‘Why are your peas looking sick?’ asks Robin whilst he watches me water the plot. He sits there perched on top of the brassica netted frame as if he is directing all operations whilst secretly watching and listening for grubs.
‘I don’t know. It must be the hot weather, but I haven’t planted them down there before and Freddie Fox used that area as his private toilet last year.
‘But what has grown is a funny colour’ Robin says eyeing up the odd purple pod.
‘They are mangetout, not peas, and supposed to be purple. They are called Shiraz’ I reply.
“Trust you to pick an alcoholic veg’ Robin says as he pops down to wrestle with a small worm. The tug of war is short, and Robin soon flies off with his wriggling prize.
I look at the miserable plants clinging on for their last rights against the twigs they were supposed cover. I give them some water but there is no reaction.
Everything else is blooming and although some vegetables have come early, others are quickly catching up and if the slugs and snails can keep themselves to themselves everything should be ok.
I turn my attention to the two grape vines on the top section. There were a gift along with two others from Caroline, a good friend of Annie’s who live in deepest Kent. She still has six vines and I wondered if she had a drinking problem or secretly ran a pub.
The vines on the top took straight away, were cut back and everything looked well. They flowered and have little bunches of grapes but are still subdued and probably wondering where their mates are and what the are doing in London. Their mates I planted in my reclaimed bank and they didn’t take kindly to the move but now are in their element with shoots all over and big developing bunches of grapes. Perhaps the others need to live on the bank too?
The challenge is that until the grapes develop, I don’t know which is white, which is red, and that will teach me for losing the labels on transfer. I wonder if the mangetout Shiraz up top is jealous and it is a Shiraz below on the bank that is stealing the show?
The sunflowers turn their heads, watching and waiting to be given a drink. Now they don’t need any help and pop up in spring, get moved into position and only require a tall cane to stand proud and shine all summer. Mind you Sidney and his gang of squirrels fight the bees and birds for the seed heads as soon as they start to turn. It’s amusing to watch them scurrying up the stork and biting off the heads of the flowers, watching them drop to the ground. They start back down, pick up the flower head, and then they are off the hide it somewhere they will probably soon forget. They sow seeds on their journey and it’s rather funny to see them running away down the path with a flower head bigger than them and often still with a bee after the last drink.
Lottie hates squirrels so she is very annoyed I haven’t put trip wires around the sunflowers and mined the area under them. She just barks at them which probably encourages them to come back, knowing she is tied up and can’t chase them.
Back to today’s watering.
The other new plant this year is the kiwi vine. It’s not mine but my neighbour’s whose plot I am looking after whilst she is self-isolating with her shielded husband. The vine looks great as it straggles the arbor but has done little until this year. Happily, it’s it had masses of little delicate buttercup style flowers all over. Apparently it has never flowered before and maybe it is going to give me a special reward of fruit this year.
Alas there doesn’t appear to be any fruit setting and not being a kiwi expert or having grown it before, I don’t know what the baby fruit should look like at this stage. I’ve searched the internet and got lots of advice on everything except what I should be looking for. Robin even told me off, thinking I was looking at a bird’s nest. I bet birds around here have never seen a kiwi fruit, let alone flower.
Back to the more traditional watering, the Patti pans and courgettes. Now if this was wine not water, they would be permanently drunk with the amount they consume. I wonder if they’d like some Shiraz?