Saturday, August 02, 2008

We spent a third night in Strathardle. Vegetables have never been so abundant – is God trying to tell me something?

Knitting-wise, I worked peacefully on the Araucania rugby-shirt. Very soothing, very satisfactory. It’ll take forever. Last night I finished three-needle-binding-off where possible on the dinosaurs, and have started the long seams on either side from wrist to waist. I should embark on the neck ribbing today: who knows? Maybe finish.

Fergus Drake will be here tomorrow, with his mother and brothers. The thing is to try it on him at once, or as near “once” as possible, and only then block it, tweaking it into something nearer Fergus-shape if possible. I’m planning a full-scale total-immersion block, in the hopes of smoothing the stitches at the edges of the motifs, so it’ll take a while to dry.

If this is Saturday and this is August, the Games must be in three weeks.

Meanwhile having Helen here will inject intelligence and energy and forward movement into this increasingly geriatric household.


A category which always recurs and which I always enter in the Home Industries Tent, is “Collection of four vegetables”. Usually, the problem is to muster four without resorting to the inclusion of potatoes. This year, I’ll have a choice: courgettes and broad beans and peas and maybe French and runner beans –- both of the latter are in flower, and things are moving fast in this warm, wet weather; orach and kale and Swiss chard.

I have bought a book which will clearly furnish instruction and delight for the rest of my life: Sturtevant’s Edible Plants of the World. (There’s a Dover reprint of the original edition of 1919 – it’s cheap.) It provides what it promises – six hundred pages of edible plants, listed alphabetically by their botanical names with a subsequent index of common names so that you can find things.

Callie invites us to visit her blog and identify her Mystery Berry. It looks like a blackberry/bramble to me – a vicious weed with delicious fruit. Callie says it tastes like a mild blackberry. But Sturtevant locates the one I know, rubus fruticosus, in Europe, Africa and parts of Asia -- not America. He offers various other possibilities, including rubus canadensis: "This trailing plant often furnishes a fine fruit..."

I know that the species hybridises readily – maybe what we’ve got here is the bastard child of canadensis and a garden escapee. Various forms (including the Tayberry) are sold for gardens. They’re all big plants and hard to manage. Our neighbour in Kirkimichael once offered to give me a Nicholsonberry – alas we never got around to it, and now she’s dead. I wonder if any of the surviving family know what she meant.

We ate some orach while we were in Kirkmichael, and it wasn’t very nice. But Sturtevant says that “…it was long used, as it still is, in many countries to correct the acidity and green color of sorrel”. So I’ve got something to try next time.


  1. Nice to hear the garden is flourishing. I went out two evenings ago to pick some broccolini (the big heads are done) only to find it and the brussels sprouts decimated. More than decimated, all of them munched down. Must be a woodchuck lurking somehwere. Drat.

  2. Good to hear of the vegetable success. We are having such a cold summer- I should have planted peas. Maybe next year I'll plant the peas and the tomatoes, and then just leave the one that thrives best in the weather of the moment. The games sound lovely in a nice small town way.