Tag Archives: fruit

Strange Tales from the Garden

My idea of irony

After a day spent hammering away at the keyboard yesterday – ebay parcels and banknotes to be written up for sale – I decided to devote most of my evening to my beloved, as she has had another harrowing day at work. After much moaning and eating fish and chips we both fell asleep around 10.30 in front of the TV and didn’t wake up until midnight. And That is why there is another untidy gap in my history of blog posts.

Julia has been under considerable stress at work over recent months because, as with all successful garden projects, everybody wants a piece of it. It’s a lovely, relaxing place to spend a day according to her manager, who spent a lazy, sunny day there in late summer, eating fruit and chilling out.

It’s not quite so lovely in November, with no heat or light or running water and a group that needs supervising, chemical toilets that need scrubbing and all the routine tasks to attend to (so that people can come down in summer and steal all your crops).

In the Polytunnel – now converted for general use with Social Distancing

People always want to ‘work’ on garden projects when they are running well, but they never want to do the actual work, and they often disrupt things due to ignorance and stupidity. Here are three examples of what she is up against. I will offer them here as slightly humorous stories, rather than serious complaints, as the full list of problems is long and boring and makes me think murderous thoughts. These are just three edited highlights.

One, Julia went down one day after her regular Wednesday day off to find a large hole in the garden. The Wednesday staff had decided the garden needed a new pond as the three it already has are clearly not enough. Julia shrugged it off as she is becoming immune to the random stupidity. When she went to the compost bins she found that the bin she had just spent two days emptying (ready to move compost) had been filled with rubble by the pond diggers. It took two days to clear it. (They have, by the way, dug the hole the wrong size for the liner and the garden is let with a hole and a discarded liner, because they have now lost interest.)

Apples – the garden is always popular at harvest time

Two, she went to the main base on the edge of town and found a display of succulents on show. Apparently they were too good to leave in the polytunnel and everyone should be able to enjoy them. One of the visiting staff had decided this and without discussion, had removed them. When Julia complained and pointed out that they were part of an ongoing project she was told they were Mencap property and they would do what they liked. However, they aren’t Mencap property, they are our property. We sourced them and loaned them to the garden because, until recently, there was never any money for the garden. They are part of a project where the group propagates them and sells the extras at Open Days to raise money for the garden.

She was then told that she should not take her own things to the garden and that she should remove them. So, no succulent project, no enrichment experience for the clients, no fund-raising and only about half the succulents we used to have as quite a lot have disappeared. Most managers would have apologised and thanked Julia for the resources she provides.

Finally, she inspected the wormery yesterday. She found that somebody has filled it with sand. We are mystified why anybody would do this, as worms don’t live in sand and don’t eat sand.

Why, why, why, why, why?

Moles like the garden too

There is a meeting on Monday to discuss the garden. I don’t think it will help. I think homicide would help, as some of the staff will clearly be more use as soil improver than they are as human beings.

 

The Fruit Exchange

We gave one of the neighbours a bowl of plums the other day. I thought Julia was being a bit generous with the size of the bowl, as I like plums, but let’s face it, they go bad easily so it’s better to give them away than see them rot.

Today we had a knock on the door and were given a bowl of figs and two sizeable squash.  Fair exchange, as they say, is no robbery.

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Figs – Brown Turkey

They look a bit green, but they are beautifully ripe – I’ve already had one to check. Some of the plums are perfect and some still a little sharp, but it’s better, I feel to pick at this point. One year we left them a bit late and a lot went brown and mouldy overnight. Some years, because of poor management, the tree fails to produce, but although it’s disappointing it’s not as bad as wasting the crop.

Our cherry tree, as I may have remarked before, was picked clean by birds most years so I simply took it out, which gave more room for the plum and the rhubarb.

Julia tells me that the container grown damson tree is almost ready to pick, though the harvest will only be eight fruits.

The final photograph is plums in a steel bowl. It’s difficult photographing fruit. They may sit still, but there’s not much of interest about them so when  I got the chance to use the reflections I gave it a go.

Reflected Plums - Victoria

Reflected Plums – Victoria

The problem was that as I took pictures I ate plums and by the end of the shoot there were significantly fewer plums in the photographs.

I’ve been thinking about my retirement and if I really need a garden or should buy a flat instead. A flat would mean no garden and less work, but a bungalow would mean space to sit outside and would make me take exercise, which I really should have. And I could plant fruit trees.

There are various proverbs and quotes on this subject, but it is now time for me to plant trees even though I may not live to sit in their shade.

Thoughts on Diet and Multi-Tasking

I’ve gone back to using the netbook. It may be slow but I can use it while I sit in front of the TV and talk to Julia. I think I finally have the hang of this multi-tasking thing.

It won’t be a regular return, as it’s already irritating me by lagging and locking up.

Apart from the time element, this also makes me feel less like writing and less like posting photos.

However, it does leave more time for tea and Julia.

This, in turn, means Julia is able to discuss my character faults in greater detail.

The actual benefits of multi-tasking are, I feel, debatable.

Today I have consumed oranges, an apple, blueberries, raspberries, tomato, onion and courgettes. I am therefore healthy, virtuous and in no danger of constipation. I did fit in a bowl of cereal, a small pork pie, a cheese cob and a pork chop too, so there’s still some work to do on my diet. And a doughnut and a piece of fudge. That’s the trouble with being virtuous, there’s always a bit of sugar lurking about, ready to throw itself down your throat.

Nothing exciting happened today. We had a few strange questions via eBay this morning, which took half an hour to answer tactfully.

I’m not sure if it’s actually confirmed by legislation but it does seem to be a widely accepted there is a basic human right to be a gibbering idiot, so you have to be polite.

It’s strange how eBay has become the international gathering place for such people. You’d think that people who were that stupid wouldn’t be able to operate a computer.

 

 

 

 

Another New Week

Well, it’s another new week and it’s a blank canvas full of possibilities and the potential for cliches.

I rose early, did a word puzzle and then sat and decided what to do. I decided to do more sitting, and did another word puzzle. These aren’t intellectual exercises by any means but at 6.30 my brain isn’t necessarily prepared for heavy lifting.

Breakfast consisted of a pear, a small citrus fruit (I lose track of all the names they use these days) and two turmeric capsules. As a dietary regime it could probably do with some fine-tuning.

My first TV selection was what I refer to as “classic comedy”. That could equally be “very old repeat” as it was a 1982 episode of Minder – the Birdman of Wormwood Scrubs. That’s the episode where they refer to a male Bullfinch, but show a female Chaffinch. After that I lost interest in the assorted rubbish on offer and concentrated on the computer.

Looking through the Q&A section of ebay to increase my knowledge of the system I was struck by the fact that though many of the world’s resources are decreasing the supply of idiots shows little sign of slacking off.  If we could harness stupidity and get it into a fuel tank we wouldn’t need electric cars. I won’t dwell on the subject, as we don’t have the technology for this, and the waste upsets me.

Now, as the clock creeps round to mid-day I realise that a touch of TV, two word puzzles, some light blogging, a quick breakfast, and a bit of ebay, has absorbed five hours of my life.

No wonder I don’t get the washing up done.

 

Hope and Plums

In all the wedding cake, hope is the sweetest of the plums.

Douglas Jerrold

Despite the temperature and wind, a lone Peacock toughed it out in the garden this morning. I’m sure there would have been more if we’d had more time, but we could only manage a flying visit. Julia was taking a group for someone else at the main building and we had to be there for nine.

While Julia had a word with the school caretaker I took the chance to take some photos. These include the fruit and some of the beds. I took the fruit because it’s a nice thing to photograph (and some of it is just starting to ripen). The beds are quite good too, with some of the grasses now starting to show well.

I’m taking them as reference shots to help Julia with her garden planning. Now the mint has been cleared by one of the volunteers (too soon in my opinion) they are looking a bit bare, and devoid of pollinators. Apart from that I’m doing nothing – Julia can work out what happens next.

It’s going to be very interesting as the seasons come round, as we need to see what bulbs are planted.

In truth nothing much needs doing as it’s a well established garden with plenty of provision for wildlife, but there’s always something needing to be done. They look white and green from the photos but there is lavender in there and a few remaining orange lilies with scattered evening primrose.

Soon we will be picking fruit and collecting manure for the rhubarb beds. The rhubarb has been a bit week this year, a sure sign it needs feeding as it’s always known as a “hungry crop” by ancient gardeners leaning on spades.

When we fed the rhubarb on the farm we ended up with a rhubarb jungle, so watch this space for further news.

 

The Day gets Better

I’ve just been adding photographs to the post about the attempted break in. As you can see from them, we had a CSI van and beautiful blue skies. I don’t usually go to the garden when people are there but I thought Julia could do with a hand this afternoon. She normally has to travel through town on the bus with two bags of kit as she travels from one job to the next but I thought after the trials of the day she deserved a lift.

I am such a gent. I am also currently unemployed so it seemed the least I could do.

While I was there in the morning I forgot to tell you that Julia had spotted a beautifully marked Green-veined White. I could only get a distant photo with my phone, so I have nothing to show. It’s a common butterfly, but it’s a new one for the garden list and that’s always good.

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Willow arch

Yesterday we had a good few hours, with Bill from Men in Sheds bringing his battery powered saw to help cut up pallets. We now have all the bits cut to make three new benches.

He also  brought four nest boxes in kit form so the group can put them together and paint them. Even better, he’s going to do another 20 for us. This will let us upgrade the existing boxes and leave some to sell towards funds.

Despite the break in it’s been a good week, and the fruit is looking good. All we need to do is stop people stealing it.

 

I would have taken more photos, but the batteries ran out. (These were all taken on Wednesday morning, though the post is written on Thursday.)

We were also given a perfectly usable set of 5-a-side goals the school was throwing out, or fruit cage frame, as we now call it.

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The new fruit cage

 

 

 

Working in the garden

Julia needed a willing workhorse this morning. When she couldn’t find one she had to do with a mithering fatman.

The task was sawing pallets up to make garden benches. Julia has a video on how to make a bench from a single pallet. Unfortunately our pallets aren’t the same size as the ones in the video (8 slats instead of 9) so there’s an element of mix and match involved.

There are some excellent benches on show, but we’re aiming for functionality rather than upholstery.

I will take some photographs when we get one together. With no electricity and a blunt hand saw, this might take some time. The fact I’m not allowed to be an official volunteer isn’t actually helping either. It also doesn’t help when you have to evict a family of magpies before starting. We aren’t sure why they like it in the polytunnel but the first job of the day is always to chase four protesting magpies out. Over the years we had a few birds in the polytunnels on the farm, but never anything like this.

Fruit and flowers were looking good, and the rain stopped for a while.