As we move into phase three of Lockdown in the Midlife Garden, restrictions are being gradually lifted as seedlings and young plants are allowed into raised beds and borders. We remain confident that the garden economy will make a recovery and start to get back to normal. Whatever that is.
Of course, we have no statistics or evidence to support this policy and, although we profess to be guided by the signs (more sunshine, longer days, that kind of thing), we are, for the most part, acting on gut instinct. Put another way: we’re winging it. We were winging it when we forgot to water the strawberries and they nearly died in the heat. We were winging it when we found random sweet peas and nicotiana in amongst the sugar snaps and we were definitely acting with little or no planning, fore-thought or intelligence when we left the beans out and let them get hit by the frost.
So now we are trying to look organised and have gone back to the core policies of social distancing and quarantine. We have applied these policies to the brassicas: the Purple Sprouting, Kholrabi, Sprouts and Cabbages. When they entered the garden from the greenhouse they were initially quarantined (hardened off) for fourteen days before they could take their place alongside the onions in the raised bed. There they were carefully placed a socially distanced 18 inches from the other plants, as we made the natural assumption that they probably all have underlying health issues. Initially, the policy seemed to be working, with all plants looking healthy with no symptoms of dry leaves or wilting stems. But that was when they were young. It seems almost as if, the older they get, the more susceptible they become to whatever it is that kills ’em. We started getting random casualties, just keeling over and dying, like sheep in a field. We Googled possible causes – club root being one, but discounted that. (We also discounted ‘Club Foot’, which, being a Kasabian song, has nothing to do with cabbages but does evoke memories of a very different time).
But the good news is that the social distancing measures are working, as there appears to be no spread of whatever it is that is killing the plants. When one plant dies, its neighbours are still able to survive – so now we are employing a policy of local lockdowns, even though no one knew we had such a policy till now. Including us.
In the absence of any conclusive evidence to explain these isolated deaths, we have come to the conclusion that these plants – unlike our Prime Minister – simply were not ‘fighters’. It is generally assumed by many that if you get ill, your chances of survival are greatly enhanced if you possess a pugilistic outlook on life. So we replaced the flattened plants with others who had been sitting warming the proverbial subsitutes’ bench in the seed trays. We put them in with a managerial motivational speech along the lines of “here’s your chance lads, go out and prove yourselves”. Results were mixed (even they weren’t all fighters, apparently) and we are down to our last super-sub for the Sprouts. But then, as 52% of the population would say, what have Brussels ever done for us?
In other news, we have had a delivery of PPE for the brassicas and the fruit. We have actually had two deliveries as we accidentally double ordered because the first order took so long to arrive – despite sending planes to Turkey to collect it. So we now have plenty of netting to prevent birds and cabbage white caterpillars from decimating our crops, although the holes in the butterfly netting look suspiciously large. But it’s not as if we would order PPE that is not of the correct standard, on a whim, or in panic, is it?
And as for questions concerning the spread of whatever is destroying the brassicas, we are not worrying. Why? Because (apparently) lockdown plants don’ give to you…
Don’t believe me? Just watch.
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