the day after the marrow

 

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Our courgettes are starting to come thick and fast. I checked them on Thursday and had a few the length of my finger or so. This morning I checked and they had mutated into monsters. We’re going on holidays next week. What monsters will be awaiting when I return?

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Batman broccoli,wok and work

I’ve been trying my hand at growing some new vegetables in the garden.
These choices have been based on a value for space ratings provided in Joy Larkcom’s excellent and informative ‘Grow Your Own Vegetables’.

One of the vegetables that got a high rating was broccoli raab aka broccoli rabe aka rapini aka cime di rapa . The name ‘cime di rapa’ means ‘turnip tops’ in Italian. I planted about 0.5 sqm around  mid March and about 2 months later this is what I got, a sort of raggedy leaf with spindly shoots and florets…Image

Ideally I think that the plants are supposed to have more of a floret but as they where starting to flower it seemed like a good time to bring them in.

I’ve cooked it twice, once in a pasta and sausage dish and today with a beef stir-fry  It tasted good to me, like a sort of Batman broccoli, dark and broody, sort of bitter and complex.  I like it and will grow it again though it might be a bit heavy/bitter for some taste.

( broccoli raab = 430g)

For the stir fry I also took the 2nd cut of some stir fry greens after getting about 100g of young leaves for an oriental salad a few weeks ago.

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The main thing I couldn’t help noticing about the stir fry greens was how beautiful the leaves are to look at. It seems a shame to eat them.

(370g stir fry greens)

I was out watering the vegetable beds this morning at about 8am, it was so beautiful and peaceful, the closest I’ve had to a ‘quiet time’ in a long time.
Then my sense of peace and contentment is nagged by thinking that it’s all very well for me to watering plants at 8am but if I was a real man I wouldn’t have time for so much gardening, I’d be careering of to a job like my neighbours, I wouldn’t have time for faffing around with mizuna and broccoli raab or writing a blog.

So often I wrestle with God in the garden. It is an odd mixture of guilt and delight, pleasure and pain.  What is work? What is a job?

The questions comes thickest in the carrot bed. I’ve weeded that carrot bed so many times already, the weeds keep coming up.I’m aware of the threat of carrot flies. If I’m lucky for hours of work I’ll get 50 about carrots. I can buy a bag of  them up at Joyce’s for 39c.Is it worthwhile investing precious hours on growing something which has  a combined worth of about €4 according to Joyce’s?

They might be loss leaders or whatever but that nearly makes it worse. Carrots are being treated as a commodity or bait to encourage people to spend their money on other more worthy groceries and good.
In a world where our value and worth to society is  measured by the benchmark of money and the Market weeding a carrot bed for 50 carrots throws up questions, questions about what is worthwhile work or who gives value to work, what work should you be engaged in.
Are you crazy or is the world crazy?
Is this just a middle class privilege thing or is their work of true value in growing a turnip?
Turmoil in the turnip patch, serpent in the garden.

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remembering

re-blogged because it’s true..

canal ways

..it is curious how seldom the all importance of food is recognized. You see statues everywhere to politicians, poets, bishops, but none to cooks or bacon-curers or market-gardeners.’

George Orwell in ‘The Road to Wigan Pier’

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keeping the dandelions

I was walking home last night up to the house and for the first time that I can remember felt a sense of shame that our house was looking dowdier and more run down that the other houses in the cul-de-sac. It could use a lick of paint and the grass ‘needs’ cut.

The thing is that I don’t think the grass really needs cut but feel obliged socially to fit in with the narrative of the tidy lawns in all the rest of the homes.I don’t think that the grass needs cut because I was watching two goldfinch eating dandelion heads on my lawn, dandelions that would be obliterated by the lawnmower or house proud gardeners who think of them as weeds. No dandelions means no goldfinch. I’d rather have the goldfinches on long grass than a billiard table surface. It seems a bit pointless to spend money on buying in seeds and putting them in feeders to attract goldfinches when you grow your own.

The pressure to fit in is powerful though. I don’t want to be the blow in that brings the neighbourhood and makes the place look untidy and unkempt. So instead I will pay for petrol and pay for getting the lawnmower serviced and walk around keep the grass short all summer. Somehow keeping the grass short  has become tied in with being some type of Christian witness (because I’m respecting the culture of the place). I’m not sure I want to go too far down this road mind you..Image

 

lazy beds pt b

lazy beds pt b

Well, I didn’t quite manage to get my potatoes in on St Patrick’s Day, but the next morning I threw them into the lazy bed 1ft apart and shoveled loose soil from the path on top.

I’ve started another longer bed and hope to get two more the same length done by the end of March.
That’s if the wind and rain don’t keep discouraging me from going out to the garden. It’s not so much the feel of the wind, more the noise. The way it blusters, then dies down and changes direction drives me a little crazy.
For the new bed I cut the sods a little longer (maybe 60cm instead of 30cm)  and flicked them over.