Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Here we are. We both came home feeling we had been hit by a wrecker’s ball – but there were no disasters, and no feeling of how-long-can-we-go-on.

The January water crisis had left us with a slow, steady drip upstairs by the hot water system. We got in the plumbers – two of them, Mr. Bell and Mr. Bell, father and son. Mr. Bell fils plumbs while Mr. Bell pere tells him what to do and talks to the clients.

(They also grow raspberries. If you should ever happen to leave Blairgowrie on the road to Bridge of Cally, you will find them on the right, not long after Macdonald’s Cheese Shop. Immediately thereafter, on the left, is a huge field of raspberries grown under plastic. Avoid. The Bells’ open-air raspberries are far better.)

They said we had escaped disaster by a narrow margin. The drip was because two pipe-ends had nearly pulled apart – as happened in the kitchen, you will remember. And that, furthermore, we should have drained the copper tank by turning a red tap at its foot which would cause the water to squirt out through a pipe through the wall. How did they know we hadn’t done it?

Undrained as it was, the whole tank should have split, bringing down the bathroom ceiling.

I knew nothing about this. I thought that when we turned the water off at the mains and opened all the taps downstairs, we had drained the tanks upstairs. Either nobody told me about that red tap when the extension was being built and the current system installed, 15 years ago, or I wasn’t paying attention.

I turned it yesterday when we were leaving and sure enough, a prodigious quantity of water spewed out near the back door.

Never mind spring in Drummond Place Gardens – in our garden, the January ice was still there. It had receded, and was less dangerous, but still there:

The snowdrops are a fortnight or so behind what we have seen in other Februaries, but they are trying:

My beloved bunching onions, grown from seed last year and eaten by deer:

I think they’re going to pull through. I have read that red-bulbed bunching onions are even hardier, and I have got some seed for this year.

Then on Thursday night, it snowed. Notice in this, the Friday picture, how I have cut the autumn raspberries down to the ground as the books say to do in February.

I dug some Jerusalem artichokes, from the tubers the Fishwife gave me last year:

Nothing, and I mean nothing, makes one feel so much like a Real Gardener as bringing something in to the kitchen in February, from the snow. The resulting soup was delicious, if I do say so myself.

I also pruned the red current bush – the Summer Pudding bush. Rather lightly, because it fruits heavily and I didn’t want to upset it. My husband believes, contrary to all the cookery books, that Summer Pudding should be made with red currents only. There is no doubt – I’m sure everybody knows this – that birds can see colour. That bush has to be netted when the crop begins to turn very slightly pink, or the pigeons will have the pudding. Whereas they leave the white currents alone, equally delicious.

There’s a good deal to be said about knitting, as well, but that will have to wait for tomorrow.


  1. =Tamar1:05 PM

    On the whole, it was a good thing that the drip was there, or you might not have learned about the little red drain tap. (It was years before anyone bothered to tell me where the shutoff was for the furnace here.) I wonder whether the various leaks had to do with aging rubber seals or just unusual cold somehow weakening the solder joints. Logically pipes shouldn't pull apart unless something is puts pressure on them. A preventive examination might be in order, come summer.

  2. Here in the land of burst pipes in unheated houses there are many theories. Since you have an expert at your disposal, you need not hear any of them. We just got a blizzard over the weekend, but I am still eating potatoes we dug and stored and chart and tomatoes from the freezer, so I feel like I may garden again if spring ever comes.

  3. So very glad you are back. I check in on the blog every day just in case you happened to come back early.
    Still in the middle of an extra hard winter, lots of snow (nearly a meter in total since January) and arctic temps -30°. Will be glad to see dirt and bare ground.

  4. Anonymous1:40 PM

    So glad you are back with minimal trauma to report.

    We had fall raspberries in our garden, too, and we cut them back in late winter and again in mid-spring, for a heavy fall crop.

    However, the folks that took over our allotment have taken to only cutting down half the canes. The uncut ones will bear in spring, while the pruned ones continue to produce in the fall. The overall yield is reduced, but the season of fresh raspberries much extended. A thought for next year?


  5. I am inspired by your Jerusalem artichokes! Inspired to the point that I am now planning to plant some in my garden this spring.

    That was a close call with the plumbing. Plumbing scares me even when it appears to be working. Life has taught me the hard way that appearances can be deceiving.

  6. Good to see your garden pictures as they serve as advertising for the concept of spring. Your plumbers sound rather like Bert and Al Large on Doc Martin.