Just as I am starting to reap my bountiful harvest I have to question myself.
Whacking in seeds right left and centre and finding a bit of spare ground, here and there, to slip in just one more row of Brussels plants might, in retrospect, have been a bit over the top.
Richard is almost being force-fed mange tout peas and broad beans on a daily basis. He questions, now and then, albeit very quietly, if mange tout peas go with oven chips and baked beans? You can see I’m a jolly good producer of balanced meals?
It may have been the broad beans with the omelette that caused him to politely ask, ‘Are there many more of these left?’ Well, yes my little sweetie there are. Hundreds. Millions in fact. The mother plants are standing so close together, laden with swelling pods, that if you venture down the rows you may well disappear and never be seen again. Yes, it has most certainly has been a good year for the bean.
Billions of fat gooseberries hang, ready to be picked. They are jolly nice just to pluck from the bush and eat in passing. Although, once I start plucking and munching I fail to pass or to stop at the sensible stopping point and spend half the night in the loo, holding my lower gut and moaning to anyone who will listen that I’ll never eat another half-ripe gooseberry ever again. I’m not good with gut pain. All severe bellyache brings back the memory of the pain of giving birth and that is not something I wish to revisit. Dear God they really do need to invent an easier, less painful way of giving birth. Anyway …moving on…
The blackcurrants will need picking by the end of the week and that means resurrecting the jam making equipment, washing out jars, purchasing endless bags of sugar and suffering third degree burns to my lower arms. This year I am jam making at a weekend. This is so that Richard can help. He eats half a jar at a time so he can witness, and be part of, the hard work that goes into it.
I’ve actually started looking forward to things dying off. The first to fit this category was a tub of early mange tout that I’d started off in the greenhouse way back at the beginning of the year in my attempt to have a longer fruiting period. Had I known that Richard wasn’t that keen to have them with pizza and oven chips I probably wouldn’t have bothered.
So, dead keen to remove the spent peas to the compost heap, and the potting compost back to the garden, I grabbed the peas and attempted to yank them from the tub. They wouldn’t budge. Obviously they wanted to hang around for a bit longer just to pee me off. Not to be deterred I carried the whole tub over to the compost heap by the plant tops. Once there I gave it all a good shake and covered myself in compost. Still they held firm. I cut a bit of string and pulled out a few pea sticks and tried again, this time lifting the whole tub, with peas intact, up to waist level and shook it.
Something leapt at me. As it passed my head I recognised four legs and an open-mouthed look of horror on the frogs face as it missed my mouth by coat of paint.
Had I been cussing at the time my mouth would have been ajar and I would really have had a frog in my throat. As the creature from hell landed in the rhubarb I screamed, ‘Godddddddddd, for fucks sake.’
In retrospect I wish I hadn’t, as it alerted the neighbour – the one who lives under the conifer hedge waiting to ‘catch me’ for a chat. I then had to stand there nodding and smiling and contributing to the conversation with a smile on my face. Not only that, when I got back to the house the said face was covered in black compost, and with the odd greenfly thrown in for good measure. Don’t you just hate that? When you have a bug on your nose and the other person fails to mention it? You realise, in retrospect, that it wasn’t your riveting conversation that was keeping the other person glued to your features, but the insect that was halfway up your snout!
I love my garden. It is my escape. My little Shangri-La. I just wish the sodding frogs didn’t love it as well. And I could also do without half of the slugs and snails in Leicestershire congregating and planing their killing manoeuvres on all things green.
Oh well, off to dead-head the roses and pick a few hundred mange tout and broad bean pods. Might be kind and cook them with a piece of salmon tonight and give the old love a change.