Monday, 11 April 2011

Long or short? Itches. Freak out.

It's that time again! Seeds bought with enthusiasm over the Internet in February now need planting. Oh drat! Didn't make time to sort out the veggie beds again. Promised ourselves last year to be more organised for 2011, but we aren't. The beds are a mess and need to be sorted out before we can plant. This we did. And all we fetched up with was ground which was full of dried and hardened lumps of earth after we finished digging, this problem being caused by the sun coming out and drying the land quicker than we could work on it.

This year we have a big patch, a middle patch and two smaller patches of veggie beds. It is only the middle patch that is anywhere near ready for veggies, this being our first veg plot and three years old now. But we are trainee smallholders, and as such must keep plodding on with the seed task.

In an effort to save time, I have decided to forego the pleasure of pots. Last year I planted loads of pots with seeds. Felt my halo shining brightly as I surveyed the rows and rows of planted seeds. But the halo slipped sideways, eventually falling off my head altogether as I failed miserably to keep the watering regime going, and then the hardening off, and then the planting on site, and then the continuing watering, and weeding, and everything else one has to do if one is going to grow one's own veggies. Eventually all effort expired and I gave up.

So: This year I have decided to bypass the pot-stage and plant directly into the ground. In short rows, having found these very easy to manage, and cramming loads of rows all together, the theory being that if any insecty-thing came to eat one specific type of plant then it would have a hard job finding it amongst the mass of foliage. That's my theory anyway. In eleven rows I have mixed up salad-type veggies with things like cauliflowers, cabbages, and sprouts, thinking that once the salads are out, then that will leave room to spread out the last three.

Yes it is quite a small patch. And yes, I did manage to get eleven rows of seeds planted in that space.

And then it came to the bottom patch, Lester's domain. This was not to have noncy short rows, he said, but we would have proper smallholder-type rows. As you can see, they are considerably longer than the rows I made! But then he did use his nearly expired ancient rotovator, and all I had was my three pronged implement.

Anyway, we planted sugar beet to feed the animals, and wheat. Two rows. Felt terribly excited as we planted that wheat. Felt as if we were really on our way to self sufficiency. Envisage fronds of wheat ears blowing gently in the summer breeze. Ok! OK! I know it is only two rows, and not a whole field, but at least its a start.

So Lester has the long rows and I have the short. Which of us, I wonder, is going to produce the best crops!

And I am sooooo itchy. Some creature, or creatures, has/ have seen fit to have a huge munch of me, particularly around my neck. Think this attack on my personage happened when I was mowing the path to the river. When I was huffing and puffing over ground which was not particularly mowable I was too focussed on my huff and puff to pay attention to what was happening to my bod.

I have fetched up with more red-bumped-bitten-skin than left-alone-unattacked skin.

Crikey but I am all of an itch at the moment. And why is it that when one starts itching proper itchy bits, that bits which shouldn't be itchy then start to get itchy as well!

Buuuutttttt.....a thought. Perhaps the creatures of nature were paying me back for the dreadful deed I did the day before I got attacked. This time I was out in the front garden, mowing again, and not paying any attention to anything much, other than phantasizing about a ride-on lawn mower, a phantasy, I am afraid to say, which is indulged often by myself.

Feeling sweaty and sugar-deficient,.......nearly finished.....travelling along at a stately pace.....and there...betwixt feet and lawnmower was........:

Nnnooooooo! Not Hubs. Nor the chickens. There! Hanging off the end of the hoe!

And so there I was, doing my lawn mowing task, and betwixt the lawn mower and my feet, just about to be stood on, was a snake. A grey one with black markings on its back. There it was. In the 'lawn'. By my feet.

What did I do? I let out a squeal is what I did. And abandoned the lawn mower with a speed which is admirable in one such as myself, being in the 'over sixty' age bracket. With speed did I charge along into the house, to there shiver and shake my news at Hubs who was at that precise moment busy working on his PC.

With boldness did Hubs stride forth and fetch the snake from the 'lawn'. And did deposit it in the Courtyard for all to see. 

And this deed that I did but did not mean to do, for this was I punished by the laws of nature? An eye for an eye? Or in my case, one lawn-mowered snake for a neck full of itchiness!

Methinks it is time for a swig of Baileys and a nibble of choccie. For the shock. And here is the Oak Tree Veg Plot which will hopefully have wheat growing in it soon, and a very proud, and justifiably so, Head Gardener Hubs.


Roz said...

It was quite a big snake wasn't it? EEkkk!! more chocolate for you Mrs!!!!
I have given up with seeds - the time it takes with watering and the cost of trays and compost, and then what to do with the 200 small plants you then should pot on...... Im just going to buy small plants locally from people who can be bothered with all that fuss. I look forward to following the 'whose bed produces best crop' challenge!!!!

Ken Devine said...

Never a dull moment, eh Vera?
That was so funny!
I'll be watching to see who wins the challenge. I'm interested to see how much comes out of that size plot.

John Going Gently said...

your buff cockerel is a beaut!
as for the veg patches....... you are so lucky, I have to surround mine with chicken wire....too many hungry beaks!

Vera said...

John: Probably got to fence the back plot off as well - not because of the 'beaks' but because of the deer. One of the new fruit trees got munched down to nothing yesterday, so have had to put wire round them as well. Ah the joys of trying to protect one's food source for one's self rather than feed all the other creatures, domestic or otherwise!

Diane said...

Hope the itching has stopped but I am very sad about the snake. Sorry this is one creature that I really like, had them as pets as a child! Ok so I am a bit odd, sorry.

My veg garden is now in its 5th year and it is only now that it has really become easy to dig and only a few clods that break down quite easily. Mind you it has had masses of manure on it each year so it should have improved!!! Take care. Dc iane

Vera said...

Di, the itching has stopped, thanks to the bicarb I applied in desperation. Have no probs with snakes, it is just that this one appeared unexpectedly. With regards to manure: Fortunately we are getting one barrow-ful per day from the Sheep barn, so it is looking good for the future demise of clods!

DUTA said...

I'm full of admiration for you and your hubby. Not only are you going to be self-suficient but you'll also not encounter food shortage of which the press tells us is on its way.
The picture with your hubby carrying the snake - is a Hit (pity you left out his head).

Jean said...

I hope you're lucky with the "cram em in to defeat the pesties" theory. Fighting the pests is a huge job on even our miniscule veg patch. One Easter, I came back from holiday to find a well-fed snail eating the last of the carrot tops. The rest of the whole row were already gone. I gave up on carrots after that.

And as for snakes - aaarghhhhh......

Vera said...

It is indeed depressing to see one's hard earned work going down the throats of others! I am not sure what I am going to do about slugs and snails now we have chickens. Perhaps a beer trap, providing the chickens don't then dunk their beaks in the beer! Glad you have a like mind as me about snakes!