Wednesday 6 July 2022

Gardening with a dodgy knee - the Midwich Cuckoos edition

You would expect any link with John Wyndham’s novels and the (super) natural plant world to be about ‘The Triffids’, wouldn’t you?  Walking monstrous plants with tendrils that blinded any human in their path could be readily associated with gardens and plant life.  But, in my case, I liken tending to my lemon tree, climbing beans and tomato plants as a scene from Wyndhams ‘The Midwich Cuckoos’. In my thoughts it’s plant life, not children, that have dominance over us, their humble gardeners. Truly. I do. 

My waking hours since returning from Dorset are dominated by these livings things. I have reminders on my phone and horticultural calendar about their feeding and watering regimes. I daily check that the climbing beans are free of predators. Every other day the tomatoes need water. (Then it’ll be a daily ritual.)Every week the lemon tree needs watering with its citrus feed. If it was this time last year I would be putting a parasol over it to protect the lemon tree leaves from the sun’s rays. It’s treated like a baby. A baby in the nest. A cuckoo. 

Daily I check the temperature in the greenhouse and see whether the tomato flowers have set. Now that the tomatoes are about twenty times the height they were when I placed them in their first pots they need staking. And if their flowers have set I need to give them tormorite feed in a week’s time. 

I don’t have a posh greenhouse so I leave the window open to allow tomato pollination from flying creatures. In order to ensure no overwintering bugs nor blight would weaken them I washed the greenhouse down with a Jeyes fluid solution before the darling plants ever stepped foot in there. Mustn’t upset the plant life or they won’t deliver.

It’s exhausting! 

And now - because we allowed ourselves a four-day holiday the herbaceous borders are paying me back by sprouting bloody bindweed.

So needy. So demanding of my time. Are the plants, like the Midwich Cuckoos, talking to each other? Causing me to change my indolent behaviour in order to give them my undivided attention?

I know I sound as if I am raving like a mad woman. I am, as far as I know, perfectly sane. But I feel the beans, lemons and tomatoes, in particular, need such a lot of support, both physically ie with canes and in terms of nurturing. They are, of course, plants that grow in south America and on the Med. That, rather than my mad notions of thought control, explains why they need so much tending. They are, when thinking more rationally, warm weather plants. 

For years I grew dwarf french beans. Absolutely no bother. No staking. No special temperatures - providing no frost was due. No special watering nor feeding required. No bending, even, as they grow in raised beds ie on legs. I check them at waist height. 

This year relations sent me six romanesco brassicas. Three look remarkably healthy and strong. One is non-existent and the other two are struggling. They are not my choice of vegetable. I’m inclined to nurture the three strongest plants. And now I read they need mesh over them to stop the pigeons. What? Even more slave labour??

But will the vegetation-hive-mind get to me? Will their dominance over me force me to nurture all the plants in my care so that I daren’t leave the garden?

Or, do I do as a friend - now a winner of medals from the Royal Society - once suggested? 

‘Let’s go on holiday. Bugger the beans.’

Yes. I have been watching the ‘Midwich Cuckoos’ starring Keeley Hawes on Sky max. It’s all about control. Find someone daft enough to grow you on from seed to seedling then conjour a fate worse than death if your carer hasn’t given you every attention.

Is this why my eye blew up to twice its size 48 hours ago? Had pollen got under my eye lid causing redness, copious tears and great pain? I bet it was the plants. Getting their own back because I was cutting them down. 

They’re watching me, you know. 

Next year it’ll just be spinach and dwarf beans. Now give me nightmares, why don’t you?


No comments:

Post a Comment