Tag Archives: weeds

Notes for Posterity

Yesterday was probably rock bottom. I simply sat round doing very little and, just after midnight, I realised that I’d failed to post. In fact, I’d failed to do anything much.

I say it’s probably rock bottom, but I can’t guarantee this – there is always the chance it could be worse. At least I was still wearing trousers. I have a couple of pairs of jogging bottoms upstairs, so there is still potential to sink further.

Today I am wearing trousers and have already accomplished more than I had done by this time yesterday.

We did pop out yesterday afternoon, going to TESCO for our Click & Collect order. The system was slightly different from the one last week. We had to travel to Toton last week. They have a small building, two men and you load your own shopping. We went to Top Valley yesterday – they have a canopy with a van parked under it, one man and he puts it in the boot for you while you sit in the car.

Click & Collect Top Vally TESCO Nottingham

Click & Collect Top Valley TESCO Nottingham

It only took 20 minutes and we only had contact with one man. It’s not a bad method of shopping. However, it did have one drawback as there were several items lacking. They take your money, they confirm they have it, they clearly have it in stock, but they don’t have a system for turning this into reality.

There was no flour. There was no bread kit. There was no marmalade. I have no clue why there should be a shortage of marmalade. There was plenty last time I shopped, and plenty of variety when I shopped online. I think we are looking at a failure in substitution rather than a failure in supply.

I bought white rolls, to make bacon cobs, which arrived squashed, which was disappointing. Even worse, the Belgian buns arrived crushed. I’d bought them as a special, sticky treat and was much put out when they arrived with the icing spread all over the packaging.

It’s yet another downside of shopping by remote control.

Despite this I still checked for a delivery slot on the internet. It’s become a habit, possibly even a fixation. And, again, after several disappointments, I managed to find a delivery slot at ASDA. It’s for 5th May, which is only 5 days after my previous slot, but beggars can’t be choosers. I could, in theory, have left it for someone else, and waited to see if I could get one for the 7th. However, nobody seems to have bothered leaving one for me over the last month, and they have been buying all the flour, so I pressed the button.

It’s nice to think that the current difficulties will make us all better people but I’m not sure this is going to be the case with me. The fact that I avoided panic-buying and bought modestly for the first few weeks of the shortages did not leave me with a good feeling. I should have felt good about my self-restraint, or at least felt neutral about the whole thing. But I didn’t. I felt vulnerable, short of food, and that all the smug, well-stocked panic-buyers, were, as usual, nicely placed while the rest of us suffered. At that point, if someone had suggested a re-run of the French Revolution, I would happily have joined in.

I’m not sure, after several weeks of stocking up, we actually need any more food. The fridge is rammed, we have tins balanced on shelves and I’m struggling to use carrots quickly enough.

As I said to Julia, it’s like shopping for Christmas. Over the years I have managed to hold things back so I only buy twice the food we need for the two days, but the last few weeks have weakened my self-discipline and I have bought too much of some things. I have too many vegetables and too many tins of things like Spam, haggis and corned beef, but I don’t have enough bread or marmalade, and I ran out of English mustard last night. I forgot all about ordering more so unless I find some in the back of a cupboard I’ll have to eke out the last quarter jar of Dijon, which is OK, but doesn’t make your eyes water. Mustard isn’t as much fun without the danger.

The pictures below are basically just weeds in what passes as a front garden – a poppy that had already started to fall apart by 2pm, red valerian that is budding up, and a dandelion. When the best flowers in the garden are dandelions you realise quite how much you have let things slip.

 

Close, but no banana…

It started well with Three Fruit Marmalade and granary toast. We’ve just finished a jar of cheap marmalade (Number Two went shopping last month and, in true student style, bought the cheapest he could find).

I’m seriously thinking about my diet, and can’t shake the idea that a grimmer breakfast would probably be better for me – porridge or bran flakes for instance. (I’m expecting a Scottish backlash about the porridge, but it’s grey and with the traditional water and salt it’s hardly luxurious.) It’s always tempting to say that porridge is the world’s only grey food, but according to this link there are others.

We moved on to collecting cardboard from a market stall. Julia had arranged that on Saturday as she needed cardboard to supress weeds in the polytunnel. There’s an area at the back of the raised beds which isn’t easy to reach so she’s choking the weeds with a mulch of cardboard and wood chip.

As it was a nice day, and  we then set off for the coast. The curse of the mobile phone then struck, and to my dismay I heard Julia arranging a meeting for the evening at a time that we couldn’t possibly make if we went to the coast first.

I don’t think she really understands the concept of “day off”.

And that was how the day failed to live up to the promise of the Three Fruit Marmalade start.

The Sneinton market area has been a busy centre for the fruit and vegetable trade since the 1850s when the original market was built on the site of a clay pipe works. It was improved in 1938 andmore buildings added in 1957. That was when the Fyffes warehouse was built, complete with its sculptural bunch of bananas. Julia has been meaning to take a picture of the bananas for years, so here they are.

The wholesale market was relocated again in the 1990s, leaving a small remnant of a market and a numbr of small business units.

Progress report

The Comfrey feed is starting to show changes – the leaves are blackening around the edges and the water is starting to look cloudy. Early days yet.

The Art of Captaincy and its load of grey oyster mushroom spawn is now looking distinctly mouldy so it’s time for the fridge. The blewitt spawn isn’t showing any sign of growth.

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The oil in the calendula jar is looking a good colour, but I’m going to leave it a bit.

The chive vinegar is looking good and I’ll be decanting it into new bottles this afternoon.

I have the bottle ready for the courgette, but no suitable courgette.

The bean experiment (where half of the raised bed had the soil enriched with pig muck, wood chip and paper towels) isn’t showing much result. None of the beans look particularly good, though the fat hen in the enriched area (furthest away from the camera) is definitely looking better.

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Note vigorous weeds at far end!

According to this page fat hen (known as lamb’s quarters in America) is a good indicator of fertile soil.

We’re going to be eating garden weed salad on the Friday school visit so it’s good to know I have plenty.

 

 

The postman calls

Big news of the day is that the tea bushes arrived. For the moment “bushes” might be an expression of hope rather than fact (as you can see from the picture) but I have confidence. As usual I have the plants well in advance of knowing how to look after them. I vaguely remember they need ericaceous compost but can’t remember much else. I should have learned from the Great Gimger Debacle but I didn’t. One day my polytunnel will pulsate with exotic life.

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For the moment, in the exotic line, it has nine tea twigs and some sorry looking bits of ginger in it.

We had a birthday party today, launched a massive attack on the garden weeds and planted more seeds. Now that my French beans and multi-coloured carrots are coming up I feel more inspired to plant more. The rhubarb seds are coming up too, but the comfrey has still to appear. We also had three more bookings for school trips – 180 kids, some as young as five, spread over four days. Let’s just say that everyone has their own personal hell. Mine features five year olds. They squeak. They fill each others’ pockets with stones. They don’t listen. And you feel guilty when you threaten them.

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That’s all for now – I have to set up for tonight’s visit from the Young Farmers’ Club and then we’re going out for a meal with the kids to celebrate having time to go out for a meal when all four of us are available.

Ours is a life of simple pleasures.

 

Third time lucky

We had a group of Guides on the farm today – spent three hours outside foraging in the hedgerows and garden. Pickings were a bit scant in the hedges but we managed a decent salad from the garden. That is mainly due to my poor weeding so maybe not something I should be boasting about.

The chickweed is really living up to its alternative name of winterweed, though I see there are other plants using the name. Best call it Stellaria media to be on the safe side. It was a mainstay of the mediaeval winter diet when pickings were slim and you can see why when you see how well it grows.

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We are also  have a good crop of goosegrass (or sticky weed or cleavers or sweethearts depending on what you call it) though it isn’t great for salads. Too sticky! I’ve never known a plant with so many different names. I don’t know if anyone still calls it ‘sweethearts’ – it was what my mother and grandmother used to call it. They come from Lancashire but I’ve checked up and it also seems to be used in the south and south-west, though it does seem to have been popular as a name before the war.

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I call it goosegrass and always have done. What do you call it?

And before you ask – the title of the post refers to the fact we’ve fed three groups on garden weeds now and haven’t poisoned anyone yet. And ‘today’ means Tuesday because I’m getting behind.