Monday 24 July 2006

In the Garden

I’ve had friends Robin and Maggie Tredwell to stay for a few days. They are artists, bohemian, old friends and beachcombers and I’m going to have to shake Robin down before he leaves to retrieve any number of little objets trouvé and scrap metal from around the farmyard that ‘would make a great bit of sculpture for the next show’.

Having people here is an excuse to sit around in the sunshine and make dire predictions about the progression of the weather from tropical heat to tropical storm. Gratifyingly we had a humdinger of a storm with a continuous light and sound show and hail the size of ice cubes rattling on the corrugated iron roofs.

Part of the tourist trail is a trip to St. Lô Market, held every Saturday morning and comprising of all the usual market stalls packed with stuff from sweatshops worldwide, a fish, meat and dairy section and a surprising number of little old people each with a couple of rabbits or a handful of beans to sell for their supper. From a stall loaded down with bare rooted celeriac, laitues feuilles de chêne and cabbages we took a bunch of a 100 leeks for 5 euros to plant in the garden for next winter. The variety was Carentan, named for the nearby town where sand grown leeks and carrots are a major industry. The stallholder had another variety but I didn’t recognise it so went for familiarity, just like every other customer. The baby leeks are planted a little closely but should make fantastic soup to warm ourselves with in the cold.

sarpo mira

While planting the beans I noticed that one of the two potato plants had become diseased. The leaves were small and misshapen, and there was some die back. I suspected a virus but when I dug the plant found the stem was blackened and some of the new potatoes rotten. Blackleg, probably brought in on the tuber, bought from a retail outlet in Newport Pagnell. I would urge anyone contemplating growing potatoes to buy from a specialist source and to buy the highest quality of seed available. The so called disease free potatoes available from garden centres and DIY stores are at the bottom of a scale of seed potato grading and little better than a handful of eating spuds bought from a supermarket.

And for the one that got away – I was so busy attempting to capture the Painted Lady below that I waited too long before trying for a picture of a magnificent Silver Washed Fritillary browsing on the bramble flowers…


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