Not a huge crop, admittedly, but satisfying all the same and if you taste the beans in this semi-dry state you’ll soon know why it’s worth growing them yourself. Last year we froze some so they could be dropped into soup without pre-soaking, but this year they’ll need soaking first simply because we waited for them to reach maximum size before picking them.
But it was Madame who picked these, because I was over in Bristol with two of the boys putting the glass into A’s recycled and free greenhouse. The careful preparation as we dismantled it from its original site in Bath really paid off. Every nut, bolt and clip was stored separately in boxes and we wrapped the panes of glass in fours in 50 metres of bubblewrap (which will be re-used as insulation). The three of us made an amiable crew, light work of the job and managed to complete the greenhouse with only one cracked pane – easily replacable. It ought to go without saying that there is real family life beyond the wild storms and mutual incomprehension of adolescence but I don’t see it much mentioned these days since we were instructed by our jailers to regard generation X as a bunch of snowflakes while they were told that we had stolen their inheritance. Well the truth is in our family at least we still love and respect one another, and the inheritance (such as it ever was) is in some offshore bank account, stolen in yet another distraction robbery by those who presume to lecture us on our morals. End of harrumph.
So as A contemplated the first sowings on his family’s new allotment, the Potwell Inn crew went up to ours and while Madame planted out spinach and weeded, I sorted out the compost heap. One of the advantages of living in a block of flats is that the communal waste area provides an endless supply of cardboard, not to mention occasional window boxes and plant pots. The bonanza days are when a flat is re-let and then we get big corrugated carboard boxes – the worms’ favourite honeymoon hotel. All compost heaps need carbon and carboard is a great source. We’ve put hundreds of egg boxes in ours over the years, and I’ve never seen a single one in the resulting compost, they simply disappear. So yesterday I took up a couple of huge thick boxes and sawed them up (much quicker and safer than a knife or by tearing them). At present the fragments are lying in an insulating heap on the top, to encourage the heap to heat up a bit, and then next time the heap is turned in a week or so, they’ll be a bit softer and easier to incorporatate into the green material.
Meanwhile, back at the Potwell Inn, the winter supply of basil is coming along nicely in the propagator. It’s right next to a window, casting a daylight glow into the street for twelve hours, and I’ve been expecting a visit from the community police – but I guess they see the window boxes and conclude that we’re more lkely to be septuagenarian garden freaks than threats to the Queen’s peace – whatever that might be!