Friday, 27 July 2012

Mary Mary, Quite Contrary..... does your garden grow?

For those of you outside the UK, that's one of our quaint old English nursery rhymes. The full verse finishes with...

With silver bells and cockle shells
And pretty maids all in a row.

Which, to me, makes about as much sense as taking a 5 year old to the mens' gymnastics . In fact, no-one really has any idea what it's about. The theories range from being a religious allegory of catholicism where the pretty maids are in fact nuns (?!) to a rhyme about Mary Queen of Scots. The "cockle shells" apparently could be referring to instruments of torture or alluding to the fact that her husband couldn't be faithful to her. I do wonder though why it can't just be about a girl called Mary who had a garden where little bells tinkled in trees and the walls were decorated with the shells of small, edible, bi-valve molluscs.

Mary Queen of Scots and her
instruments of torture...

pretty little mary tending her
garden .....
Either way, my garden is growing stupidly but in all the wrong ways. Since St Swithin worked backwards this year and it rained solidly for three and a half months before his feast day, my attempt at becoming anywhere near self-sufficient has failed miserably. With no sun from April to mid July I have failed to produce even one courgette, my purple-spouting broccoli spouted but I forgot to pick it to so it went to seed, my carrots have been in the ground for about 4 months and are still only about an inch long and my 10 pea plants haven't even produced enough to put in my annual pea and mint risotto for two. Though, given that I keep finding discarded pea pods around the garden, it's possible that the twins have learnt how to forage for themselves. Hopefully they'll bring back a whole venison next time. The only thing I've managed to produce is potatoes but it's hardly been cost-effective. The 40 litres of compost needed for each potato bag has cost more than I could buy the crop for from Waitrose. Haven't had a single tomato yet either. Still, I gather Monty Don's having a tough year aswell so I don't feel like too much of a failure.

Tonight is the opening ceremony of the Olympics and tomorrow is the men's gymnastics with said 5 year old. Tonight I shall go for a run beforehand to get into the sporting mood and then spend the evening planning, in meticulous detail, how I'm going to get The Monkey from home to the North Greenwich stadium, as it has been confusingly renamed, without accidentally on purpose leaving him on the train. I adore him but he talks me to death and cannot keep still. Even now he is leaning over my shoulder wittering in my ear and wanting to know what I'm writing about him. Learning to read does have its pitfalls, for the parents anyway.

And so, as I psyche myself up for my own Olympic-sized task tomorrow, I shall go and see whether my next batch of 3 peas are ready to pick and decide what to do with them. Add them to the bag of 10 peas waiting in the freezer or just eat them? I bet Mary Mary didn't have such conundrums.

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