without really getting anything of any import done, apart from Teresa May being allowed to make things decidedly worse. Since June 2016 and notwithstanding the “Pandemic”, political turmoil has been a constant, leading us to where we now are. Already Starmer and our new Foreign Secretary, David Lammy (no laughing at the back) are making noises about “closer relations” and “partnerships”. I’m guessing there isn’t one committed “Leaver” amongst the 483 Labour & LibDem (14% of the popular vote for 71 seats) MP’s and it’s unlikely, including Reform (14% of the popular vote for 4 seats) that there are more than a handful in the HoC and very few in The Lords. Some of you may recall that I said, when Cameron resigned (I feel because he knew he could never bring himself to fulfill his promises) that we’d never fully Leave. Have we seen a once great political party self-engineer its own virtual destruction (on orders from higher powers) simply to facilitate a return (in all but name) to the corrupt, sclerotic, authoritarian, expansionist, anti-democratic, anti-citizen EU? As my old mum used to say “stranger things have happened at sea”.

© Colin Cross 2024