Sunday, July 31, 2011

This is my 1,999th post. In which I welcome a new follower!

Mostly vegetables again today.

But I can tell you that I’ve reached round 84 of the Mourning Shawl border, and ordered Bridget Rorem’s lace-lettering sample scarf from the Schoolhouse. I don’t need it – I’ve got the original article in Piecework. But apparently there are two lace alphabets with the scarf – I’d like to see the other one. And it’s possible that either numbers or upside-down letters are included. Or both. I can work them out for myself, and often have, but it’s nice to have one’s work done for one. And fun to expect something in the post.


Speaking of which: last winter I ordered some sea kale, of which I had pretty well despaired, but it turned up yesterday – three plants, looking surprisingly well considering that they had spent most of the week with the GPO. They couldn’t be delivered on Thursday because we weren’t here.

I ordered some the winter before, but the thongs (that’s what they’re called) arrived in February when the ground was rock-hard. I heeled them in in a bucketful of soil which the moles had kindly thrown up, but they had turned to mush by the time it would have been possible to plant them.

Sea kale was a Victorian delicacy. I don’t know why it has fallen from favour – maybe I’m about to find out. Molly Keane mentions it in “Time after Time” as something that the middle sister, May, nourishes in her beloved kitchen garden. I can’t find the passage where she triumphantly brings it to the table – Molly Keane clearly loved and understood food.

The other thing I’ve got is a Seedbed Roll.

They were launched on the (British) amateur world two years ago – seeds sandwiched between a “grow mat” and a plastic cover with slits in it which the little plants lift on their shoulders causing the slits to open out. Commercial growers are said to use them.

I had one in Ought Nine, with carrots, ruby chard, and beetroot. It failed utterly because there was a spring drought that year (as often) and it needs attentive watering because of the plastic cover. There was not much sign of seedbed rolls in Ten, but they have reappeared this year in smaller versions. I’ve got the “summer salad” one not so much because I want a glut of lettuce in late September as to see whether I can make it work. We’ll be on hand for the attentive watering bit for most of August.

I wondered whether the plastic cover would be adequate protection from rabbits, so I will put part of the roll out there in the unprotected bit. It can be cut to size.

From the Master Herbalist and elsewhere, if you’re interested.

Non-knit, non-vegetable

Another thing I had despaired of that turned up yesterday (in a sense) was a hundred-year-old postcard of the Meikleour Beech Hedge, rather choice, which I recently bought on eBay. I was just revving myself up to start the tedious process of complaining that it had never arrived, when I had an email from James, in Cheltenham, to say that he’s got it. Apparently it came addressed to “James” rather than “Jean”, and I forwarded it. That was a relief.


  1. 1,999 !! So the next is most momentous.

    You've sent me scuttling off to my old cookery books ... I know I have something about sea kale somewhere. I will report back if I find it :)

  2. My chard is being devoured by earwigs, due to the unusual run of hot humid weather. Grr. I have never read Molly Keane, off to check my library website. Thanks.

  3. I had meant to comment yesterday on your Aran Games sweater and then got distracted. It is wonderful - a winner for sure! My advice is to enter it and your grandson Fergus together. He is cute as a button.

  4. skeindalous3:30 PM

    Bridget Rorem's lace alphabet patterns are wonderful....isn't she the one who also did the bird foot prints in the snow stole? It is on my wish list, for when the many UFOs have been wrestled to the ground.
    The Aran sweater is excellent. As is the grandson!

  5. My Molly Keane books are long gone but I'm currently reading Remarkable Creatures by Tracey Chevalier. It is just the type of story where sea kale might be mentioned.

    The postcard - so pleased it came. Its adventures just add to its provenance.

  6. I thought sea kale was something like a thistle. Or am I confusing sea kale with cardoons?

    Is there a source or designer for your Mourning Shawl? Or is it your own design? I've not been able to find that info in your blog.

  7. Anonymous6:27 PM

    The Meikleour Beech Hedge was one of the annnual outings when I went to stay with my grandparents in Rosemount, Blairgowrie each year. Good to see that it is still going strong. My forester grandfather used to say that during the war Italian prisoners of war were used to trim it.