Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Head in the Sand

Pushy,  pretending she's a statue


Pushy, Senior Cat and Custodian of the Vegetable Garden, took me to look at the peas the other day.

We agreed that, all things considered, it wasn't a pretty sight.

These aren't any ordinary peas. These are peas that germinated in a silver spoon.
They were organically raised in a tunnel by green fingers, and tended with nothing but love and devotion.
I bought them at the market at the beginning of May and then had them in the courtyard for weeks, in order to break it gently that life in my garden was not going to consist of cotton-wool and polythene-warmed air.
I told them that, instead, if they climbed high enough they might even get to see the sea!
They didn't seem too fazed by the courtyard, but when I planted them out, they had a hissy fit and said things like: 'We want to go home!' and 'Who wants to see the sea anyway?'

Pushy had grave concerns about the peas

I don't really blame them, in all honesty.
I did a Soil Temperature Test last week. (I stuck my finger in the ground.)
It was pretty parky for mid-June, despite the weeks of unprecedented sunshine, despite it having been warm enough to eat more lunches and suppers in the courtyard in the last month than we have done in years.

No 2 son, who is a very good gardener, and who helped me create the vegetable garden in 2003, had cold comfort (haha!) to offer when I confided in  him on Sunday.
'Well,' he said. 'If 30+% of the Gulf Stream has already disappeared, you'd better start getting used to it. You're heading for another mini ice-age.' He then launched into various depressing explanations of exactly what is happening, or rather not happening in the Atlantic, and around Greenland and Iceland and various far flung and - I have to say - cold-sounding places.

It wasn't exactly news to me. Of course I know these things.
It's not as if I have my head in the sand or anything!
But this is my garden! A bit close to home, if you don't mind.
And surely in my garden, it's all just a blip. Next year, we will suddenly - amazingly - wonderfully - return to the summers of memory.
The summers that lasted forever, full of the sound of bees, summers when peas and beans rampaged up the wires and then went into industrial fast-food production mode, until you were so sick of long, green pod-shaped things that you stuffed a bagful into everyone's arms as they came to the door.
Those were the days.

Later, sitting in the garden, enjoying a glass of wine in the evening sunshine, the In-Charge looked at the pathetic array of pea pods on offer so far.
'Oh good,' he said happily. 'Peas!'

Oh good!

I thought it kinder not to disabuse him. The In-Charge does much, extremely valuable work in the garden, but he isn't on the Vegetable Garden Executive Management Team, neither was he present on the official Stock Control Round that had counted 17 pods plus a thespian one that couldn't decide whether 'to pea or not to pea'.
I don't think he has done a Soil Temperature Test either.

To pea or not to pea

'Nothing like fresh peas,' he warmed to his theme. 'We can have pea soup and all sorts.'
I was momentarily diverted from the Pea Crisis.
Novel croutons! I wouldn't have thought peas would go with All Sorts, but then I am not as fond of licorice as the In-Charge. Perhaps licorice is the new honey. Maybe we will create a mind-blowing culinary combo. They will call us the couple who invented the perfect pea partnership. It will turn out to be like that Wensleydale cheese with apricots, which I always thought was revolting until - by complete chance - I tasted it with celery and realised that the groove in celery sticks is there solely to accommodate Wensleydale with apricots.

'The beans aren't doing very well,' he commented, cutting my thoughts mid-flow.

Pushy showed me the beans as well

So I've just been out and planted a load more bean seeds. Peas too.
17 pods ain't going to make much soup.
But this new lot are bound to grow.

Wishful thinking? Maybe my head is stuck in the sand.
But life surely wouldn't be worth living if there wasn't hope.

The Custodian of the Vegetable Garden on duty


  1. I recon it's a bad year for peas all 'round, but an excelent year for lettice.

    1. Well that would be great - am a real salad fan, despite the slug that fell off my fork at lunchtime - and I HAD washed the lettuce!

  2. I can relate to every single pea in youur garden now, after our visit yesterday. Thanks you so much for bringing us around your lovely garden .... ice age knocking on the door already or still on the way ... its soothing ... sorry to admitt there is one pea less, as I ate one ... and at least 3 strawberries :)

    1. It was lovely to see you all Tina - thanks for coming, and so glad it was such a sunny day. As for the peas - didn't you realise they were individually named and each one has its own passport?!

  3. It is Mother Nature being her obnoxious self, teasing teasing teasing. We will have no fruit on our trees this year and we continue to be threatened with frost, here, at the end of June! Will the insults never cease?! As to peas and beans and other garden produce - I gave up on all of that a few years ago. I simply grew weary of the drama of frosts and planting again and weeping over wilted peas.

    1. I can see why you gave up, Carol. There are some years, when if you add up the time and frustration, the cost of seeds and more seeds, not to mention slug pellets, let alone the disappointment factor, it would have been far cheaper and less exhausting to go to the vegetable shop!

  4. A pea shortage? No! Some of my happiest childhood memories involve eating fresh peas uncooked. Sitting between the rows, eating as many as we wanted and moving on to graze on strawberries. We ate the purple sprouting as well, but that was secretly, hidden behind the runner beans..
    Maybe they are teasing! Ready to put on a growth spurt when ou aren"t looking.

    1. Quite! It is pretty rare for them to make it as far as a pot in this house too - they are so delicious they are mostly eaten raw.
      I hope they are teasing. They weren't last year, they just didn't grow. It never got warm enough, and we had no runner beans either, which in my book categorises the summer as a disaster.
      Thans for your other (less intelligible!) messages too!
      Yes, Pushy is indeed a fine feline. I will pass your compliment on to her.

  5. I was cut that point, nt even allowed to turn ou to you.

  6. And again when I tried to turn nt into not. So before I am silently tonged off again

  7. Or tonged into gonged

  8. Pushy is a fine looking cat. A tortoiseshell tabby? Phew. Made it.

  9. Thanks. It felt like a marathon. My father was the biggest runner bean fan of all time. Grew one row to eat, and we had Himalayas of them on our plates, one row to freeze. He got very cross with me eating them raw.

  10. Sorry about that. No idea why it's such a problem leaving a comment.
    We never seemed to get the hang of how to freeze them properly, and the frozen ones were always disgusting when dished up in the winter. I never even try! But they are one of the few vegetables I could just eat (cooked) on their own, and it is marvellous to feast on them at the end of the summer, and then forget about them for another year.


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