When I started this post a week ago the immediate concerns surrounded the aftermath of another weekend bringing another storm – Jorge. It seemed that our post-Brexit freedoms did not extend to naming our own storms with those Europeans coming over here, bringing their continental storms, messing with our rivers and flooding our golf courses.
Now we have the non-specifically named Covid-19 coming over here threatening to mess with everything and everyone we hold dear. I wonder if we can comprehend the enormity of what we might have to face and the steps we can take to mitigate the the effects of the impending epidemic. Back in 1976 when my father decided to buy a property with 6 1/2 acres of land it was, in no small part, because he wanted to be able to sustain a degree of self-sufficiency in case of a break down in the supply chain through either economic uncertainty of nuclear disaster. I am not sure if he saw Opec or Russia as a bigger threat, but he was determined to be ready.
It seems many think we might be facing such a scenario now – which would explain the bizarre headline shortages in toilet rolls and hand sanitizer. Really? In his day, my father was concerned about shortages in proper essentials like, um, food. So he grew vegetables on an industrial scale. I cannot compete with him in the scale of my veg growing operation, but I have managed to maintain an element of self-sufficiency and am hoping that Mrs B and I will have a decent crop of vegetables for the summer.
This week we cooked the last of the stored squashes: the recipe required “one large squash, 1 Kg”. Half of my last Crown Prince squash weighed a whopping 2kg so perhaps it pays to grow your own. We have almost finished the kale but the purple sprouting is doing as described (sprouting, in purple). There are still leeks in the garden and the rocket has got its act together in the greenhouse, so we have green leaves. And our hen – plucky Agatha – continues to lay eggs at regular intervals. For the new season there are the green shoots of new garlic and shallots. It might not be enough to ward off the prospect of self-isolation, but it is, if nothing else, pleasing to know that we can provide at least some of our diet for ourselves.
Most of the recent horticultural work has revolved around sowing seeds. I have ordered all my veg seeds, which I will start sowing in trays this weekend, but in some ways the more emotionally rewarding work has been in planning the flower garden for the summer. There will be a new border to be planted in Josh’s memory and I plan for the rest of the garden to be vibrant with colour and flowers for cutting. Ultimately the new beds will be planted with perennials, but as these will take a year or two to mature, I am sowing more annuals than I have ever done to ensure the borders are more packed than the Greco-Turkish equivalent. For flower seeds my go-to source is always Higgledy Garden and he includes old favourites such as cosmos, nicotiana and sweet peas, as well as newbies like Cleome Spinosa, amongst others, and a free packet of Godetia.
My father used to say that if you could not eat it, he did not want to grow it, but as I see the seedlings poking through and I look forward to sunny summer days and blooming borders in the garden it is a good time of year to remember Jesus being tempted in the desert and remind ourselves that we cannot live on bread alone.
Or toilet rolls for that matter.