Posh Picnics and Marquees
According to various books and websites the most common cauliflower pests are aphids, flea beetles, slugs and snails, leaf hoppers, and several insect larvae. Therefore, adopting my usual give-it-a-go organic approach I scattered coffee-grounds and agricultural grit around the plants as the worst culprits – slugs – do not like to travel across these gritty surfaces. This was the advice I had previously passed on to a good friend whose Brighton courtyard garden’s pots had fallen victim to slug invasion, airily proclaiming “Oh, I haven’t had any problems with slugs and, after all, Monty says…” and reeled off the Don’s various directives!
However, even these tips proved to be negligible, as over just a couple of nights all plants were reduced to nibbled stalks, and it was necessary to pull them out, and replant a new batch…. but this time in the middle of the vegetable patch, thinking this would be too far from the marauding slugs lurking in the hedge-line.
Smugly I thought I was thwarting all slug attacks, and lapsed into complacency for all of two days and until Paul and I actually witnessed the culprit in action! It was a rotund yet ravenous MOUSE nibbling, munching and chomping through my brassicas in broad daylight! Cheek!!
So, now I have had to abandon the prospect of harvesting my own cauliflowers this winter, and instead have sown more onions and shallots in their place; I figure that the mouse will not dig up these bulbs – but I’m open to contradiction!
“There is no gardening without humility. Nature is constantly sending even its oldest scholars to the bottom of the class for some egregious blunder”.
Alfred Austin, poet laureate of England in 1896, and author of ‘The Garden that I Love’ (1894).
Beltane, Floralia and May Day
In more recent history, starting on 1st May 1886 with American workers first protesting about working conditions and hours, this time of the year was adopted by many countries for such demonstrations – although it was not until 1978 that the Labour Government introduced the May Day Bank Holiday to the British national calendar.
To add to the mix, traditionally May Day was on the 11th May, but in the mid-eighteenth century the calendar was moved forward by eleven days, but the may blossom – that is, that of the hawthorn, was at its best and it’s to this occurrence that the saying “Ne’er cast a clout until the May is out” refers. So, May denotes the blossom not the month itself!
According to Monty Don, April is the busiest month and May is his favourite month within the gardening calendar. Well, that may be the case in Herefordshire but here in my little corner of the Cotswolds it’s all fallen drastically behind and consequently there’s far too much to get on top of and under control. I have been physically incapacitated now for four weeks and upon seeing a chiropractor today was advised not to think that just because the hip and knee pain is easing a little that this is an indication that I can do any gardening. In actual fact, she recommended that, ideally, I should be signed off work for the next two weeks!
As you can imagine, I’m very frustrated - not just with the pain, but being so restricted.
However, Paul has been going great-guns with various practical tasks such as constructing ‘pallet-fences’, chipping concrete off brick walls and painting same. We are also attempting to ‘rescue’ a couple of pot-bound oak saplings, however, we don’t hold out much hope as the main tap root was damaged. Still, we’re giving it a go and watering and talking to them regularly. Well, I am - but maybe I also need to entreat the gods and goddesses of Beltane and Floralia?!
As Nature Intended