Tales Of Second Breakfasts ~ Well If It’s Good Enough For Hobbits…

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This strawberry was yesterday’s first breakfast, eaten at around 5.45 a.m. when the early morning sun was already flooding the allotment with the beginnings of a heat wave. I don’t usually go gardening at this extraordinary hour; nor certainly feel like eating breakfast, but the weather people divined the day would be hot, so I left the house at 5.15, set on opening the polytunnel doors in hopes of creating some through ventilation. I also wanted to do a spot of emergency watering and mulching – the young sweet corn especially, but before that could happen the strawberry plot beckoned, and who was I to refuse this sunny mouthful of deliciousness. Or indeed the next several.

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Then I was distracted by the climbing peas. The day before, Lord Leicester had not been ready to pick, but suddenly he was. (It’s always problematical working out if a pod is actually full of grown-up peas: much gentle squeezing along the row).  Of course it was necessary to test the contents, so a pea course followed the fruit course (and I can report that they too were very juicy). Then I spent the next twenty minutes picking peas. There was quite a haul for a first picking. Good show, milord!

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After that it was time for some proper work, the intended watering and mulching, the chopping of garden refuse for the compost bins. Next came an interlude of enviromesh wrestling, this with the aim of ensuring that the red cabbages and Tuscan kale were well protected from Cabbage White butterflies – their cohorts now conspicuously abroad from a recent hatching. This job is always an enormous faff (finding enough tent pegs, checking the hoops are tall enough to give the crops room, and the mesh wide enough in both dimensions to cover them while leaving sufficient all-round margin for a complete brassica lock-down). I always have to put myself on notice to get this done, even though I know it’s utterly worth doing.

A reward for objective accomplished was to check if there were any new potatoes ready. I have to say this is ever one of the most exciting activities of the gardening year – rootling under a potato plant to see what’s what. Given our rainless spring I wasn’t expecting much of a crop from the first earlies, but here they are:  Pentland Javelin and just enough of them for two:

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As the morning grew ever warmer, the church clock struck the hours, and sounds of domestic awakening along nearby Southfield Road drifted over the allotment hedge. Now and then I would look up to see that another gardener had arrived quietly on their plot. Somehow people move about differently in the early morning: something slightly mesmeric as they go about their tasks; almost as if they are treading quietly on the grass paths: not wanting to disturb or be disturbed.

I chatted briefly with my plot neighbour when he arrived to fill his water butts, and we talked of the sample results from the soil test he had arranged on our mutual plots: very alkaline; very high in organic matter; but soil verging on the ‘very (as in too) heavy’. Action needed: lots of sand and potash to be added. He said how pleased he was discover that potential fertility was high. And I remembered that we should have known this, despite our often paltry crop results. This quarter of Much Wenlock where the allotment lies has been known as the Wheatlands for centuries, and still the crop is grown here, despite the heavy ground.

And soon five hours had passed, by which time I was very hungry for something other than peas and strawberries, and desperate for a mug of tea. Home then across Townsend Meadow where at 9.15 the present-day wheat already had a dreamy, heat-hazy air. As I go, I think not only of a second breakfast, but how very pleased Graham will be when I show him the spuds.

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61 thoughts on “Tales Of Second Breakfasts ~ Well If It’s Good Enough For Hobbits…

  1. Early is the happy time in a garden but I just can’t get there before breakfast. At least you had a start with the strawberries and peas.Maybe a mug of tea would have been nice

  2. You make me want to be there with you, attending to Lord Leicester, munching on one of those gorgeous strawberries, admiring the poppies, and digging potatoes.

  3. oh British strawberries – finger licking picking by all accounts – I guess the sun/rain combo has been to your advantage? I love your ‘rootling’ for the treasure hunt of new potatotes –
    and your shot of poppies beats mine hands down!!

    1. Did a very brilliant Nigel Slater recipe last night, which I think might suit you – pasta of choice, briefly cooked peas and a good dollop of pesto (preferably one’s own with 2 tbs of parmesan). It was astonishing delicious. In fact it would probably work just as well with small new potatoes instead of pasta.

      1. That sounds right up my street. I love Nigel Slater’s recipes (and writing generally), and T’s favourite foods are peas and pasta (pesto would be a very close second)

  4. Very productive early morning garden session Tish. During those hot (like Australian) temperatures it is the only time that gardening is bearable. Yum peas, new potatoes smothered in butter and maybe roast lamb with mint sauce. I think I’ll come over for a visit.

  5. Ah … that wheat field brings a few childhood memories roaring back!
    And thank you for capturing my pain with your warm balmy summer as it is bleep bleep freezing out here

      1. It’s warmed up a bit today since I posted, but the wind is biting at times and the night the temperature plummets , as you well know!
        Yes. I have lettuces and cabbages on the go in ice cream containers in the shed -all doing well – and will plant out the cabbage soon. Also garlic. With this there is always ”war” between me and the chickens as to where I can put them so’s the hens don’t scratch out the soil!
        A few onions too, though nothing to show just yet.
        For the first time ever I have a large bucket of carrots just beginning to sprout tiny green tops. At least I’m hoping they’re carrots and not weeds, which Emily often reminds me I an expert at growing!
        I had some taters growing in the open in containers, but a couple of nights of severe frost seem to have nailed them. I reckon I’ll have to dig out what there is, if anything. This especially has cheesed me off, as I wanted a decent crop before spring arrived. No chance now, I fear!
        Of course the lemon trees are flourishing and the bitter orange, and believe it or not, I picked a couple of ripe tomatoes for a salad for lunch!

      2. Frost is a bummer. You could wait a bit and see if more shoots emerge. Often frost only does for the immediate foliage. Presumably only an air frost and not a ground frost? Can protect containers at night with old curtains or similar.

      1. Hello, Lakshmi. Traditionally in the Victorian era, allotments were pieces of ground granted by local councils to railway workers so they could grow food near their homes (provided by the railway company). Nowadays they are community gardens, run by local allotment societies or the local council. We have 2 allotment gardens in Much Wenlock, probably with 20 or so plot holders on each one. Individuals pay an annual rent for their plot (these can vary in size depending on the rules of the society). I have 2 half plots, each about 10 metres by 5m, and one of them with a walk-in polytunnel on it. The allotment is just across a field from our house, about a five minute walk. All very handy.

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