Saturday 14 May 2011


the red eyed devil swallow of old Normandie

Possibly the best picture of a swallow I've ever taken, what I'd really like to capture is their swooping flights around the yard, chasing each other's tails and shrieking with swallow laughter while they do it. This monster is the one that likes to sit above us at breakfast, turning every meal into Russian roulette as we wait to see who is the lucky recipient of his gifts this time.

black locust

The black locust is flowering. It seems an unusual choice as a hedge plant here, particularly as it is alleged to be poisonous to horses but when I took this picture it was alive with the hum of bees. I'd like to plant a few nearer the house and there are some self set seedlings in the hedge but it's too late to move them this summer, I must try not to forget again in the autumn. Black locust makes a good honey apparently, if honey were vegan and we had hives.

Lots of housekeeping going on. I must tidy for the catsitter, finish up the current round of planting out, weed and above all water. Despite a few thundery showers last weekend there's still been no significant rain and as has become routine, none forecast until next week or maybe the following weekend. I try not to water more than once a week, it's exhausting and the water costs money and it's probably better to give a thoroughly good soaking now and again than dribbles frequently.

Tomatoes were potted on yesterday, leaving just 18 to find new homes for. They'll have to take their chances outdoors, perhaps I'll treat them very severely and stop them at one or two trusses. It's a management routine I've rarely tried to impose but seems appropriate under the circumstances.

The Foul (Ful) broad beans started to flower yesterday, one day before the Martock which have a flower open today. It is possible to distinguish between the plants when grown side by side, the Foul have slightly narrower leaftlets but otherwise they are very similar for height and habit. I had to pick one top from the Martock because of blackfly infestation but the plants seem largely healthy.

Deer, that devil deer probably, attacked the pumpkins a couple of days ago, nibbling off leaves and, more seriously, pulling the plants up as they did so. I think one or two plants have had it, but I've replanted the rest and hope for the best. There are now deer scarers in the form of old CDs strung up around the place. This is irritating me as they flash unexpectedly across the garden, I'm not sure what the deer make of them, with luck they're scared back into the woods but I expect they're just biding their time.

the lane


Robert Brenchley said...

Black locust is a well-known honey plant in the States,but the climate in the UK is too cool, and it doesn't produce anything here. How far south are you?

Catofstripes said...

Hi Robert,

Not particularly far south, near Bayeux in Normandy. It might be the unusually dry and warm spring has helped but it always seems popular with the bees. Very few wild (or otherwise) honeybees around which is a bit sad but loads of bumbles and other sorts.

Peter Mulryan said...

What is a Foul (Ful) broad bean? I have never come across them. Are they are ancient as Martock which I also have growing, though they have yet to flower?

Catofstripes said...

Ful (or Foul) are middle eastern broad beans, most usually associated with Egypt but popular all around that end of the Med. They are a much smaller, more archaic looking type of bean, very similar to the Martock but because I have no Egyptian contacts I just bought a packet of beans from the Middle Eastern grocers and planted them to see what came up. There is some information here on Wiki although I'm not very happy with that article.

We like to eat them very much so it seems sensible to try to grow our own. If I were more scientific I'd like to compare the Middle eastern sorts with the Martock, they do look very similar and also similar to more ancient forms of fava, like horse beans.

catsandcoffee said...

I love your picture of the swallow! We have several swallows that built their nests on our apartment complex. Although, our swallows are cliff swallows, and they live in California. :)