Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Little Creatures

Some months ago, if you were paying attention, you may remember me waxing lyrical about the joys of growing our own veg. That was of course before we had a heatwave, a hosepipe ban and I got tied up with end of term itis.

As a result Spouse has nobly been watering our produce for months now, by dint of connecting four waterbutts in a line he has managed in the main to keep on top of things but it has been hard going at times. There has been many an evening when he has emerged from the bottom of the garden, black with grime and dust, muttering imprecations against Thames Water, snails, slugs and yours truly for being the inspiration behind the garden, but never doing any of the work. The latter part is true, but the trouble is when I get involved in the garden, everything else goes to pot.

Witness the other week, when I decided that as it was so hot and we can't have the paddling pool out, I would water the garden by dint of getting the kids to have a water fight in the vegetable patch. So I got them all lined up in their swimming cossies and they spent a happy hour chucking buckets of water at each other. Not much got watered, but at least they were cool. I then spent another hour or so watering everything properly, before I realised everyone was now so filthy that they had to go in the bath, and the louse problem is still so huge I then had to nit check heads. I also picked three lettuces which were about to seed, and lots of fruit. So by the time Spouse arrived home, I was still in the middle of tea, the sink was full of lettuce and all hell was breaking loose.

Not least, because now the fruits of his labours are coming good, I am discovering the downside to growing your own, is that you inevitably bring some friends in from the garden with you. I am not generally squeamish about little creatures, but there's something about soaking the raspberries and watching the insects swimming for their lives, not waving but drowning, that fills me with horror. I was equally aghast, when I turned round to wash the lettuce and nearly jumped out of my skin to see a snail sitting on the tap looking at me. I found a caterpillar making a break for it across the cooker the other day, having had a narrow escape from Death by Drowning in Boiling Broccoli.

Not only that, but thanks to the headlice problem, I have to do a daily check of the little creatures living in my children's heads. There too, I am not too wussy till a get a big one...

On the other hand, the upside of all this gardening malarkey means we have been dining of our own lettuce for weeks, we have managed to grow heaps of broccoli which I am blanching and freezing as quick as we can pick it, so we should have a steady supply in the winter, and for the first time ever we seem to have produced some reasonable carrots. Our potatoes are nearly ready for digging, our beetroot is about to be pickled, and the tomatoes are bursting forth with ripeness. We have made blackcurrant and plum jam, and I have loads of raspberries and loganberries frozen for use in the winter. When I was younger I would have sneered at such industry, but I have to confess, while I doubt I'll ever be a full blown member of the WI, I do find something immensely satisfying about cooking with food we've grown ourselves, especially as it tastes so good.

All I need now is a few chickens and a pig....

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