Monday, 15 March 2010

On your marks, … get set, … grow!

The new Formula 1 season has begun. Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton jostle for pole position. The new growing season has also begun. Numex Bailey, Principe Borghese and Black Beauty jostle for tray space on the windowsill. Meanwhile, at the back of the grid, Bendigo pepper struggles upwards through the soil, its seed case dragging down the tiny leaves like a heavy crash helmet on a weak neck. It’s so tempting to liberate those leaves from their prison, but I know my clumsy fingers could be fatal at this crucial time of growth.

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The morning routine for the first riser now goes something like this: check for chewed mouse corpse, feed the three amigos, check wood stocks, feed Bertha, check for eggs, feed the chooks, check for germination, feed the seedlings, check for mould on the bread, feed self and spouse.

Every windowsill is a mini-nursery and Bertha is a propagator. The three amigos are banished from their view points after Stevie put a big fat paw square on top of a cluster of lettuce seedlings and Nessa knocked a chitting potato out of its egg box and onto the floor.

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This year there’ll be some newcomers in the veg plot. Parsnip for Dave (one of the devil’s vegetables as far as I’m concerned). Cauliflower for me (a pointless vegetable unless covered in cheese as far as Dave is concerned). Artichoke as an experiment in my final permanent bed. Red cabbage because it’s yummy braised with apple and served with pork chops.

Meanwhile, things have gone awry on eggwatch. We peaked with two a day for the sum total of two days, but now we’re down to one dark brown egg per day courtesy of Hera. You know when she’s getting ready to lay when the afternoon is interrupted by chickeny shouting as she struts about doing laps of the hen house. Hestia has failed to develop a comb and is too busy chasing the three amigos away from the fence line to spend quality time in a nest box. Athena and Aphrodite have started laying soft shell eggs, which are mighty tricky to pick up. It’s a messy business picking yolk out of straw. This morning we finally had an early morning egg with shell intact, but it was more slightly deflated rugby ball than perfect ovoid.

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